Sunday 17 December 2017

TV and sport star Jenner tells of sex-change plans

Father-of-six Bruce Jenner talking on ABC
Father-of-six Bruce Jenner talking on ABC

Simeon McHugh

Bruce Jenner, the former Olympic decathlon champion and one-time darling of American sport, has spoken publicly of his decision to undergo a sex-change operation.

The father of six, who won gold at the Montreal Olympics in 1976, revealed in a TV interview that he had struggled with his gender identity since he was a child and that he had "lived a lie his whole life".

He told ABC's Diane Sawyer: "I have always been very confused with my gender identity since I was this big," lowering his hand to a foot or two above the ground. He said he had been born with a male body but a "female soul".

A generation of younger fans know Jenner as the father figure of the Kardashian family. His third wife, Kris, is the mother of celebrity Kim Kardashian and the couple starred in the reality show Keeping Up With the Kardashians - Kris as the domineering "momager" and head of the household, and Jenner the dutiful husband.

"We've done 445 episodes and during the entire run I kept thinking to myself, the one real true story was the one I was hiding," he said.

In the interview, which ended months of speculation that he was planning to become a woman, Jenner said "for all intents and purposes" he is female, becoming the most high-profile American to come out as transgender.

He said that at the age of eight he had started dressing up in his mother and sister's clothes. "At that time I didn't know why I was just doing it, just that it felt good," he said.

Shown a photograph of himself after his Olympic win, he described it as a time he was "running away" from who he was. "I was scared to death, big-time fear. I didn't know what my future held," he said.

He said that for years he had been too afraid to talk publicly about the issue as he "did not want to disappoint anyone".

The first person he told was first wife Chrystie Crownover, saying he liked to cross-dress without discussing the extent of his gender confusion. It was not until 1984 that he admitted to his second wife, Linda Thompson, that he thought of himself as a woman.

He took the female hormone oestrogen in the late Eighties for five years, at the same time having electrolysis to remove his facial hair. He would later confide in his sister, who kept his secret for 30 years.

Jenner also disclosed he had, over the past few years, gone out in public dressed as a woman, and no one noticed.

He said he had contemplated suicide, but decided against it, "wanting to know how the story ends". He told his last wife, Kris, in the early days of their relationship, that he was taking hormone pills and said she often saw him dressing as a woman, but she shrugged it off.

The couple, who had two daughters together, Kylie and Kendall, split in 2013 after nearly 25 years of marriage, with her citing irreconcilable differences. Telling his children was the most difficult part. Stepdaughter Khloe, he said, was taking it the hardest, while Kim was "by far the most accepting".

© Telegraph

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