Caitlyn Jenner is getting ready to step out on the red carpet as herself for the first time at Wednesday night's ESPY Awards, but not without some controversy.
Less than two months after revealing herself on the cover of Vanity Fair, she will receive the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPY Awards in Los Angeles. While her selection for the award came with some questioning her worthiness, the Olympic gold medalist says her journey has been mainly positive.
"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,'' she wrote in a blog post on Monday. "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."
That courage to be her authentic self is what led the ESPY Award producers to select her for the award, which is named after the late tennis great who became an AIDS activist.
"(Her selection) may not only give comfort to those facing similar circumstances, but also can help to educate people on the challenges that the transgender community faces,'' ESPN said in a statement.
"This award is a powerful recognition of the fact that for her personally this was a courageous act to transition and also that transgender people can be celebrated as heroes,'' Nick Adams, the director of programs and transgender media for GLAAD, told TODAY on Wednesday.
However, many on social media disagreed with her being the recipient of the award, and NBC Sports' Bob Costas also weighed in on the Dan Patrick radio show.
"I wish Caitlyn all of the happiness in the world and all of the peace of mind in the world,'' Costas said. "However, it strikes me that awarding the Arthur Ashe Award to Caitlyn Jenner is just a crass exploitation play. This is not anything against Caitlyn Jenner, I'm pretty sure they could have found someone who was much closer to actively involved in sports who would have been deserving of what that award represents."
The executive producer of the ESPY Awards told Sports Illustrated that selecting Jenner was not a ratings ploy.
“It is very rare you get to tell a story that hopefully affects people and moves people and has meaning and makes a difference,'' executive producer Maura Mandt said. "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.”
Jenner, who will be joined by all of her children at the ceremony, including the three Kardashian sisters, has been soliciting suggestions from fans about what to wear as the excitement builds for Wednesday night.
"I think that people should expect the same person that they've gotten to know all these years actually because when a transgender person transitions, they just become more of their authentic self and who they really are,'' Adams said.