It was the moment America watched collectively with a thousand questions. But it feels like the entire world assembled for the answers from Bruce Jenner‘s tell-all interview with Diane Sawyer on ABC Friday night. Visibly nervous at first, the highly-decorated Olympian and recently most famous reality-TV dad seemed nervous to let the cameras into his Malibu home. But with the resolve of an athlete, he remained focused on the goal, saying: “What I’m doing is going to do some good.”
Jenner shared that his daughter, Kim Kardashian came to terms with the transition with help from her husband, Kanye West. Kanye used his own life as an analogy: “I can be married to the most beautiful woman in the world, and I am. I could have the most beautiful little daughter in the world, and I do. But I’m nothing if I can’t be me. If I can’t be true to myself, they don’t mean anything.”
Although Jenner says he’s always felt like his soul is female, he’s attracted to the opposite sex and considers himself heterosexual: “I never was attracted to the guys. The sexuality was different.” Jenner shares that he’s always felt lonely because of his inner conflict, and he threw himself into sports so that he didn’t have to think about it.
The TV special tracks his incredible Olympic career as a decorated decathlon. He shares that he confessed to first wife, Linda Thompson, that he was interested in cross-dressing, and she was willing to keep his secret. He made it clear that he’s not gay, even when Sawyer asked him flat out if he was lesbian. But he contends that his soul is female, and that he even dreams as a woman.
Jenner began his transition at 40, taking hormone therapy as early as the ’80s, for five years. This is also the time when Jenner’s plastic surgery procedures began. After being on hormones for years, he met Kris Jenner. He revealed that she saw him dressed in women’s clothing, early on in the marriage. But she instead focused on her role as his wife and manager, reviving the Bruce Jenner brand with infomercials and expanding their family. The two were married for 23 years before separating last year. He revealed this his gender was a conflict in the marriage, and has since apologized to all three of his wives: “I’ve been doing nothing but apologizing my entire life.”
He shared that he loved Kris and learned a lot from her, and that their marriage was passionate: “I thought we had a pretty good sex life.” On the colossal juggernaut that is Keeping Up With The Kardashians, he laughs, “I had the story.” While filming the show for 16 years, he thought all along: “The one real true story in the family was the one I was hiding and nobody knew about it.”
Four of his children, including his son, Brandon Jenner appeared on the show, who admitted that he’s not handling the situation perfectly, but is supportive of his father: “I feel like I’m getting an upgraded version of my dad.” The children shared that they had questions, but Bruce told them he’s still just dad, without question: “I’m Dad. You can call me Dad. I will always be your Dad.”
The Kardashians were absent from the special, but Jenner shared their words of support. Kim was the first to catch him a dress. It was a big secret in the family and they never talked about it again. His youngest daughters, Kendall and Kylie Jenner, also saw cross-dressing, but they also didn’t talk about it. Months later, he sat down the Kardashian kids and told them the secret, and says they cried because they’re protective of him. “Why do you have to do it now, Dad? Are you kidding me?” He reveals Khloe Kardashian is taking the news hardest: “Khloe’s had the toughest time with it, because she’s had a lot of losses in her life.” He said the girls are reluctant to see “Her,” the term he calls his transitioned version.
Throughout the interview, Sawyer provided details about transgender identity, breaking down the distinctions and differences between gender identity and sexuality. Doctors revealed that transgender identity may signal in the brain as early as 18 months in babies. Unfortunately, 45% of teenagers who don’t seek help from a trusted professional attempt suicide. Doctors believe that the effects of not exploring this part of identity can be catastrophic. Jenner expands on his own suicidal thoughts as well after a nasty run-in with paparazzi, but couldn’t do it, saying: “I want to know how this story ends.”
Jenner is steadfast in his journey: “My whole life has been getting me ready for this.” We salute the honesty in an interview that will truly be remembered as one of pop culture’s most important moments.
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