Caitlyn Jenner's Glamour Women of the Year 2015 Award Acceptance Speech
At Monday night's Glamour Women of the Year Awards, Judith Light honored Caitlyn Jenner, presenting her with an award as tribute to her work in transgender awareness and advocacy. Jenner's acceptance speech was powerful and moving. Here it is in its entirety, below.
Caitlyn Jenner: Well let me first say, getting up those stairs in this dress is more difficult than hurdling. Second, Judith, you have been such a supporter of our community. You have done so many things for so many gender-nonconforming people. To have you present this tonight means so much to the community and we want to thank you.
When it comes to gender, everybody in this room is on a journey. We are constantly learning, growing as human beings, learning about ourselves. But there is a segment of this population, when it comes to gender, there is massive confusion, deep down inside. It has caused problems throughout the world — because this is an issue about humanity, it doesn't have borders.
There was a French activist and writer, Simone de Beauvoir, who said, "You are not born a woman, you become one." Words I live by. My transition was very very long. I had many many many years of isolation from the world, of lying to the world, of not being myself. I got to a point a few years ago, I was back out in Malibu in my home, all alone, had raised wonderful children — and I thought, what am I going to do with my life? I've isolated and lied to myself and lied to the world for so long, what am I going to do with my life.
So I sat down with each one of my 10 children. It was the big secret in the family that nobody could talk about — I was getting destroyed in the tabloids, every week walking through the grocery line, looking at the headlines. And so were my children, it was hurtful. So I sat each one of them down and I said, "This is my story, this is who I am, what can I do?" I sat down with my pastor, talked to him about my issues. And yes, I had a lot of conversations with God.
And I came to the conclusion that, you know what? Maybe this is why God put me on this earth — to tell my story, to be authentic to myself about who I am. And maybe in doing that, maybe you can make a difference in the world. What a great opportunity in life to have. So few of us ever get to have that opportunity.
So it started with Diane Sawyer so eloquently and beautifully telling my story. And then when two months later the pictures and the name came out, boy oh boy, did the conversation change. No longer could the media go out there and say terrible things about me because they would be homophobic. Now, all of the sudden...transition, change, and boy did all of these conversations. I know all of these people coming up to me and say, all of a sudden all these new questions came into my life. People going: What's your style? What are you going to wear? Who are your heroes? Are you a feminist? All these questions, and I said, oh my god, I have so much to learn.
Over this last six months, it has been the most eye-opening experience of my life. For years and years I never felt like I fit in anywhere. I always felt as an outsider. I never felt good in the male side, and I wasn't obviously in the female side. I was kind of stuck in the middle. But all of a sudden after making this decision and coming out, it was by far the best thing I ever did. Because for so many years I lost my enthusiasm for life, literally staying in my house for almost six years. Because I never really wanted to come out, just to go work, that was about it. Now, actually, I like going out, and I like being myself. And in doing that, it's been amazing the opportunity we have for change, for people to understand this issue because it's so difficult.
I could not have done this without the people who have gone before me, the Laverne Cox of the world, the Janet Moks, the Gina Roceros. But I have learned — because I had never met anybody else who's trans until after I came out — what I have learned about this community is what a great group of women there are out there, who have worked so hard to be authentic to themselves and authentic to womanhood.
I'm doing a show right now, I'm right in the middle of a bus ride with six girls and we're going around the United States dealing with trans issues. And we're having so much fun, they're some great people. And I couldn't have done it without all of them.
And to Glamour magazine, I gotta tell you a story quickly. I haven't been on the airlines in over a year because I didn't have authentic I.D. And finally last week, I got my driver's license. Picture and gender marker "F." So it's always the little things in life that really you notice. And I'm sitting on the plane, and for the first time reading Glamour magazine and not having to fold the cover over so nobody could see what actually I was reading. And I had that thing open beautifully and just reading through Glamour magazine was absolutely great.
So thank you, Glamour magazine, for honoring me tonight. I never in a million years ever thought I would be here — and I bet you never thought I would either! But here I am, alive and well. Thank you very much.
More From Glamour:
• Behind the Scenes at Glamour's Women of the Year After Party With Reese Witherspoon, Caitlyn Jenner, Victoria Beckham, and Others
• Judith Light Presents Glamour's Women of the Year Award to Caitlyn Jenner
• Glamour Women of the Year Awards 2015 Recap: Carnegie Hall, New York City
• Women of the Year - Caitlyn Jenner: "Maybe This is Why God Put Me on This Earth"
Photo Credit: Nicholas Hunt via Getty Images, Gilbert Carrasquillo via Getty Images