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ESPN Defends Choice of Caitlyn Jenner for Arthur Ashe Courage Award

by: Esteban On  Thursday, June 4, 2015

Caitlyn Jenner - Vanify Fair main

A lot of folks were outraged this week when ESPN announced they would award their Arthur Ashe Courage Award to Caitlyn Jenner.

Seriously. Outraged about an ESPY award, something ESPN invented to give themselves something to talk about during the MLB All-Star break.

Ostensibly, the reason for this outrage was that there were at least two other candidates who were more deserving—namely Lauren Hill, the college basketball player who recently lost her battle with brain cancer, and Noah Galloway, the double-amputee Iraq War veteran and Dancing with the Stars contestant. And it’s true that both of those candidates would have been excellent choices.

However, if you believe gender dysphoria is a real thing that real people experience, then you can at least concede that Caitlyn Jenner isn’t a terrible choice.

That’s not to say you necessarily think Jenner was the best choice. The fact that Jenner has been a reality TV phony for years certainly clouds the situation and makes you wonder exactly where the publicity stunt ends and the genuine struggle begins. But if you are open to the possibility that transsexualism is a legitimate phenomenon, then it’s hard to be outraged about all this.

Nevertheless, ESPN takes the ESPYs seriously. So on Wednesday they issued a statement defending their choice. Feel free to read the whole thing over on their media blog. But for most of you this snippet will probably suffice:

Jenner’s unyielding resolve and hard work enabled him to win a gold medal in the 1976 Olympics and break world records…Although Jenner first captured the attention of the nation for his athletic prowess and determination, the same strength of character shone through this past April when he sat down with ABC’s Diane Sawyer to come out as a transgender woman…Added executive producer Maura Mandt: “Bruce has received many accolades over the years for being one of the greatest Olympians of our time but The ESPYS are honored to celebrate Bruce becoming Caitlyn. She has shown the courage to embrace a truth that had been hidden for years, and to embark on a journey that may not only give comfort to those facing similar circumstances, but can also help to educate people on the challenges that the transgender community faces.”

So there you go. ESPN is not backing down.