After weeks of playing a guessing game, the former world’s greatest athlete, Bruce Jenner, came out as transgender to Dianne Sawyer in a two-hour interview that aired Friday night.
“People look at me differently,” the 65-year-old said. “They see you as this macho male, but my heart and my soul are everything that I do in life — it’s part of me. That female side is part of me. That’s who I am.”
Jenner, who asked to be referred to with male pronouns, emphasized that as a man or a woman, he is still attracted to females.
“I am not gay,” he said. “I am, as far as I know, heterosexual. I’ve never been with a guy.”
When Sawyer pressed him on sexuality, Jenner explained, “There’s two different things here. Sexuality is who you personally are attracted to – who turns you on – male or female. But gender identity has to do with who you are as a person and your soul, and who you identify with inside, okay?”
Dr. Norman Spack of Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School explained it as well, saying, “Sexual orientation is who you go to bed with. Gender identity is who you go to bed as.”
Jenner started to wear his mother or sisters’ dresses when he was eight or nine years old, in the late 1950s. He said in the interview that he started cross-dressing as an adult, mostly when he was on road trips giving motivational speeches.
“I’d literally go up into the hotel room, change [into women’s] clothes, and walk around,” he said.
Jenner started to take estrogen hormones in the late 1980s for five years, and has been back on them for the past year and a half. He has grown out his hair and has gone through multiple facial surgeries to create softer looks.
After three wives and 10 children, Jenner has seen a lot of support from his family.
“Someone who has lived 65 years of his life as the wrong gender has every right to live the last quarter of his life as his authentic self,” his first wife, Chrystie Scott, said. “I support him and so hope the world can, too. I pray for his happiness for the rest of his journey.”
His son, Brandon Jenner, said he used to beam with pride when a stranger asked if his dad was the hero champion of the Olympics. And now, he is “just honored and more proud than ever to be a part of the family.”
His second wife, Linda Thompson, is also supportive of his transition.
“Bruce has always had my loyalty, even if he wasn’t aware of it,” she said. “I support his courage and commitment to this new chapter of his life. My hope is that his transition will inspire others who struggle with their identities and my prayer is that humanity has evolved and been educated enough to exercise kindness toward those we may perceive as ‘different.’”
Jenner hopes he will be able to work with the community and help shine light on transgender issues.
“We’re going to make a difference in the world with what we’re doing,” he said. “And if the whole Kardashian show and reality television gave me that foothold into that world – to be able to go out there and really do something good, I’m all for it. I got no problem with that.”
Since the interview, Jenner has received lots of support from not only his family, but starts like Oprah Winfrey, Laverne Cox, Larry King, Lady Gaga, Ellen DeGeneres, and many more.
GLAAD polled Americans and found out only 8 percent personally know someone who is transgender.
“In a sense, we all know someone now,” Good Morning America’s Dan Harris said.