Caitlyn Jenner: 'There Was Always This Woman That Lived Inside Of Me'

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Caitlyn Jenner at the 2016 Vanity Fair Oscar Party in Beverly Hills, Calif., in February 2016. (Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez/AFP/Getty Images)
Caitlyn Jenner at the 2016 Vanity Fair Oscar Party in Beverly Hills, Calif., in February 2016. (Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez/AFP/Getty Images)

Caitlyn Jenner, formerly known as Bruce Jenner, became a global celebrity in 1976 at the Olympics in Montreal. The event was the decathlon, and Jenner set a new world record with the gold.

What we didn't know at the time was that Jenner had been dressing as a woman for years prior to winning that race.

Jenner has been married to three women, most recently Kris Kardashian, which is why many Americans know Jenner from the reality TV show "Keeping Up with the Kardashians." In 2015, Jenner finally made the decision to become Caitlyn Jenner, and complete a transition that had been going on in secret for some time.

Now, Jenner (@Caitlyn_Jenner) has written a book called "The Secrets of My Life." Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson met with her at her home in Malibu, California, to talk about it.

Listen to Part 2 of this conversation:

Interview Highlights

On accepting who she is now, without erasing her past

"I'm very proud of my life. I was with Ashton Eaton the other day, who won the last two Olympic decathlons in a row, and I told him, 'You know, I've got a double, too. I won the Olympic decathlon, and also got Glamour Women of the Year award.' So, that's one that I'm very proud of. And I told him, 'Don't you dare break that.' And so I'm proud that finally, after a long, long, long journey, I can finally live my life authentically, and move forward and be happy."

On what she thinks now when she watches old videos of Bruce Jenner at the 1976 Summer Olympics

"I look at it and, I'm very proud of that moment. That's part of me. I think of it this way: I started off as a dyslexic kid, I had identity issues, I had all these things going on inside me that I couldn't talk about. And all of a sudden, sports came around, and I grasped on to that, because that was one way to prove myself, prove my masculinity.

"To be honest with you, once it was over with, I kinda got scared, 'Where do I go now?' So I don't kind of have to deal with myself. And that was, I got into family, I got into work, started raising kids. And I don't wanna use it as, those were my distractions, which I've said in the past. My kids weren't my distraction, the kids are the love of my life. It was a distraction from who I was."

On whether she ever considered not having children prior to transitioning

"I definitely thought about that. Especially with [Kris Jenner], I had gone through six years of literally hell. I isolated myself from the world, I thought I was gonna transition before I was 40 — this is in the '80s. And I got to 39, and I just couldn't go any further, I just, I couldn't do it. And I thought, 'I've gotta get back into life,' you know? And with Kris, I was, I was honest with her right from the beginning, I had to be. But also, I'm sure I downplayed it some, like, 'I can handle this,' because I had, I'd been through hell for six years. But, 'I can handle this,' and, 'Yes, this is what I want.' And we moved forward, and then we wound up having a couple of more kids ourselves, so we wound up having this extraordinarily large family, and it was great.

"And even when Kris and I, after 23 years, went our separate directions, I didn't leave because I thought I was going to transition. I just left for a lot of other reasons. But then, there I was, back in Malibu, where I had hid for years and years and years, and I thought, 'Is this what my life is all about? Is this what I'm gonna do? Am I just gonna stay in this very nice little beach house, and just rot away?' And I said, 'I just can't do that.' And so the decisions to go through with this came later."

"In a simple way, there was always this woman that lived inside of me. But I lived my life as Bruce. But she was always there, she was always present. I just finally got to the point in life where, it's time for her to live."

Caitlyn Jenner

On the first time she dressed as a woman

"We're talking 8, 9 years old. Taking my mom's clothes, or my sister's clothes — I had an older sister — and walking around in Sleepy Hollow Garden Apartments in Tarrytown, New York, scared to death that somebody was gonna catch me. I didn't have wigs or anything like that, so I put a scarf over my head. There was just always this drive for me to be myself, and I only got those opportunities once in a great while. At that time — we're talking in the late-'50s, early-'60s — there wasn't even a word for being transgender, there was no information out there. I didn't know why I felt this way, and it was honestly a long time after that that I finally kinda tried to figure out who I was."

On whether it was thrilling to dress as a woman, and why she wanted to do it

"It was, and I struggled with that a lot, and I thought about that a lot. Why do I have this desire to be myself, to go and, in some cases, obviously, out in public, is it because of the excitement of it all? Getting away with something? Maybe I'm just a cross-dresser. Maybe is this a sexual high that you get? I really didn't, I didn't know, and it took years and years to kind of figure myself out, to find out, you know what? That really is me. And in a simple way, there was always this woman that lived inside of me. But I lived my life as Bruce. But she was always there, she was always present. I just finally got to the point in life where, it's time for her to live. She's been stuck inside, sneaking around, lying, just doing all of this stuff. Maybe now — and for my case it was the age of 65 — it's time to let her live, and let's see what she can do with her life. Bruce pretty much did everything: raised a great family, won the [1976 Summer Olympics]. There was really nothing left for him, he did it all. That maybe this is the reason God put me on this Earth, at this point in time in history, because things had changed drastically. There was other trans women who have gone before me — the Laverne Coxes and the Janet Mocks, and the other ones that are out there — society had kind of turned the corner on trans issues. Still, we have a long ways to go. But it wasn't like it was back in the '50s and '60s. And so, I have a very unique platform. Maybe she can make a difference in the world."

On whether she thinks she's the most famous transgender person on Earth

"Well people call me that, I don't know. I live a pretty quiet life, it's not like ... I do! I do, honestly. I'm in this house all the time. I do actually live a very quiet life. Now, you may not believe that, because I get my picture taken every day. I went down to get coffee this morning, and sure enough I saw a guy sneaking his little lens out the window. And I get my picture taken every day. But I don't participate in media. If I do anything, I do it on social media, where I can control my message. Because I deal with a very sensitive community, we have tremendous issues in my community. Suicide, nine times higher than the general public. We have a murder rate that just keeps getting bigger and bigger. Last year was unfortunately a record year. This year, already we've had eight murders of trans women. And out of that, almost all of them are trans women of color. We have tremendous issues. We have all the way down to bathroom issues, for trans people."

On what she says to members of the trans community who don't believe she's their representative

"The only thing I'm a representative of is my story, and that's the only thing I tell. I have, the most fun I have, is like, going to dinner with a bunch of trans girls. And I just love hearing their stories, of what they had to go through. I try to encourage everybody, meet somebody who's trans, they have the most ... these are the most interesting people out there, what they've gone through in their lives, just to be able to live their life authentically, is just overwhelming in so many cases. Issues with family, with society, that, to be honest with you, they're the most fascinating people I've ever met. To hear all their stories, to see how they've had to fight so hard to live their life authentically. And so, I like hearing their stories. So, to the trans community, no, I'm not a spokesperson for the trans community. My heart's in the right place, and I'm trying to help as much as I can. But the only person I am a spokesperson for is my own story. That's all I can tell."

On why she thinks some transgender people aren't happy with her as an unofficial spokesperson

"They don't know me. All sorts of reasons why, and my book is not a political book at all, it's only a page and a half out of 340 pages. But, I do lean on the conservative side, I lean more toward the Republican side, because I believe in limited government, that's very simple. And that, as I said at the Republican National Convention, it was harder to come out as a Republican than it was to come out as trans, you know? And so, because of that, they think, just because you're trans you have to vote Democratic. And I understand that, and a lot of people are confused by that. But they don't know me."

On whether she has second thoughts about supporting President Trump, after his reversal of Obama-era protections for transgender students

"Yes, that hurt me a lot, and in fact I put out a video on it. That was very disappointing. I had talked to him during the campaign when the whole North Carolina deal was going down, and he actually has a pretty good record when it comes to the LGBT community. In 2012, before all of this, he was a supporter of a girl named Jenna Talackova, who was a trans woman who entered the Miss Canada contest, which I thought was very good. So there was a lot of indications out there that, you know what? He's gonna be OK. I did see him at the convention, and he just, like, wanted to play golf, you know, 'We gotta get together and play golf.' And for me, I love golf. And so, it woulda been a great opportunity to spend four hours, five hours, whatever it is, on a golf course, being able to talk and discuss issues and all that kinda stuff. And then when the Title IX thing came down, I talked to people who were in the meeting, and he, yeah, he made the wrong decision there. He's got so many other bigger issues that are on the table, why even go there? Just leave it alone. And it really upset me.

"I think there's a lot of people around him from the conservative side, and in this case Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, yeah he's the bigger problem. But [Trump] let it go through, so it's ... he's the president, it's on his shoulders. So now, I'm thinking, 'Oh great,' he wanted me to come down to play golf, and I thought it would be a great opportunity to spend some time with him. But now he's toxic. I couldn't do it. I mean, if I went down and played golf, I would get destroyed by the community. And my support is not for Republican issues. My support is not for Donald Trump. My support is with my community. So that's where my loyalties lie, with my community."

On whether she would vote for Trump again

"We'll see what happens in the world, we're a long ways away from that. He's gotta do a better job in the LGBT community. But we'll see, I mean there's a lot more to being president than just the LGBT community. Let's see what the world's doing three and a half years from now."

"Being trans is not what's between your legs. Being trans is about what's between your ears. It's who you are. It's about your soul."

Caitlyn Jenner

On writing in her book that fame isn't important to her

"Not at all. No, it never was. ... I could care less about fame, that's not what I'm in this for. The [1976 Summer Olympics] was not about fame, it just so happened that Roone Arledge and ABC spent a lot of time following me in 1976. And I remember about a week after the games, I was in New York City, and I had been there about a week before the games, and I walked down the street a week before the games, and nobody said anything, nobody even said, 'Hi.' A week after the games, I mean there was like traffic jams of people trying to stop to come out to shake your hand. And I thought, 'Wow, the power of television,' bringing that into people's homes. But I'm also very proud of that part of my life. But fame, no, it wasn't about being famous. But after that, I just had the opportunity to get into television — I didn't have a job, I was living on $10,000 a year, I was living on nothing. But all of a sudden television gave me the opportunity to work and make a good living, and there is the 'business of fame,' and I've tried to work kind of that business for many, many years, 40 years now."

On whether she enjoyed being part of "Keeping Up with the Kardashians"

"Yeah, oh I had a great time. I had some of the best conversations with my kids shooting that show than I ever had privately. It kinda forces you to sit down and look at a lot of the issues with the family. So, yeah, I mean it was a great experience. Especially for my kids, I mean, because of that, they all have taken that and been very successful at what they do. Like, take Kimberly, being a celebrity is a business, and she has run that business very well. And stayed relevant for so many years. I mean I've got a lotta respect for that, and she works hard, all my kids work extraordinarily hard, every day."

On undergoing the "final surgery"

"It's a subject, out of respect for my community, it's really a subject that I don't really talk about. I would never ask you such a personal question, just because you're trans doesn't mean you can ask a trans person any question you want. And that's a very personal thing. So out of respect to the community, I really don't get into it. If you wanna find out my thinking about it, and about why I went through that, read the book. I put it all in there, I had to be extraordinarily honest in the book. Being trans is not what's between your legs. Being trans is about what's between your ears. It's who you are. It's about your soul."

On being approached to play Superman after the 1976 Summer Olympics

"I was, right after the games, about three or four months after the games, I got a phone call from my PR firm, Rogers & Cowan at the time, a guy named Dale Olson, says, 'They want you to do a screen test for Superman,' and I thought, 'Oh.' Well after the games I never really thought about acting, I wasn't even in my school play or any of that kinda stuff. But it was an opportunity to grow, and it was really a lot of fun — I got to wear the cape, I was in the ice castle and all this stuff. And you know what? They never said no, they always kinda kept me on the sideline. And I would call Rogers & Cowan and I would say, 'Whatever happened to that Superman thing?' And they said, 'Well, you're still on hold.' And it went for a long, long time, and then eventually they found Christopher Reeve, and he wound up doing it, which was fine. At the time, I thought, 'I don't even know if I wanted to do it, even if they offer it,' just because I just came from the Olympics — which is such a strongman image — to playing Superman, which is a really big strongman image. And I never felt it was really me."

On her mother saying it might have been better to finish second in the Olympic decathlon

"Well, good old mom, love her to death. She has been absolutely great, through my entire transition. Pronouns, that's tough for a parent to go through, extraordinarily difficult for a parent to go through. My mom was actually the last one I told.

"Your mom always, I think, is the toughest one, because obviously you've had a relationship with her from day one. And I didn't ... I didn't want her to be fearful for me, you know like, 'Oh my gosh, what's gonna happen.' Because when I decided to transition, and I had talked to all my kids and this and that, I remember calling up my sister Pam, my older sister, and I said, 'Hey, looks like I'm doing this.' And her first reaction was — because I had told her 30 years earlier — her first reaction was, 'Oh my God, what are my girlfriends gonna say?' And my reaction was, 'Well, I'm really not concerned about your girlfriends, sorry sis, but I gotta do what I gotta do.' And so I really right from the beginning had no idea how this would come out. It coulda gone the other way, it coulda gone people going, 'Oh my God, you freak.' I really didn't know. Fortunately, it was well thought out. We sat down and we came up with a plan on how to pull this off and do it in a way that, one, respects me and my decisions, and two, respects — even more importantly — respects this community, and the struggles this community has. And how can we do that in a way, we can take it out of the gutter, and put it on the front page, and show some respect to these people. Because they deserve it."

This segment aired on April 24, 2017.



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