Keeping up with Caitlyn Jenner: New life, new goals
She's got it
While you were a part of one of the most popular TV show in the world (Keeping Up With The Kardashians) your transition into a woman had already began, but that was a secret for the audience. So was it anyhow scary that this secret would be discovered before you were ready to share it with the world?
I used to practice crossdressing and my whole life I was scared to death that I could get caught on the road or in a hotel or someplace in a woman's outfit. But what tortured me more was my constant thinking about why I was doing it: "Is it cause of possibly getting caught? And how far can I go and how many chances can I take and not get caught? Or maybe that's who I really am?". I was really scared in the past but today I am free from secrets and free from fears. Last year, I won Barbara Walters' Most Fascinating Person in the world and I was thinking to myself: "This is kind of cool, but since now I will never win that award again". Why? Because you always need to open a secret for that and now I don't have any left.
Can you talk about the reaction your children had when you told them about the change you are going to do?
My kids were great! I started off with my son Brandon and he said to me one of the most amazing things I've ever heard: "Dad, I have always been so proud to be your son. But I've never been more proud of you than right now". And that was a wonderful start! My girls, I was particularly concerned about my younger daughters just because they were so vulnerable. I remember sitting there and talking to them and I had said that I'm going to go through a complete transition. And they were like: "Oh my God! How is that going to work out?". And my sister was terrified: "How can you do that?". But I think they were really concerned for me because they loved me.
I saw the interview with Diane Sawyer for the first time together with Courtney, Kimberly, Chloe and Kris. And after fifteen or maybe twenty minutes into the show social media started going crazy. But I was sitting on the couch with the most social media family in the world so no surprise about it. So social media started going crazy and in a positive way. And then the celebrity world started reacting. I think it was Lady Gaga who was the first to write she was so proud of me. And then Elton John, Jennifer Lopez, and the list just went on and on and on. And my kids were reading all these! I think right then they knew it's going to be okay.
You started your new show I Am Cait recently where you raised the problem about how it feels to be a transgender woman in contemporary society. So my question is what was your idea for doing this TV show? Did you want people to walk in your shoes or maybe this is a kind of political statement?
Well, what I wanted to do right from the beginning with the show was just living my authentic self. I got to the point in my life where my kids were raised, life was in order, I was at peace with God about who I was, and I said to myself: "Okay, if I can do this and live authentically, how can I make a difference and I influence the life in the community?". The LGBT community has a lot of issues to deal with and these issues are extremely serious. People commit suicide over their sexual orientation problems. What is more people are murdered over this issue and that's terrifying. This is much bigger than a game—this is our reality. Whether you want to face it or not it is here and it's not that careless. So I want to make a difference and that's why I started the show. I wanted to meet other girls and boys like me and to discuss openly what we are concerned about. We want people to meet and accept us. Yeah, it's been a challenge and I have had to learn a lot along the way and those guys from the show team taught me and so has the rest of the community taught me a lot of things.
There are other trans people beside you in the show. Was it important to involve them?
Absolutely. I wanted to tell different stories of different people. These men and women, they all are worthy and deserve understanding. Transition is not a whim. It's the most difficult decision we ever made, believe me. And by telling our stories we want some respect. We want to change the attitude and if we can do it those who will live after us will live in a better world.
What does being a woman mean to you?
It means being true to yourself. There are a lot of things about womanhood that I am still learning and I feel pure pleasure in this learning process. And I think gender is not something you should take for granted but a journey to your true self. We all learn about our gender and about who we are as a person for all our lives. I have had this woman you see now living inside me for many years. Finally, it's her opportunity to come out to the forestage and put little Bruce inside. But I remain the same person and that what really matters.
Caitlyn, what do you miss about Bruce?
I am trying to think what I miss about him, and I just can't find a thing... So it seems I don't miss him at all. Today I am much more comfortable about who I am than some years ago. But as far as I said earlier, this woman has lived inside me all my life and it's time to let her to expose herself and live authentically. I believe that through doing that, I mean through being my true self, maybe I can have a platform to make a difference in the world. So today it's Bruce's turn to live inside. But again I still have the same views, my relationships with people remain the same (and I feel blessed about it), I still fly airplanes or go to the racetrack. My life remains the same except one nuance which is now I am happy and totally satisfied with who I am. Honestly, it was in some way sad to change the name and gender marker and to say "Bye" to Bruce. That was pretty traumatic to me, because he was a good guy. But now he is gone.
"This is a man's world" as we all know and it seems so much easier to be a man in our society. And I was wondering if you have experienced sexism as a woman already?
Well that's truly a man's world. For me, I have lived an extraordinary life. I have stood on top of the platform and the world perceived me as this macho male, successful and physically perfect. I was conquering the world and that was a very powerful feeling. But was it me? No, it was a portion of me. Now for the last nine months, ten months, I have had the opportunity to live my true self that people never knew. It was amazing, when Vanity Fair came out and everything changed. That was the first time they saw me and the first time they learned the name. It was the time to throw old Bruce right out under the bus. He was like gone. This Caitlyn girl, she is a lot more interesting. Waking up in the morning the other day, I was walking around the house and I thought, you know what, I was just happy. It was so simple and I so meaningful at the same time. People often ask me about the transition from the male powerful role to the weaker female role. And I keep on telling them I don't think women are weak. A lot of women just don't understand the power of their femininity and the power of being a woman.
Have you already discovered what are those powers?
Recently I invited Sharon Stone over. We met and talked about just anything. And then she said: "Women don't realize the power of touch". I didn't get it and she explained. She was in the audition for "Casino" and she wanted to get the role badly. So she was doing the scene with Martin Scorsese who played instead of the actor in episode. And she put her finger on Scorsese's hand and kept that finger there and never lost that touch. She had all his attention and the role. That's just an example of those little things women have to control men and "their" world. I think a lot of women don't realize the powers that they do have. Learning to be a woman is going to be a very interesting journey. And I am so happy to be on this team.
Do you have any goals to achieve in your new life?
I have achieved one goal and that is contentment and happiness. And now the next is about how can I make a difference. I want to see how we can bring this issue of being a transgender forward. And it's not just here, it's around the world. And how we can make it better for the next generation coming up. It's going to be a long road and I can't certainly do it all myself and it's probably not going to happen in my lifetime. But I hope that we move forward. This issue is not swept under the rug anymore and that is a great start. I started my show I Am Cait to spread information about trans people. And episode number four is everything I have ever wanted in this show. And I am happy the show is played all over the world. Because this is a common human issue and it doesn't have borders. So it is an issue that is a global issue, and the way other countries deal with it is totally different than what we have here in the US.
It was 40 years ago at the Olympic Games in Montreal and you were awarded like the most complete and most powerful male athlete in the world...
And I am still very proud of that moment.
You should be. But did you know in that moment 40 years ago that Caitlyn was there? How did you combine your sport career and your inner woman?
My life has been constantly about diversions and not dealing with myself. I had gender issues back in the 50s and 60s that I couldn't talk about. I was a dyslexic kid, suffering from low self-esteem, thinking that everyone else is smarter than me, better students than me, all these issues. And I found my one thing to forget about all these painful thoughts and that was sports. And, yeah, I was pretty good at it and I didn't have to think about or deal with the rest of the world because of sports. When I started off at school I never thought I would take it to the extent that I did but I guarantee you through that twelve years of my life, there was always that dyslexic kid, that gender disparate kid living in the back of my head, that was going to prove to the world that he was worth something. It created a tremendous amount of drive in me to go out there to succeed, and I took it all away to where the last three years of my career when I broke the world record and I was ranked number one in the world three times. But I remember waking up the morning after the Olympics and looking in the mirror, with the gold medal on my chest, and thinking about what was next. What would be my next purpose? Where should I go from here? It was a really scary moment in my life.
Fortunately, the next day ABC called and asked if I wanted to come to work for them and I thought: "Oh my god, I got a job!". This was wonderful and I dove into other things and I dove into family for the next 30 something years. But I was constantly living distractions. And then in the 80s I thought I would go through gender transition and I thought I would do it before I was 40. But when I got 39, I could not do it. Just couldn't. I had done a bunch of stuff and the rumor mill started. Kris and I had gone separate directions which is fine and I had raised ten of the most beautiful children in the world, all successful, hardworking, great kids. I had done that job. Now, it's going to be about me. How am I going to deal with myself, when I am dealing with the same issues at 65 that I was dealing with when I was eight years old? What the hell am I going to do? And that was when I started the process. But I believed in myself more than ever. And now I am absolutely free and happy.
I have only watched the first few episodes of I Am Cait, but you seem to talk about everything on the show and one of the issues that you also talk about is love and finding love for trans people...
Well, I am at a different place in life where I've already been a partner, a father, a friend and whatever. So relationship now is a less of an issue for me now. But in our show there's a girl Ella who is only 18 years old and who went through a transition just a few months before me. So for her finding love is a big issue. She looks to the future with hope that someday she'll find someone who can make her happy. On one of the episodes I talked to a lawyer about what are the possibilities for trans people, male or female. I mean marriage, family, all of those types of things. And to be honest with you, when I was watching the show, I was actually encouraged by it. I believe world can be a better place where people are free and happy and they treat each other like equal no matter their sexual orientation or something.
If a man wants to seduce you, what is he supposed to do?
I have no idea, really... You know what is very interesting in this whole thing, is that I hated to go out in the old days. I never went out even with the family. Now, everything is different! (laughs) Now I find so much fun in being somewhere outside my home. I do really enjoy going out with my girls, friends and family to dinner or to some event. Now I feel free to enjoy life and that's what I like most about being Caitlyn.
Are you a good cook?
(laughs) That hasn't improved. No, I do a little bit of cooking, but I don't dwell on that. And actually thank you for the interview, it was a lot of fun. Now let's go for the Golden Globes!
- Image: Getty Images
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