Former Bruce Jenner was introduced to the world as Caitlyn Jenner on Vanity Fair’s July cover, which apparently took three months to make. Click here if you missed it!
Contributing editor Buzz Bissinger shadowed the Olympic gold medalist for hundreds of hours during the final stages of her emotionally arduous, sometimes physically painful transition from male to female. During one of Jenner and Bissinger’s final meetings, following Annie Leibovitz’s portrait shoot, the reality-star-turned-role-model spoke candidly about how she hopes her personal journey will help readers of all demographics better understand being transgender.
Read excerpts of the extended conversation between Caitlyn Jenner and Buzz Bissinger which includes new details that weren’t included in Vanity Fair’s July cover story!
How Jenner will celebrate once the Vanity Fair feature hits newsstands.
Buzz Bissinger: What’s the first thing you’re going to do?
Caitlyn Jenner: I’m just going to go live life, I’m going to go enjoy life. I have nothing left to hide. I am kind of a free person, a free soul. [Up] to this point I would wear, you know, Bruce would wear, you know, sweatshirts with hoods on them so paparazzi can’t get pictures and all that kind of crap, and I didn’t want them to see if my fingernails were polished or, you know, on and on and on. It was just hell.
Bissinger: It’s like you’re being liberated now. It must feel great.
Jenner: To be able to wake up in the morning, be yourself, get dressed, get ready to go out, and just be like a normal person. That’s a wonderful feeling to go through life. I’ve never been able to do that; it’s always been confusion, it’s always been, you know, I’ve got one side [with] boy clothes, the other side’s women’s clothes. It’s like I cleaned the whole closet out—the boys stuff is gone, O.K.?
On the Vanity Fair feature meaning more to her in some ways than her Olympic gold medal.
Bissinger: You said something after the shoot that was incredibly poignant, I thought. You had the gold medal on top of the table, the gold medal you won for the Olympics, and you said that was a good day, but the past few days of this shoot have been better.
Jenner: They were.
Bissinger: Why? What did you mean by that? I mean, you were talking about a gold medal, something that everybody covets and wants, and yet these past few days have been better. Why is that?
Jenner: That was a sporting event; the last few days is about life, O.K., about living your life. About being true to yourself. I was probably at the games because I was running away from a lot of things, O.K., very, very proud of the accomplishment, I don’t want to diminish that accomplishment, but the last few days in doing this shoot was about my life and who I am as a person. It’s not about the fanfare, it’s not about people cheering in the stadium, it’s not about going down the street and everybody giving you “that a boy, Bruce,” pat on the back, O.K. This is about your life and about who you are. And the last few days have been absolutely amazing, you know, I never thought, you know, that some day I’d be able to do this.
Why people already prefer “Caitlyn” to “ Bruce.”
Jenner: Even my son, actually, Burt said that to me one time. He goes, “To be honest with you, I think Caitlyn is a lot better person than Bruce.” And I really have to—I think he’s right, because Bruce always had to tell a lie, he was always living that lie, every day, he always had a secret from morning till night. Caitlyn doesn’t have any secrets
What she hopes her mother will think of “Caitlyn.”
Jenner: My mom is, for 89 years old, is extraordinarily open-minded. I’d wonder how her reaction will be, but like most people, it’s all, all the emotions are in the anticipation of meeting you. Once they meet you and they spend five minutes with you, they go, Oh, O.K., I get it, big deal, let’s go on with life. And I think my mom will kind of be the same way, especially if Caitlyn keeps sending planes to pick her up and bring her down.
We had a conversation the other day, we were talking about a lot of things, and, you know, she goes, “You know what, I think I can have a better relationship with Caitlyn than I can with Bruce,” because we’ve always had a little tension in our relationship throughout the years. [. . .] And so when she ends the conversation, she goes, “O.K., good-bye, Caitlyn.” It was very funny, very cute.
What kind of feedback she received after last month’s Diane Sawyer special.
Jenner: The reaction was absolutely amazing. Even Mark, who is the producer on Diane’s piece, says, “Well, I had breakfast with Reese Witherspoon this morning and she couldn’t stop talking about you. All she wants to do is meet you.” She never wanted to meet Bruce, you know, but Caitlyn it is. It’s just that’s the way people are, and I understand that.
Honestly, since the Diane Sawyer piece, every day it’s like, it’s exciting to go to the mailbox . . . Because I get letters every day from all of these people from all over the world. I’ve gotten a lot from trans women, and telling their story and telling how excited they were to see the Diane piece. And so for non-trans people, just regular people who watched the games and now they see this, they’re just so proud of you.
But I so appreciate those things. I mean, I read every one of them, a lot of them I answer; in fact, the other night I got a letter from a trans woman in New York and she had so many interesting things to say, but at the end she left her telephone number, so I called her.
How she hopes older generations will react to the piece.
Jenner: I hope they’re happy for me, O.K.? I hope that they all understand that life is very complicated. That [the gold medalist they remember] was me in 1976, I did that and I am extraordinarily proud of what I was able to accomplish. I make no excuses for it, but that was all of me that did that, it wasn’t just Bruce, it was all the things that—I was a dyslexic kid, I was suffering from gender dysphoria, I had all these other issues in life, but when I latched onto this thing called sports, I probably latched onto it harder than most kids did. Why? Because I needed that. Never knowing where I was going, but after years and years of playing the game and trying to prove my manhood, you know, next thing I knew I wasn’t trying to make my high-school team anymore, I was trying to be the best in the world at something. And this was my chance to go out there to the world and do something significant. And it became real important to me, and I put so much time and energy and work into this thing, and it was part of me. But it was all part of me: it was the dyslexic kid out there, it was the transgendered kid out there, it was Bruce out there, all these things, all the emotions were all—that’s what made me work so hard, that’s why I was more determined than anybody else. I went out there and did it. And I am extraordinarily proud of that. It wasn’t all of me, but for that moment, I can say I was the best in the world at that.
On seeing “Caitlyn” all glammed up for the shoot.
Jenner: [During the shoot] I had this one time where I had not had a mirror behind me and they put this mirror up behind when I was doing this shoot. I had this rocking black outfit on, formal outfit, and I kind of, from a distance, looked in the mirror and I felt, Oh, my God. That’s the first time I’d ever really seen an image of me, of who I am. I mean over-the-top better than I thought it would ever be, especially at my age. You know, you think it’s kind of over with at that age. And seeing that image was powerful to me, you know, powerful. And I kind of looked at it and said, You know what, this is going to work, we’re going to be O.K. with this, you know. So yeah, we move forward. I am so excited about the future.
Source: Vanity Fair