The 65-year-old Bruce Jenner made the declaration in a wide-ranging interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer, nearly 40 years after his record-breaking Olympic gold-medal win in the decathlon that gave him the unofficial title of “World’s Greatest Athlete.”
At the outset of the taped interview, Sawyer asked “Are you a woman?” and Jenner responded, “Yes, for all intents and purposes I am a woman.”
“People look at me differently,” Jenner added. “They can see you as this macho male, but my heart and my soul, and everything that I do in life, it is part of me, that female side is part of me. That’s who I am.”
Known to younger generations as the patriarch of reality TV’s Kardashian clan, Jenner went on ABC’s “20/20″ to put to rest months of speculation that he was transitioning to life as a woman.
Jenner’s announcement coincides with a growing visibility of transgender people in American society. Hollywood has played a part, introducing transgender storylines and actors like Laverne Cox from television show “Orange Is the New Black,” who appeared on the cover of Time magazine last year for a story about “America’s next civil rights frontier.”
An emotional Jenner, sporting long hair and a shirt and trousers, said he had waited so many years to come out because he did not “want to disappoint people.”
Although Jenner did not address pronoun preference, Sawyer said that for this interview, Jenner asked that the public use “the familiar ‘him’ or ‘he’.”
Three times married and divorced and parent to six biological children and four stepchildren, Jenner said he is not gay and has never had sex with a man.
“I feel like I am getting an upgraded version of my dad,” said son Brandon Jenner.
Stepdaughter Kim Kardashian, perhaps one of the most famous of American reality TV stars, has been “by far the most accepting and the easiest to talk to,” Jenner said. Her husband, rapper Kanye West, had been instrumental in helping her accept Jenner’s transition, he added.
Jenner says, “It is going to be an emotional rollercoaster, but somehow I am going to get through it” and, referring to his family, “I can’t let myself hurt them.”
Watch the interview