NEW YORK — Bruce Jenner, a man who has spent his entire adult life in the public spotlight, has secretly spent his entire life as a woman.
Now the secret is out.
“Yes, for all intents and purposes, I’m a woman,” Jenner told Diane Sawyer in an interview televised on ABC on Friday night.
Jenner said he has the “soul of a female.” He told Sawyer “my brain is much more female than it is male” even though he has all the “male parts.” When he closes his eyes and dreams, he is a woman.
Jenner’s in-depth discussion of being transgender was immediately heralded as a historic moment for societal understanding of gender identity and gender expression.
Advocates for the transgender community — some of whom had prepared weeks ahead of time for Friday’s special — thanked Jenner for raising awareness.
“Today, millions of people learned that someone they know is transgender,” GLAAD CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement.
She said Jenner’s story “will impact and inspire countless people around the world.”
On social networking sites, viewers called the ABC program riveting, if not necessarily surprising, and called Jenner brave.
Speculation about Jenner in the entertainment media had made Friday’s comments widely expected.
Speaking of himself in the third person, the 65-year-old Jenner told Sawyer: “Bruce Jenner has always been confused with my gender identity.”
“I’m me. … I’m a person. I’m not stuck in anybody’s body.”
Jenner then loosened his hair, pulling it out of a pony tail.
As far as sexuality is concerned, Jenner told Sawyer that he’s not gay.
“I’ve never been with a guy,” Jenner said. “There’s two different things here. Sexuality is who you are personally attracted to. …. But gender identity is who you are in your soul.”
The interview addressed Jenner’s role on the massively popular E! reality show, “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.”
Jenner said that the real story on the show was within him.
“I had the story,” Jenner said. “We’ve done 420 episodes, I think, and the entire run I kept thinking to myself … the one real true story in the family was the one I was hiding.”
“The one thing that could really make a difference in people’s lives was in my soul, and I couldn’t say anything,” Jenner continued.
Sawyer added that she reached out to each of Jenner’s wives, and that his third wife, Kris — their divorce became final last year — had no comment.
ABC had revealed little about the contents of the interview ahead of its 9 pm ET air time. The special was called “Bruce Jenner: The Interview” — a title that gave nothing away. In short preview clips, Jenner has said things like “My whole life has been getting me ready for this.”
The interview sessions with Jenner were taped in February. Within ABC, they were tightly guarded: For example, the small group of staffers who worked on the special were not allowed to take scripts home for the evening.