Caitlyn Jenner's speech at the ESPY Awards last week marked a turning point for her in more ways than one. Not only was it Jenner's first public appearance at an event since her transition, but it also forced her to overcome something she's struggled with since childhood: dyslexia.
"As a dyslexic kid, my biggest fear in life was to go in front of the class and read because I just wasn't very good at it — and that stays with you through your whole life," Jenner writes in a new blog post about the ceremony. "That's why all of my speaking engagements through the years have been always off the cuff. I'm better off getting up there knowing what I'm going to say and doing it. But at the ESPYs, I really had to stick to the prompter because I only had a certain number of minutes to make it right, to get my points across. I practiced, and practiced, and practiced, and practiced to make sure I'd nail it."
The speech itself wasn't the only thing Jenner was worried about as she prepared to take the stage. Other concerns included her appearance ("I wanted to feel good. I wanted to feel pretty," she writes), and whether she would be able to make it onto the stage smoothly (which she did, with some assistance from presenter Abby Wambach). Jenner says she didn't even watch any of the ceremony until she came out to give her speech for fear that she would "lose it."
But once she started to give the speech, it didn't become any easier to keep her emotions in check. "The toughest part in the speech was my kids," Jenner writes. "It was hard to look over there and see all of my children. As I said in the speech, I don't want to hurt anybody. I just want to be myself. I barely got through that."
Jenner received two standing ovations from the audience, but says that when she watched her speech on TV (after leaving the after-party early to do so), she wasn't entirely happy with it.
"It was a little difficult for me to watch myself," she writes. "While I felt like I looked great and that the gown looked fabulous, I still have a voice issue. It's not quite right compared to my feminine appearance. That bothers me a little bit. However, I hope that people don't listen to the pitch of my voice, but listen to what I have to say. That's important to me."
She continues: "There is so much misunderstanding of this community that I'm in. People don't understand trans issues or gender identity issues. Now I'm in a position to try to explain it to people, to try to get them to understand that these are serious issues that affect a lot of people. That's what my mission has been from the beginning and I hope that I achieved that at the ESPYs. What an honor."
Read Jenner's full blog here.