11 Things We Learned From Bruce Jenner’s Coming Out Interview
“Let’s do this.” With that, former Olympiad and Kardashian paterfamilias Bruce Jenner answered a question that many had been asking recently: Is he a transgender woman? The answer is unequivocally yes: “For all intents and purposes, I am a woman,” Jenner said. “My heart and soul and everything I do in life, it is part of me, that female side…is who I am.” In an emotional interview with Diane Sawyer on 20/20, Jenner revealed his lifelong struggle with his gender identity, being a transgender woman and what’s next. (In the interview, Jenner expressed preference to be referred to by his given name and male pronouns; we’ll continue to do so during coverage of the interview, in deference to those wishes.) “I’m gonna learn a lot in the next year,” Jenner remarked. Here’s what we learned from the interview.
This is the last interview Bruce Jenner plans to give as “Bruce Jenner.”
Jenner has been transitioning now for about 18 months (though he reveals he took hormones for five years in the 1980s, more on that below). “This is me,” Jenner explained. “This is who I am. I look at it this way: Bruce has lived a lie his whole life about who he is. And I can’t do that anymore.” Jenner did not reveal a new name during the interview, only referring to his true identity as “her.” But his transition will be the subject of an eight-part series on E!, premiering in July; eventually, Jenner will reveal his true identity in public, finally living as her. “I look at women all the time, thinking, ‘Oh my God, how lucky are they, that they can wake up in the morning and be themselves?'” Soon, Jenner will be able to do the same.
No, this is not a publicity move.
As questions about Jenner’s transition grew more intense, so too did skepticism over whether or not this was some kind of stunt intended to promote the Kardashian clan. But Jenner quickly shut that down. “Are you telling me I’m going to go through a complete gender change, and go through everything you need to do that, for the show? Sorry, Diane, it ain’t happening.” But Jenner did acknowledge that being part of one of the most famous reality-TV families in the world has given him a platform. “If the whole Kardashian show. . .gave me that foothold into that world, to be able to go out there and be able to do something good, I’m all for it. I’ve got no problem with that.”
Jenner has struggled with his gender identity since he was a small child.
The first time Jenner knew that he might actually identify as a woman was when he was very young: He would wear his mother’s dresses and leave his parents’ house in Tarrytown, New York, covering his head with a scarf, to see what life was like as a woman. “I marked the closet so when I put [the dress] back, I would put everything back in the exact same spot so I wouldn’t get caught,” he explained. “I didn’t know why I was doing it, besides it just made me feel good.”
The “World’s Greatest Athlete” didn’t relish his Olympic victory.
Jenner’s fame skyrocketed after winning the gold medal in the men’s decathlon at the 1976 Olympics, setting a new world record in the process. But training for the Olympics had allowed Jenner to focus on something other than his gender identity (“I didn’t have to deal with me”), and when he finally won, he felt something other than happiness. “I was so sad,” he explained. “Not only was that part of my life over, I had so many issues to deal with.”