7 of the Most Meaningful Moments From the Bruce Jenner Interview
After months of speculation during which dozens of outlets—from the tabloids to The New York Times—weighed in on Bruce Jenner’s changing appearance and questioned his gender identity, the world-renowned athlete and reality TV star put an end to the speculation on Friday evening. Bruce Jenner is a woman.
(Note: Jenner specifically indicated during the interview that he preferred to be referred to with male pronouns for the time being.)
The 20/20 interview with Diane Sawyer spanned two hours, delving into the 65-year-old’s childhood; his days as a professional athlete; the reaction of his sister, mother, and 10 children; and how his life will change in the days to come.
Setting the Record Straight, Once and for All
Sawyer wasted little time getting to the question at hand. Just five minutes in, Jenner let down his ponytail in what Sawyer called a symbolic gesture. “For all intents and purposes, I am a woman,” he 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.”
A Lifetime of Struggle
While traveling back to his hometown of Tarrytown, New York, Jenner recounted the first time he felt female, trying on his mother’s and sister’s dresses at the age of eight or nine. Growing up in the 1960s pre-Internet age meant there was little information for a young person struggling with identity, and Jenner didn’t know what to make of his feelings or whom to ask. “I didn’t know why I was doing it, except it just made me feel good,” he said about wearing women’s clothing. Jenner struggled to come to terms with his identity and took female hormones in the 1980s for almost five years, but he stopped for fear of hurting his children. He has been back on hormone replacement therapy for the past year and a half. While all three of his ex-wives knew of his gender identity issues to some extent, Jenner said his decision to ultimately transition in his 60s ended his marriage to Keeping Up With The Kardashians matriarch Kris Jenner.
After Jenner’s split from Kris, photos of him with longer hair and a seemingly altered appearance surfaced thanks to an unrelenting stream of paparazzi. Jenner admitted that he briefly contemplated suicide when news of his trachea-shaving appointment hit the Internet, but the thoughts passed, as he wanted to continue on with his journey. That’s where that elusive quote “I want to see how this story ends,” which ABC used to promote the interview, comes from. Suicidal thoughts are not uncommon for transgender people. According to a 2014 study, as many as 40 percent attempt suicide.
The Difference Between Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
When Sawyer pressed Jenner about sexual orientation, he responded, “It’s apples and oranges.” A common misconception surrounding the transgender community is that gender identity is automatically intertwined with sexuality. Jenner told Sawyer that he has never been with a man and is not gay. “Sexuality is who you personally are attracted to—who turns you on—male or female,” he explained. “But gender identity has to do with who you are as a person and your soul, and who you identify with inside.”
Acceptance From Those Who Matter Most
Jenner’s eyes welled up when Sawyer asked about when he told his children. Four of them talked to her about how they were handling their father’s news. All spoke candidly, and while none claimed it was easy, all expressed their gratitude for their father. Brody Jenner summed up the support best: “All the traits I loved about Bruce, she still has as a woman.” As for Jenner’s Kardashian stepchildren, he said that Khloe has taken the news the hardest, and Kim has been the most open and accepting. Although ABC News reported that Kris Jenner declined to comment, she tweeted during the interview, “Not only was I able to call him my husband for 25 years and father of my children, I am now able to call him my hero.”
The Effect on the Transgender Community
Jenner noted that he spoke with transgender actor Laverne Cox about making his transition public, and added that he was not a spokesperson for the transgender community. Still, as he is a high-profile public figure, his announcement is something of a watershed moment for the marginalized community and will add to the country’s awareness and understanding. “What I’m doing is going to do some good,” he said. “We’re going to make a difference in the world with what we’re doing.”
It’s the Little Things That Count
Jenner is taking his life one day at a time. While the kids will still call him “Dad,” he has chosen a female name, but he isn’t ready to share it with the world just yet. For now, he has his sights set on smaller triumphs: “I want to be able to have my nail polish on long enough that it actually chips off!”