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Sunday 25 September 2016

Jenner: I'm more female than male

Published 25/04/2015 | 03:56

Bruce Jenner has said his brain is more female than male (Invision/AP)
Bruce Jenner has said his brain is more female than male (Invision/AP)

Former Olympic decathlon champion Bruce Jenner has told American TV viewers: "For all intents and purposes, I am a woman."

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Jenner, 65, spoke in a long-awaited interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer, saying that he has always been confused about his gender identity.

Early in the interview, Jenner took out his ponytail to let his long hair flow behind him.

"My brain is more female than it is male," says Jenner, the 1976 Olympic champion better known in recent years as part of television's omnipresent Kardashian family.

Jenner, who fought back tears, said it was hard for him to talk about his gender issues because he did not want to disappoint people.

But he said he hoped that speaking publicly about the gender issues would do some good in the world and vigorously denied that the interview was a publicity stunt to promote the Kardashian reality TV show.

"If the Kardashian show gave me a foothold to do some good, I'm all for that," Jenner said.

Jenner said he self-identifies as "her", not a specific name. But he told Sawyer he felt comfortable using the pronouns "he" and "him", a designation that is an important issue for many in the transgender community.

As a young boy, Jenner felt an urge to try on his mother's and sister's dresses. "I didn't know why I was doing it," he said. "It just made me feel good."

Jenner said he told his first two wives about the gender confusion and it was a factor in the break-up of his second marriage. During the 1980s, he began taking hormones, had surgery to make his nose smaller and was having hair removed from his face and chest.

Jenner said he has never been sexually attracted to men, and he wanted to make clear to viewers that gender identity and sexuality were separate things.

"I am not gay," he said. "I am, as far as I know, heterosexual. I've always been with a woman, raising kids."

Jenner had said sorry to people in his life hurt by the gender identity issues, he said.

"I've apologised to everybody," he said. "I've apologised my whole life."

Jenner said he had not decided whether he would undergo sexual reassignment surgery.

"These are all things that are out there in the future for me to explore," he said. "There's no rush for that. And I would do it so quietly that nobody in the world would know."

Jenner's four oldest children appeared on the interview special to support their father, but not the two girls he had with Kris Kardashian. He said stepdaughter Kim had been a big supporter, urged on by husband Kanye West, but Khloe was taking it the hardest.

Jenner's first two wives offered messages of support. Kris Kardashian told ABC she had no comment but tweeted after the interview: "Not only was I able to call him my husband for 25 years and father of my children, I am now able to call him my hero."

Jenner told Sawyer that Kris was having a difficult time with the issue and that if she better understood it, the couple would probably still be together.

His 89-year-old mother was also interviewed, saying she was more proud of Bruce than when he stood as an Olympic champion in Montreal.

The Transgender Legal Defence & Education Fund offered a statement of congratulations to Jenner.

"We hope that Jenner inspires others to find the courage to be open about who they are," said Michael Silverman, the fund's executive director. "And we hope that Jenner's message of authenticity and openness will shine a light on the unique challenges that transgender people face and help further equality."

Jenner showed Sawyer a wardrobe filled with dresses and men's clothes. Sawyer said she had a private dinner with Jenner where he wore a dress, but the former Olympian did not appear in one in the ABC special.

Jenner said his two youngest daughters, suspecting that each other was secretly using her clothes, set up a computer to catch the other in the act - only to find out it was their father raiding their closets.

"I would like to think that we can save some lives here," said Jenner, who admitted he once considered suicide at a low point when seen by paparazzi heading to a surgery to have his Adam's apple shaved back.

"I have a feeling this is my cause in life. This is why God put me on this Earth, to deal with this issue."

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