Did any of you watch the remarkable interview Bruce Jenner did with Diane Sawyer? In the two hour special which aired on ABC’s 20/20 Friday night, the 1970s Olympic champion and present day reality star confirmed that he is currently undergoing a gender transition.
“For all intents and purposes, I am a woman,” he told Diane. “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, and so 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.”
Bruce’s struggle with gender identity has been life-long. At eight years of age he was compelled to sneak into his older sister’s closet and try on one of her dresses. His pursuit of Olympic gold in the 70s was partly driven by his need to prove his manhood–mostly to himself.
He’s spent the past 8 years starring alongside his now ex-wife and children in the reality show, Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Diane wondered if he regretted being involved in the show. He chuckled and remarked that they taped 400+ hours of “reality,” while the “real” story was kept completely under wraps.
Also, he scoffed at the idea that his transition was a publicity stunt. “What I’m doing is going to do some good. And we’re gonna change the world. I really firmly believe that, that we’re going to make a difference in the world with what we’re doing.”
Most touching was the reaction of his children. The father of 10 kids altogether–2 kids with his first wife, 2 with his second, 2 biological children with 3rd wife Kris and stepdad to the 4 Kardashians. The oldest kids were interviewed with Bruce, and could not have been more supportive and loving. They all seem to be down to earth and grounded as well. The Kardashian clan didn’t appear, but they did offer up supportive statements to ABC and on twitter after the show aired.
During the broadcast, it was announced that Bruce would star in his own eight-part, one-hour docuseries for E! that will follow his transition and life as a transgender woman. Bruce’s series, which is not-yet-titled, will premiere on July 26 at 9 p.m. on E!
Bruce has endured ridicule in the last 20 or so years, particularly due to his seemingly odd physical transformation. I had my own snarky thoughts concerning the man, and just figured the weird clothes and plastic surgeries were proof of an egocentric and narcissistic personality. Regardless of past athletic accomplishments, I thought he’d turned into a joke. But now, it’s pretty clear Bruce was suffering a great deal and doing his best to sort who he was. After 5 years of taking hormones in the 80’s, and despite feeling better about himself, he decided to stop because he was afraid of hurting his children. I know now that judging him so harshly was mean spirited and shortsighted.
Interestingly, he confessed to be being both religious and politically conservative–he dissed Obama when Diane brought him up in the interview “I believe in the constitution,” Bruce said. I wonder how that’s going to work out for him now that he’s out. He also hedged answering questions about his sexuality. While making the IMPORTANT distinction between gender identity and sexuality (they ARE two separate issues), he insisted that he’s always been attracted to woman and is not gay. When Diane asked if he were a lesbian, he wouldn’t commit. He also wanted to be referred to with male pronouns for the time being. He’s got a lot to sort out, obviously. Navigating his complicated path in public could be really tricky. I hope that works out OK for him and that the press respects his difficult journey.
A trans woman, interviewed on a local news program here in Boston recently, was asked to share her thoughts on the increasing visibility of trans people in pop culture. She was sceptical and even a little dismissive of Bruce and the publicity surrounding his transition. I understand the concern that important issues become trivialized once they are sucked into the reality show maw. But Bruce seems to be committed to sharing his story honestly. It can only help others who are struggling with the same issues.
Check out the biggest moments from the interview below:
Bruce Jenner: ‘I’m a Woman’
Bruce Jenner Says This is Not a Publicity Stunt
Bruce Jenner Remembers First Time He Wore a Dress
Who Was the First Person Jenner Told?
Bruce Jenner: ‘I’m Not Gay’
Bruce Jenner Took Female Hormones in the 1980s
Bruce Jenner: ‘I Had The Story’
Bruce Jenner Was Terrified To Tell His Kids
Brandon Jenner ‘More Proud Than Ever’ of His Father
Bruce Jenner: Kim Kardashian ‘Caught Me One Time’ in a Dress
Bruce Jenner on Kanye West’s Reaction