“For all intents and purposes I am a woman,” Jenner told Sawyer during the interview that aired on ABC’s “20/20”. “People look at me differently. They see you as this ‘macho male,’ but my heart and my soul and everything I do in my life it is part of me. That female side of me is part of me. That’s who I am.”
Jenner — who continues to use male pronouns to refer to himself — told Sawyer that he wore his mother’s dress when he was a young child.
The former Olympian and reality television star took estrogen, a female hormone, for nearly five years in the 1980s. Jenner also underwent plastic surgery and electrolysis to remove face and chest hair.
Jenner told Sawyer that he is not gay, noting sexual orientation and gender identity are “apples and oranges.”
“I’m as far as I know heterosexual,” said Jenner. “I’ve never been with a guy. I’ve always been married, raising kids.”
Jenner during the interview noted the trans women of color who took part in the 1969 Stonewall riots that marked the beginning of the modern LGBT rights movement. The former Olympian also acknowledged to Sawyer that he is a Republican.
Four of Jenner’s biological children appeared in the “20/20” interview to support their father. The former Olympian’s mother, Esther Jenner, also applauded her son.
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.
— Kris Jenner (@KrisJenner) April 25, 2015
E! has announced that Jenner will appear in an eight-part series on the entertainment network to document his transition.
Kim Kardashian, the former Olympian’s stepdaughter, applauded Jenner during an interview with Matt Lauer that NBC’s “Today” show aired on Monday.
“I’m really happy for him that he’s living the life that he wants to live it,” said Kardashian. “I support him 100 percent.”
Jenner told Sawyer that Kardashian once caught him wearing a dress. The former Olympian said that his stepdaughter’s husband, Kanye West, helped her accept his sexual identity.
Kylie Jenner, who is one of Jenner’s six biological children, also took to Twitter to applaud her father.
..this isn't about me. I'm so proud of you, Dad. You are so brave. My beautiful Hero.
— Kylie Jenner (@KylieJenner) April 25, 2015
LGBT rights advocates were quick to echo this praise.
“Today, millions of people learned that someone they know is transgender,” GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis. “By sharing this story, Bruce Jenner has shined a light on what it means to be transgender and live authentically in the face of unimaginable public scrutiny. Though Jenner’s journey is one that is deeply personal, it is also one that will impact and inspire countless people around the world.”
Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, described Jenner’s interview with Sawyer as “one of the most profound displays of bravery and courage” that she has seen.
“The ABC News 20/20 team should also be applauded for their touching profile of Jenner,” added Keisling. “This is what responsible reporting on transgender lives looks like — thorough while kind, deep yet patient.”
Ellen DeGeneres on her Twitter page described Jenner as a “beautiful, brave human being.”
Bruce Jenner is a beautiful, brave human being. Sending him lots of love. He's saving lives and opening minds tonight.
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) April 25, 2015
Sawyer’s interview with Jenner aired as trans-specific issues continue become more visible in the U.S. and around the world.
Sixteen states, D.C. and Puerto Rico now include gender identity in their anti-discrimination laws. Trans people are also included in the federal hate crimes law and those of 15 states and the nation’s capital.
Outgoing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder late last year announced that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bans discrimination based on gender identity.
Trans people remain disproportionately affected by discrimination in housing, employment and other factors that increase poverty rates among these groups. Lamia Beard of Norfolk, Va., and Kandy Hall and Kia Henderson of Baltimore are among the more than a dozen trans women of color who have been reported killed in the U.S. over the last year.