Caitlyn Jenner has opened up on the effect gender dysphoria had on her sporting career – and said transitioning from male to female was a much greater achievement than becoming Olympic champion.
Jenner won the men’s decathlon at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal but is now arguably the most famous transgender woman in the world after announcing her transition in 2015.
And she says much of the training for her greatest sporting achievement “was really running away from the issues I had”.
A former college footballer, Jenner has also been a playgirl cover model, had a short spell as a racing driver after retiring from athletics, and established a career in television – most famously appearing in Keeping Up With The Kardashians and in I Am Cait.
While winning Olympic gold would be the pinnacle for many athletes, Jenner said the 12 years of training were that crowning glory were nothing compared to a lifetime spent preparing to transition.
“I trained 12 years for the games,” said 70-year-old Jenner on the latest episode of the Don’t Tell Me the Score podcast. “I trained 65 years to transition in 2015. It was harder to do – it was less accepted.
“Everyone loved the games. A lot of people when they see you transition hate your guts. Look at the quotes on Instagram. By far that was a lot more difficult.
“I have the great double – Olympic decathlon champion and Glamour’s Woman of the Year.”
Talking about the impact that struggling with dyslexia and gender dysphoria had on her sporting career, Jenner said: “Being gender dysphoric and dyslexic – that’s what made me down the line. When I got into sports, it became more important for me to succeed at sports and work hard at sports because of all these issues.”
She recalled the aftermath of winning her gold medal, and how she feared the impact for her personal life, saying: “A lot of the training was really running away from the issues I had.
“I remember getting up the next morning, didn’t have a stitch of clothes on, walking to the bathroom, medal sitting there on the table, put the medal around my neck, looking in the mirror and I go: what have you just done? Am I stuck with this person the rest of my life? Did you build up this person so big, that you’re stuck with him the rest of your life? It was scary.”
Since transitioning, Jenner has received criticism from the trans community for her activism.
“Has it been easy? Not even close,” she said. “I’ve raised about 2.6 million dollars, given it away to trans organisations. A lot of them are extraordinarily appreciative of it. On the other hand they’re having their big fundraiser and say ‘oh please don’t show up you’re too controversial’.”
Jenner also shared her views on the IOC’s approach to trans athletes competing in the 2020 Olympic Games, saying: “I think the most important thing, is people that are different, people that are dealing with trans issues… I think they deserve an opportunity to play sports.
“Sports was very, very good to me. We should not deny them of that opportunity. But also we should look at it closely and almost deal with it on an individual basis. But the Olympic Committee is doing a good job.”
Jenner said her transition was not the reason for her divorce from ex-wife Kris Jenner.
“Kris and I went our separate directions,” she said. “It wasn’t for me to transition or anything to do with that.”We changed apart. There was no argument, no nothing, we did our divorce agreement in one day. We both knew it was the right thing to do. I leased a house in Malibu to get out, and yeah we’re on good terms today.”
On the podcast, Jenner also discussed with host Simon Mundie the fact the Kardashian family knew about her gender dysphoria and cross dressing, and the impact it may have had on their children.“I actually got caught by Kim (Kardashian) once,” she said. “With Kendall and Kylie (Jenner) I didn’t know I got caught but they said they snuck around a corner or something, and I was cross-dressed or whatever, which is not good to do with kids.
“But they all knew. They know but no one is going to talk about it. It’s the big secret.”
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