After more than a year of speculation, Olympian-turned-reality-star Bruce Jenner confirmed that he is transitioning into a woman.
“For all intents and purposes, I am a woman,” Jenner, 65, told ABC’s Diane Sawyer in a riveting two-hour 20/20 interview that drew huge ratings Friday night (about 18 million people tuned in).
“It’s going to be tough…I’ve been thinking about this day forever,” Jenner said, nervous and awkward, his eyes tearing up as the interview began.
“I would say I’ve been confused about my gender identity since I was this big,” Jenner began, explaining that God looked down at “Little Bruce” and gave him “the soul of a female.”
Expressing his dislike of the phrase “a girl stuck in a guy’s body,” Jenner said, “I’m me, this is who I am, I’m not stuck in anybody’s body.”
“My brain is much more female than male,” he added. “It’s hard for people to understand that, but that’s what my soul is.”
Once hailed the world’s greatest athlete, it was a very hard announcement for Bruce Jenner to make.
“I don’t want to disappoint people,” Jenner said sadly.
But as the interview unfolded, it was clear Jenner has been tortured by his secret for decades, and he even admitted that he once contemplated suicide.
His “big time fear” is part of what fueled his athletic excellence: “I was a confused person at that time…running away from who I was.” When he won the gold medal in the decathlon at the 1976 Olympics, Jenner didn’t feel joy inside. “I was so sad,” he revealed. “Not only was that part of my life over, but I had so many issues to deal with.”
Jenner, who spoke in the third person quite a bit throughout the interview (but preferred the pronoun “he/him” during the sitdown), disclosed why he’s decided to reveal his true gender identity now – at age 65.
“Bruce…always telling a lie. Lived a lie his whole life about who he is. I can’t do that any more,” Jenner said.
Later he stated, “If I die, I would be so mad at myself for not exploring that side of myself.”
The irony, of course, is that Jenner was living this “double life” while appearing on the king of all “reality” shows, Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
“We did 425 episodes, over 8 years…and the entire run I kept thinking to myself, the one real, true story in the family, was the one I was hiding and nobody knew about it,” Jenner said. “The one here in my soul, and I could not tell that story.”
Now that he is telling his story, how did his family take it? “They all cried,” Jenner said of his six children and four stepchildren. He also admitted “there’s a little bit of embarrassment” for the family, but for the most part, they’ve been supportive.
Two of his ex-wives, Chrystie Scott and Linda Thompson, also expressed their support for him in statements read for the ABC special, while Kris Jenner, to whom Bruce was married for 22 years, offered “no comment.”
One thing is for sure: The Bruce Jenner that viewers saw in this interview has indeed been transformed. Gone is the putzy dad known for being the “Kardashians' punching bag,” as Jenner called it, the one taunted and targeted by the paparazzi for years. He was brave and open and authentic and happy, even.
By revealing his true self to the world and proving it’s never too late to find yourself, Jenner hopes to do some real good. “I hope we can save some lives here,” Jenner said.
As the show wrapped, Sawyer asked Jenner if he’s going to be okay.
“I hope I’m going to be okay,” he said. “I feel like I’m going to be okay… 2015 is going to be quite a ride.”
This interview is the last one that Jenner will do as “Bruce.” He will re-emerge as “her” next year.
His final words: “Please have an open mind and an open heart. I’m not this bad person. I’m just doing what I have to do.”
Here’s what else we learned during Bruce Jenner’s Interview:
-- “I’m not gay. I am, as far as I know, heterosexual…I’ve never been with a guy.” Later he said, “Let’s go with asexual...for now.”
-- He’s a conservative Republican. (And that may have been the most shocking revelation in the entire interview!)
-- Jenner would not reveal what “her” new name will be.
-- Jenner began cross-dressing in childhood. Stepdaughter Kim and daughters Kendall and Kylie all caught him wearing women’s dresses around the house.
-- All three of Jenner’s ex-wives knew his secret. “I wasn’t as fair as I should have been,” Jenner said of his failed marriages, “and I’ve apologized to everybody.”
-- Jenner has been taking hormones for 18 months; he also secretly took hormones for 5 years in the 1980s but stopped them.
-- He has not decided anything yet regarding having gender reassignment surgery, but, “If I were to do SRS, it would be down the line.”
-- His kids will still call him “Dad.”
-- “Kimberly [Kardashian] has been by far the most accepting and the easiest to talk to about it.” (With a little help from Kanye.)
-- “Khloe [Kardashian] is the one taking it the hardest. She’s had the toughest time with it. She’s had a lot of losses in her life. Her dad, Lamar… She feels a massive, ‘My life is falling apart.’”
-- Would he marry again? “That’s the last thing in the world I’m thinking about right now. I want to have a free soul. And have great friends. And enjoy life as who I am.” Another modest goal: “Wear my nail polish until it’s chipping off.”
-- In his next house, he’s building “a glam room.”
-- Bruce Jenner’s mom rules: "I’m more proud of you now than I was at the height of your Olympic glory,” Mrs. Jenner said in a segment. “I want you to be happy. I love you."
-- Jenner’s “journey” will continue; his new life as a transgender woman will be chronicled in an E! docu-series, when eight one-hour episodes begin airing July 26.