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Once she picked out the perfect dress for the ESPYs, Caitlyn Jenner had to overcome a fear much greater than her appearance — reading off a teleprompter.
In a blog post on Monday, the former Olympic gold medalist, who has dyslexia, noted that her memorable speech at the ESPYs on July 15 was scripted, compared to her usual unscripted public talks. That meant she had to read the speech off a teleprompter in front of a large audience.
"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,'' she wrote on her blog. "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."
While a few bits were improvised, Jenner stuck to the script while accepting the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, declaring that "trans people deserve something vital: They deserve your respect."
"For me to go out in front of a group like that and to do the whole thing off of the teleprompter was huge,'' she wrote. "Everybody was there supporting me and helping me get through this, but when I got up on stage and started the presentation, I tried to separate myself from where I was and concentrate on the prompter."
Jenner also credited Diane Sawyer, who conducted the first interview in which Jenner identified as a woman in April, with helping her get through the ESPYs speech. Jenner officially introduced herself to the world as Caitlyn in a June 1 cover story in Vanity Fair. She was brought up to the stage at the ESPYs by U.S. soccer star Abby Wambach, who "did a great job" with her introduction, Jenner wrote.
An emotional moment in her speech came when she thanked her children, who were all in attendance at the ceremony in Los Angeles.
"The toughest part in the speech was my kids,'' she wrote. "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, whose selection for the award drew controversy, watched her speech later that day when it aired on the West Coast.
"It was a little difficult for me to watch myself,'' she wrote. "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."