Updated throughout: “For all intents and purposes, I am a woman,” Bruce Jenner told ABC News’s Diane Sawyer during tonight’s much anticipated interview, saying he used to dress up in his sister’s dresses and his mother’s scarves to hide his short hair as a child.
“I didn’t know why I was doing it,” he said. “It just made me feel good,” said the man Sawyer described as having “once embodied the muscle and glory of America at the Olympics.”
“I would say I have always been very confused with my gender identity, since I was this big,” he said, holding his hand about three feet from the ground.
“People look at a me differently. They see you as this macho male, but my heart and my soul, and everything I do in live – it is part of me, that female side is part of me. That’s who I am,” Jenner said.
Welcoming Sawyer to his Malibu home, Jenner, 65, teared up as he told her, “I’ve been thinking about this day forever. What I should do with my life, how do I tell my story; how do I tell people what I’ve been through. And that day is today.”The interview was taped in advance, in Malibu and New York, and before Jenner was involved in a fatal car crash on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu in February. Sawyer said Jenner could not comment on the accident because it is still under investigation, except to say he is “devastated” by what happened.
“One thing so important in this process that we have to keep our sense of humor,” Jenner told the ABC News veteran at the outside of the two-hour broadcast. “It’s pretty funny that me, of all people, Bruce Jenner has to deal with all these issues,” he said.
Jenner said he explained to his children “God’s looking down, making Little Bruce and he says ‘What are we going to do with this one?’ He gave me all these wonderful qualities, and said, ‘Wait. Everyone has stuff in their life they have to deal with’… and chuckles and says ‘Let’s give him the soul of a woman.’
“So here I am, stuck…Bruce, always telling a lie,” Jenner continued. “He’s lived the lie his whole life about who he is, and I can’t do that any longer.”
Jenner said he self-identifies as “her,” but also as “Bruce,” and referred to himself using male pronouns – a lead ABC News chose to follow for most of the two-hour broadcast. Sawyer asked him if he would change his first name but he declined to discuss, though he joked his new name will not start with a “K”. Presumably he’s saving that chapter for his E! reality series which that network finally confirmed during the ABC Interview; the un-named series is scheduled to air this summer, as had been widely speculated.
He has never been sexually attracted to men, said Jenner, explaining gender identity and sexuality are separate things.
“I am not gay,” Jenner said. “I am, as far as I know, heterosexual. I’ve always been with a woman, raising kids.”
He said he is excited “about what I could do to be able to do some real good in the world” by speaking publicly about his struggle, and seemed put out with Sawyer when she asked him to address suggestions the interview was some sort of publicity stunt to promote Keeping Up With The Kardashians.”
Later in the interview, Sawyer observed, “At first Jenner’s fame helped launch the show. But the more The Kardashians ascended, the more it seemed Bruce Jenner gave up, just drifted away.”
“Are you sorry” you did the show, Sawyer asked. “All this time you had –”
“I had the story!” Jenner interrupted (see video above). “We’d done 425 episodes over almost eight years now and the entire run I kept thinking to myself, ‘Oh my God, this whole thing, the one real true story in the family, was the one I was hiding and nobody knew about. The one thing that could really make a difference in people lives was right here in my soul, and I couldn’t tell that story.”
Not coincidentally, during ABC’s two hour interview, E! unveiled details of its Jenner reality series: The program will “tell Bruce’s intimate story and will join him as he seeks out his ‘new normal’,” and how his transition affects “the people in his life” over eight, one-hour episodes, debuting Sunday, July 26.
In the course of the interview, Jenner revealed he had told all three of his wives his gender conflict while married to them. Sawyer told viewers they reached out to Jenner’s three wives seeking comment. Kris Jenner, she said, had no comment. The other two said in statements they hope people are ready to show him kindness, and that they support him and hope the world can too.
“I loved Kris,” Jenner confided. ” I had a wonderful life with her. I learned a lot from her. That’s what you like in a relationship, to learn from the person you’re with. I thought we had a pretty good sex life,” he continued, adding, “Later on, as I heard, maybe we didn’t. But I thought it was pretty good.”