The New York leg of the 20th annual GLAAD Media Awards saw Tyra Banks pick up one of the top honours of the night.

Presented the Excellence in Media Award by gay singer-songwriter Clay Aiken, Tyra received official recognition of her efforts to advance the gay community.

Tyra was commended for helping to increase awareness of trans issues by featuring Isis, who identifies as “a woman born physically male”, as a contestant in Cycle 11 of America’s Next Top Model.

The former model and television host, 35, invited Isis to appear as a guest on The Tyra Banks Show, so she could speak at length about her identity away from the pressures of the modelling competition.

After the interview, Tyra told Isis that she would foot the bill for Isis’ gender-reassignment surgery, and in her acceptance speech last night, exclaimed “You embraced me and now I embrace you in front of millions to show how beautiful you are, how absolutely amazing you are, how giving you are, and I will continue to do that as long as I have a platform. I will continue to get the message out about gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people.”

Lesbian icon kd lang picked up the award for Outstanding Music Artist for her latest album, Watershed, beating other nominees Sam Sparro and Hercules and Love Affair. The New York Times and Newsweek received gongs for their respective, balanced coverage and representation of LGBT issues.

The Special Recognition Award was given to ‘The Laramie Project, 10 Years Later – The Lasting Legacy of Matthew Shepard’ a two-hour radio documentary by Romaine Patterson about the social impacts of The Laramie Project, the award-winning play and film documenting the brutal, homophobic murder of Matthew Shepard.

GLAAD is holding two futher Media Awards over the next few months; one in Los Angeles and another in San Francisco. Nominees include Milk, Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Brideshead Revisited for Outstanding Film and Skins, Ugly Betty and Desperate Housewives for Outstanding Comedy Series.