Last night was a momentous event for Olympic champion and reality TV star Bruce Jenner: the airing of his 2-hour 20/20 interview with Diane Sawyer in which he revealed he identified as a woman and was transitioning from male to female, ending months of speculation.
(Full disclosure: For the interview, Jenner referred to himself using male pronouns, said he preferred the pronoun “he” and has not yet indicated that he’d like to be known by a female name or with female pronouns. Furthermore, Sawyer called him Bruce, so Celebuzz will use male pronouns and continue to refer to him as Bruce with his lead).
Bruce Jenner said at this moment, in this interview, we should still use the familiar pronouns "him" or "he." #BruceJennerABC
— 20/20 (@ABC2020) April 25, 2015
“For all intents and purposes, I am a woman,” the 65-year-old revealed. “People look at me differently. They see this macho male, but this female side is part of me, it’s who I am. I was not genetically born that way.”
Choking up, he began by telling Sawyer, “Diane, let’s do it. I’ve been thinking of this day forever.”
And so Bruce begins to tell his story, from becoming the hero of the 1976 Summer Olympics to the world-known, household name as a central fixture on E!’s reality TV show Keeping Up With the Kardashians, which made its debut in 2007.
He admitted “It’s gonna be kind of tough but today’s the day…it’s been really tough. But here I am, I’m still here. That’s the good news.”
He speaks of the explanation he gives his children:
I tried to explain it, because I’ve had all my kids sitting in that chair … and I’ve tried to explain it this way. God’s looking down, making little Bruce … he says, ‘Okay, what are gonna do with this one. Make him a smart kid, very determined … and then when he’s just finishing he says, ‘Let’s wait a second. We gotta give him something! Everybody has stuff in their life that they have to deal with. What are we gonna give him?’ God looks down and chuckles a little bit and goes, ‘Hey, let’s give him the soul of a female. And let’s see how he deals with that.’
I’m me. And I’m a person, this is who I am. I’m not stuck in anybody’s body. It’s just who I am as as a human being.”
He added, “My brain is much more female than it is male. It’s hard for people to understand that, but that’s what my soul is.”
“I look at it this way—Bruce always telling a lie. He’s lived a lie his whole life about who he is. And I can’t do that any longer,” Jenner said, and he let’s his hair down.
During the 2-hour interview, Jenner spoke about how he’s struggled with his gender identity his entire life, since he was a young child at 8 or 9 when he went into his sister and mother’s closet and put on a dress. He even confessed to contemplating suicide.
In the late ’80s, Jenner took the female hormone estrogen for five years and has undergone cosmetic facial surgeries. He met and fell in love with the woman who would become his third wife, Kris Jenner, and they married in 1991. Had she been more understanding, Bruce admits their marriage might have lasted longer.
He’s kept his life-long secret under-wraps from everyone with the exception of his sisters and ex-wives, that is until recently when he told his mother and his children (six biological from three marriages, and four step-children).
“They all cried. Mainly because they didn’t want anybody to hurt dad,” Jenner said. “They are very protective of me.”
As for the future, Jenner revealed he has been undergoing hormone therapy for a year and a half, but that he hasn’t made up his mind about reassignment surgery. He will chronicle his journey and transition in an E! documentary series, which will begin broadcasting this summer.
On his feminine side, Bruce clarifies she’s not a Kardashian. “No, no. She’s definitely a Jenner. Very chic, classy, black little outfit [shows a little black dress to Diane Sawyer].”
“As of now, I have all the male parts and all that kind of stuff, so in a lot of ways we’re different, okay?” he explained. “But we still identify as female. And that’s very hard for Bruce Jenner to say. Because why? I don’t want to disappoint people.”
He decided not to share his female name, but no, it won’t be starting with a “K.” Jenner also revealed he’s only ever been attracted to women.
And no, his gender transition is not part of any shamless ploy to get more publicity for Keeping Up With the Kardashians and the Kardashian empire he’s been an inherent part of since the beginning (as some ludicrous people might have been wondering).
“What I’m doing, is going to do some good. And we’re gonna change the world. I really firmly believe that we’re going to make a difference in the world with what we’re doing.”
For 8 years on the show however, Jenner admitted his secret loomed overhead all that time.
“The one real true story in the family was the one I was hiding, and nobody knew about it,” he said. “The one thing that could really make a difference in people’s lives was right here in my soul, and I could not tell that story.”
That is, until now. “Have an open mind and an open heart. I’m not this bad person. I’m just doing what I have to do,” Jenner adds.
GLAAD’s Director of Programs, Transgender Media, Nick Adams made a statement saying,
Every transgender person’s journey is unique, and by choosing to share this story, Bruce Jenner adds another layer to America’s understanding of what it means to be transgender.
We hope that after hearing Jenner’s story, people will want to learn more about the issues and challenges facing their transgender friends, co-workers, and family members. Stories like these will help create a world in which everyone can express their gender identity without fear of discrimination and violence.