Caitlyn Jenner's journey from 'world's best athlete' to a fighting transwoman has been one of painful lessons
On the occasion of the five-year anniversary of her transformation from a former Olympic male athlete to a transwoman, Caitlyn Jenner, opened up about her life that she spent battling gender dysphoria and said that she has come a long way and did not regret her transformation.
Five years ago, on this day, a transformed Caitlyn at the age of 65 appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair to declare 'Call Me Caitlyn' — which will forever be etched as one of the defining moments of LGBTQ history. She then sat down with legendary interviewer Diane Sawyer and starred in her short-lived reality TV show, 'I Am Cait.' Looking back at her life, Caitlyn told People Magazine that she felt like she was always over-compensating in her life due to her struggle with her birth gender. As Bruce Jenner — her former male identity — she earned a gold medal at the men's decathlon event at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal and was subsequently branded as "an all-American hero". Bruce also earned the unofficial title of "world's greatest athlete," and appeared as a Playgirl cover model.
After appearing on the hit reality show, 'Keeping Up With The Kardashians' which has had 18 seasons so far — making it one of the most-watched and longest-running shows in the history of television — alongside her former wife and 10 children, Caitlyn became a household name. But nothing satisfied her till she realized that she was in the wrong body and the wrong gender identity. In 2014, she divorced her third wife, Kris Jenner.
Caitlyn said that although she was engulfed in a storm of paparazzi every day since her divorce, she truly felt seen when she looked at her driver’s license photo in July of 2015. “It was so emotional,” Jenner, now 70, said. “There I was. Caitlyn Marie Jenner. But then, I wondered, did Bruce deserve to be thrown away like this? He did a lot of good things. He raised 10 kids. But I wasn’t turning around. Bruce did just about everything he can do. He raised 10 kids. Now what does Caitlyn do?”
As she slowly began to embrace her change, she realized the responsibility her identity carried with it and that she could become an icon for bringing awareness about the plight of her community. “I thought, what a great opportunity to change the world’s thinking; 51 percent of trans people attempt suicide. The murder rate — we’ve been losing one trans woman of color every two weeks,” she said. There was, however, a major obstacle. She had been a lifelong Republican and because of her political views was at a direct clash with a majority of LGBTQ members.
Reality set in when a majority of charities she had donated to stopped inviting her. “They said I’m ‘too controversial’. And that hurt,” she says. “I think I had been wearing rose-colored glasses. I thought I could change the world. Now I know I can only try and change one person at a time.” And today she is doing just that. “I’ve changed my thinking in a lot of ways. I love my community. I truly want to help. This is my journey. Yes, it is different than other trans people. I get it,” she said. “But the bottom line is this: When I wake up in the morning, I’m happy with myself.”
Jeff Olde, who co-created Jenner’s show 'I Am Cait' defended Caitlyn even though she has had a fair number of bumps on the road along the way. “But what I respect about her today is that she’s willing to learn,” he said. “And learning can be painful.”