Caitlyn Jenner’s ‘Bright Future’ and Why ESPN Chose to Honor Her at the ESPY Awards

Not everyone was happy to hear about Caitlyn Jenner being honored with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs this year.

Caitlyn's Op-Ed
Caitlyn Jenner pens an editorial column entitled "The Real Me."

ESPN announced in June that they chose the Olympian for the major honor after she came out publicly as a transgender woman, and while many feel that is more than worthy of the award, there was also quite a bit of backlash.

Thus, ESPY co-executive producer Maura Mandt is now explaining the controversial decision in an interview with Sports Illustrated, just two days before the show will air:

“I think Caitlyn’s decision to publicly come out as a transgender woman and live as Caitlyn Jenner displayed enormous courage and self-acceptance. Bruce Jenner could have easily gone off into the sunset as this American hero and never have dealt with this publicly. Doing so took enormous courage. He was one of the greatest athletes of our time. That is what the Arthur Ashe Courage Award is about, somebody from the athletic community who has done something that transcends sport. One of the biggest platforms the Arthur Ashe Foundation has is educational, and I think in this choice we have the opportunity to educate people about this issue and hopefully change and possibly save some lives. I think that is why it was the right choice.”

As far as claims that ESPN simply chose Caitlyn for the award as a publicity stunt, Mandt stresses that the process of selecting her was the same as it has been for years: they met with the potential recipient, consulted with people in the community of the winner as well as those involved with the Ashe Foundation.

She explains, “It is very rare you get to tell a story that hopefully affects people and moves people and has meaning and makes a difference. At the same time if it attracts people from seeing it? We are not going to run away from that. Every person who has a cause needs a platform.”

Meanwhile, Caitlyn isn’t letting any of the criticism bother her. In fact, she took to her blog today to answer some questions from her fans about her “bright future.”

When asked about her favorite part of becoming Caitlyn so far, she writes:

“Just being able to be myself. Recently I went on a trip with some of my new friends and I had such a wonderful time. I packed for the first time — as just Caitlyn, nobody else — which is the first time I’ve ever done that. I was gone for five days and had such a fantastic experience with all of these girls who have all been through the same thing. We had so many stories to tell. We had so many things that we were all dealing with. It was just truly a liberating experience. I knew then that I could never go back.”

And on the opposite side of the spectrum, another fan asked: what’s been Caitlyn’s biggest disappointment so far?

“As I mentioned before, it’s been both eye opening and difficult to see firsthand what so many members of the trans community have had to go through just to be themselves. I hope to help raise awareness of these hardships so that it becomes a less painful process going forward. That said, the future looks bright. I knew that my transition would get some response, but I certainly never expected all of this. It’s honestly been incredibly positive.”

The ESPYs – Caitlyn’s first major public appearance – will certainly be another important and positive moment for her. The show will air on Weds. July 15 at 8 p.m.