Interview with Caitlyn Jenner: "It was sad to say bye to Bruce"
Call me Caitlyn
While you were part of one of the most popular television shows in the world — Keeping Up With The Kardashians — your transition into a woman had already began, but that was a secret for the audience. Did it faze you 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 because of the possibly of 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.
You started your new show Call me Caitlyn recently, where you raised the problem about how it feels to be a transgender woman in contemporary society. What was your idea behind doing this television show? Did you want people to walk in your shoes or is this a kind of political statement?
What I wanted to do right from the beginning of the show was to live 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?". 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. 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.
There are other trans people besides you in the show. Was it important to involve them?
Absolutely. I wanted to tell different stories of different people. 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.
Caitlyn, what do you miss about Bruce?
(laughs) 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 expose herself and live authentically. 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 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.
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's what really matters.
Have you experienced sexism as a woman already?
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. 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?
I recently invited Sharon Stone over. 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.
Do you have any goals to achieve in your new life?
I have achieved one goal and that is contentment and happiness. 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. I started my show Call me Caitlyn 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.
Can you talk about the reaction your children had when you told them about the change you are going to do?
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! 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 Kourtney, Kimberly, Khloe 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-savvy family in the world so no surprise about it. (laughs) So social media started going crazy and in a positive way. 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 should be. But did you know in that moment 40 years ago Olympic Games in Montreal that Caitlyn was there? How did you combine your sporting 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... all these issues. 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!". 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 to 39, I could not do it. I had done a bunch of stuff and the rumour 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. 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.
If man wants to seduce you, what is he supposed to do?
(laughs) 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.