(NOTE: This post contains spoilers from the book. Proceed cautiously if you plan on reading it yourself.)
It’s hard to conceptualize now, but Caitlyn Jenner was once Bruce Jenner, the celebrated Olympic icon and epitomized image of the male athlete. It’s easy to forget —amid all of the tabloid craziness surrounding Jenner’s transition from male-to-female in 2015 — that her former identity, Bruce, was on the cover of a Wheaties box and was considered the perfect male specimen in the mid-1970s.
The pressure and mental anguish suffered by Jenner is easily overshadowed by society’s slowly changing perceptions about transgenderism and transition, which to a lot of people still seems like an act contrary to nature. In her memoir, The Secrets of My Life, Jenner candidly addresses the pain she endured (and still continues to deal with), as well as numerous other life obstacles she had to surmount while she struggled to come to terms with herself.
Jenner has been married three times, has 10 children and stepchildren and transitioned much later in life, not to mention she was the former patriarch of reality TV family the Kardashians, so she had to keep her true identity secret in front of the entire world. Many argue that Jenner is not representative of the transgender experience because of her vast wealth and fame, but she counters in her memoir that while it was helpful to have resources and money to afford various procedures, her fame was a definite detriment when it came to transitioning. Try hiding when you reside in the same city as TMZ’s head office.
WATCH BELOW: Caitlyn Jenner’s memoir starts family feud
Jenner herself claims that the media is responsible for making her the figurehead of transgender people, and says she did nothing to encourage that on her own.
Here are some of the most interesting things we learned reading Jenner’s book.
Despite what Jenner’s third and final wife, Kris, says on reality show Keeping Up With the Kardashians, in the book Jenner is overly sympathetic and appreciative of Kris and everything they went through together. Jenner claims on multiple occasions that, as Bruce, she told Kris about her gender dysphoria and difficulty with gender identity. Jenner says Bruce told Kris before they ever had sex. This differs notably from Kris’ point of view.
“Everything [Caitlyn] says is all made up,” said Kris exasperatingly to Kim and Khloe on KUTWK in late April, after reading Jenner’s memoir. “Why does it have to be that Kris is such a b—h and an a–hole? And all through the book: ‘Kris knew. Kris knew before I even made love to her.’ I’m like, what? I’ve done nothing but open my home and my heart to a person who doesn’t give a s–t.”
“I just can’t sit back and be an enabler anymore. I’ve never been so angry and disappointed with somebody in my whole life. I’m done,” she concluded.
Jenner’s previous ex-wives, Chrystie Jenner and Linda Thompson, are also spoken of fondly in the book. Jenner writes that she never could have made the transition without any of the women of her past, especially Kris, to whom she was married for 22 years.
It is a little-known fact that Caitlyn Jenner is actually half-Canadian. Her father, Bill (full name William Hugh Jenner), was born in St. John’s, Nfld. in 1923 before moving to the United States as a child.
It was here that Bruce’s sports life officially came to an end. He had accomplished his most lofty goal — winning a gold medal and setting a new world record in the Olympic decathlon — and was now face-to-face with his gender dysphoria. No longer could he escape into sports and overwork himself to the point of distraction. In the mirror, he saw his own naked body and realized: this isn’t me.
“I don’t wonder about [fame and fortune] when I look in the mirror with that medal around my neck,” Jenner writes. “All of that is yet to come. I only know that I am naked and about to become an American hero.”
Because of the fame and because of her increased visibility, Jenner had to resort to clandestine trips to hotels in order to dress as a woman comfortably. She would drive across town to a hotel, rent a room, go up to the room and get changed into full garb, then proceed down to the lobby… just to walk through it. There would be no talking to strangers, or even a glance, for fear she would be discovered.
These little jaunts provided Jenner with a release, and allowed her to see what life could be like if she transitioned. For the most part, she writes, she thinks she got away with it. A few close calls (like when a passerby asked, “Hey, aren’t you Bruce Jenner?”) eventually drove her to be overly careful on the excursions.
While initially, at least in public, Jenner’s six children were supportive of her transition, she writes in her book that nearly all of the relationships with her kids have been damaged by her transition. She has two daughters and four stepchildren with Kris: the uber-famous Kendall and Kylie Jenner, and Kris’ kids with her late husband Robert Kardashian — Kim, Khloe, Kourtney and Rob. (Ever heard of them?) She also has four children from her two previous marriages: Brody, Casey (now Marino), Brandon and Burt Jenner.
Of all the kids, Jenner writes, Kim and Kourtney were totally supportive of her plans to transition, as were then-teenage Kendall and Kylie. His previous children, well into their 30s, also have no problem. Khloe, writes Jenner, “has the hardest time with it. She is upset because I never specifically told her I was going to transition.”
Jenner doesn’t deny that fact, but she says she didn’t know when Khloe was younger if transition was even possible. According to news reports, Khloe and Jenner haven’t spoken in two years.
“I have a ton of opinions and feelings about Cait, but before Caitlyn there was Bruce, and Bruce was in my life for, like, 24 years,” Khloe said on KUWTK in early April.
It’s clear that Jenner has a rocky road ahead when it comes to her children.
“I am still trying to sort out my relationship with all my children. I thought transition would draw us closer. Initially it did. But over the past several months there has been a void, a distance, with many of them,” she writes. “In public their support for me has been stirring. But perhaps there is private embarrassment. Perhaps it is weird to call me ‘Dad’ when I don’t look like Dad.”
You’d think, for someone with six biological children, that sex would be an important part of her life. But, Jenner writes, it has never been a big priority for her, even as a man. (She only writes about it because first as a sports star and then as a Hollywood star, she feels high sexual appetites were expected of her.) She admits that, as Bruce and Caitlyn combined, she’s only had sex with five women — and she married three of them.
“I don’t have the appetite for it, which is why the public’s obsession over my sex life now is annoying to me,” she writes. “It hearkens back to this endless misperception that men and women transition because of their sexual preference and desires. Who the hell cares? Why must labels be attached to everything? My preference has not changed now that I have transitioned.”
Jenner reveals that she had “bottom” surgery early this year. She mentions it on the last page in the very last paragraph of her book and says she will never speak about the topic again, in public or in writing.
“I had The Final Surgery in January 2017,” she writes. “The surgery was a success, and I feel not only wonderful but liberated. I am telling you because I believe in candor. So all of you can stop staring. You want to know, so now you know.”Follow @CJancelewicz
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