HRC congratulated Caitlyn Jenner for receiving ESPN’s Arthur Ashe Courage Award tonight.
Another Olympian and LGBT advocate, soccer player Abby Wambach, a key member of the U.S. women’s national soccer team that won the World Cup earlier this month, presented the award to Jenner.
“Caitlyn Jenner has already shown the world her courage and honesty, bringing a new and fuller level of understanding about transgender people,” said HRC Foundation’s Jay Brown, Director of Public Education and Research. “The image of Jenner, with her supportive and loving family, and being honored for her courage by World Cup champion Abby Wambach, sends a powerful message to transgender people who all too often face rejection, harassment, and ridicule.”
“We continue to hope that Jenner’s story will inspire others to live their truth. We also hope that this moment helps to shine a light on the challenges many transgender people with far less access to resources and critical support face each and every day,” Brown said.
Last year’s Arthur Ashe Courage Award winner was Michael Sam, America’s first openly-gay professional football player.
Jenner’s honor comes at a time when more and more Americans know transgender people, and support them. A recent national HRC survey revealed that 22 percent of likely voters personally know or work with someone who is transgender, and, of that group, two-thirds expressed favorable feelings toward them. That’s up from 17 percent who said they knew a transgender person just a year ago.
The data provides powerful empirical evidence that the increase in the visibility of transgender people in our workplaces, our communities, in our popular culture -- including Jenner, Emmy-nominated actress Laverne Cox, and New York Times bestselling writer Janet Mock--helps propel this growing support.
This positive trend of understanding is perhaps reflected most dramatically in the corporate world, where HRC Foundation’s work with Fortune 500 companies through the annual Corporate Equality Index has resulted in two-thirds now offering explicit gender identity non-discrimination protections, and 34 percent offering transgender-inclusive healthcare benefits.
But even with those gains, many transgender people still face tremendous challenges, with great disparities faced by transgender women and transgender people of color. In 2015, at least 9 transgender women - almost all of whom were Black or Latina - have been murdered and 8 young transgender people have died by suicide. HIV continues to disproportionately affect transgender women. And unemployment, discrimination in healthcare, violence and homelessness are major concerns for the community.
More information about the lives of transgender people in the U.S., including the challenges they continue to face, can be found at http://www.hrc.org/topics/transgender. And a new HRC resource, Understanding the Transgender Community, can be found at http://www.hrc.org/resources/entry/understanding-the-transgender-community.