Bruce Jenner Says He Is Transgender And Has The 'Soul Of Female'
Bruce Jenner came out as a transgender woman in a highly anticipated 2-hour interview special that aired tonight on 20/20. The former Olympic decathlete, gold medal hero on the Wheaties box and Keeping Up With The Kardashians patriarch told Diane Sawyer, "For all intents and purposes, I'm a woman."
Jenner spoke to Sawyer in Malibu, California, and the pair also returned to his hometown of Tarrytown, New York to talk about what it was like growing up with a confused gender identity in the 1950s. He describes himself as a "lonely boy" who felt deeply uncomfortable in his own skin. It wasn't until his first marriage that he spoke to anyone about his gender identity. He later spoke to his sister and his wives about it, but he's mostly kept it under wraps. It was only recently that he's started telling his children and now the public.
There had been a lot of speculation that Jenner was transitioning but tonight's interview marks the first time he's spoken publicly. Just as his interview aired, the news broke that the reality series focusing on his transition is set to debut this summer. It was put on hold in part because Jenner was involved in a Malibu crash that killed one woman.
We've highlighted some of the most interesting parts of the interview.
Though Bruce calls himself a woman and says that he has the "soul of a female," we're going to continue using male pronouns. During the interview, Jenner referred to himself using male pronouns and he has continued to call himself "Bruce," but he sometimes refers to himself as "her." GLAAD released a statement explaining that it's not unusual for transgender people to switch pronouns gradually on their own schedule.
But it sounds like he's almost ready. He says that this interview is the last time that he'll appear in public as "Bruce." He said his kids can still call him "Dad" but he isn't yet sharing the female name that he's chosen from himself. He joked it won't start with a "K": "She’s definitely a Jenner."
Jenner says that when he was 8 or 9, he started sneaking into his mother's or sisters' closets, "I marked the closet so when I put it back I could put it all back, everything back in the exact same spot so I wouldn’t get caught. And, at the time, I didn’t know why I was doing it besides it just made me feel good."
He continued cross dressing as an adult, and he particularly enjoyed stopping staying in hotels on the road while he was a motivational speaker even though he felt like he was living a lie: "I'd literally go up into the hotel room, change [into women’s] clothes, and walk around."
What it means about coming out as the icon "Bruce Jenner":
"One thing that is so important to this whole process is we have to keep our sense of humor about this, okay? It's honestly, it's really pretty funny. Me? Of all people! 'Bruce Jenner' has to deal with all these issues. Literally running away from all this stuff."
He also said, "People look at me differently. They see you as this macho male, but my heart and my soul and everything that I do in life—it is part of me. That female side is part of me. That's who I am."
What took him so long:
"Why now? I just can't pull the curtain any longer, okay? I've built a nice little life. I just can't...again, Bruce lives a lie but 'she' is not a lie. I can't do it any more."
He added, "If I die, which, I could be diagnosed next week with cancer—and boom you’re gone. I would be so mad at myself that I didn’t explore that side of me. You know? And I don’t want that to happen."
On his sexual orientation:
"I've always been heterosexual. I've never been with a guy." He felt that he could have been more honest in his previous marriages, "I wasn't as fair as I should have been."
All his ex-wives, including Kris Jenner, have known about his struggles. He said the first person he spoke to about being transgender was his first wife and college sweetheart Chrystie Scott: "I said 'These are my issues. This is what I deal with. And I think I do a little cross dressing, I do a little of this, a little of that, you know.'" Scott sent a note of support to 20/20 about his transition. Kris Jenner declined to comment.
How he's explained himself to his children:
"I would say I've always been pretty confused with my gender identity since I was this big," he says raising his hand up to his knee. "I tried to explain it, because I've had all my kids sitting in that chair. I've tried to explain it to them this way. God's looking down making little Bruce. Okay? He's looking down and he says, 'What are we going to do with this one?" Make him a smart kid, very determined, he gave me all these wonderful qualities. And then at the end, when he's just finishing he goes, 'Wait a second. We got to give him something. Everybody has stuff in their life that they have to deal with, you know? What are we going to give him?' Then God chuckles a little bit and says 'Hey, let's give him the soul of the female and see how he deals with that.' As of now, I have all the male parts and all that kind of stuff. So in a lot of ways we're different but we still identify as female. And that's very hard for Bruce Jenner to say."
The person who has been most understanding has been Kim:
"Kim told me a story. She goes, 'You know what really turned me around on thinking about this?' I said, 'What?' She goes, 'Kanye.' I went, 'Oh, okay.' They were talking about it. And he says to Kim, 'Look, I can be married to the most beautiful woman in the world. And I am. I can have the most beautiful little daughter in the world. I have that. But I'm nothing if I can't be me. If I can't be true to myself. They don't mean anything.'"
He added, "And since then, Kimberly has been by far the most accepting. And the easiest to talk to about it."
On hiding in plain sight:
"I had the story. We had done 425 episodes I think, over almost eight years, and the entire run I kept thinking to myself, 'Oh my god, this whole thing.' The one real true story in the family was the one I was hiding and nobody knew about it. 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."
On whether it's all a publicity stunt:
"Are you telling me I'm going to go through a complete gender change—okay?—and go for everything you need to do for that for the show? Sorry Diane: it ain't happening, okay? We're doing this for publicity? Yeah right. Oh my god, do you have any idea of what I've been going through all my life and they're going to say I'm doing this for publicity for a show?"
On his political and religious beliefs:
"I've always been more on the conservative side." Sawyer pressed him and asked him if he is a Republican. He said he is and that he's a Christian as well: "I would sit in church and always wonder, 'In God's eyes, how does he see me?'" He added, "Maybe this is my cause in life."
He hopes coming out will help others:
"What I'm doing is going to do some good, and we're going to change the world. I really firmly believe that we're going to make a difference in the world with what we're doing. And if the whole Kardashian show and reality television gave me that foothold into that world to be able to go out there and do something good, I'm all for it. I got no problem with that."
He said that he's spoken with transgender actress Laverne Cox of 'Orange is the New Black' about her advocacy work and for advice about publicly transitioning. He wants to help the movement but he admits he has a lot to learn, "I would like to work with this community to get this message out. They know a lot more than I know ... I am not a spokesman for the community."