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Caitlyn Jenner opens up about her gender dysphoria for the first time in powerful interview: ‘I was dealing with issues I had when I was nine’

Vic Parsons June 26, 2020
Caitlyn Jenner: Being transgender is what made me an Olympic champion

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 28: Caitlyn Jenner attends the National Television Awards 2020 at The O2 Arena on January 28, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)

Olympic champion Caitlyn Jenner has spoken out about her life-long struggles with gender dysphoria and dyslexia.

In a Pride month interview with Women’s Health magazine, the 70-year-old opened up about how she’s struggled with her gender identity since she was nine, meeting transgender tennis player Renee Richards in 1977, and how she’s grateful to have had so many “wonderful women” in her life.

The I Am Cait star, who came out as a transgender woman in 2015, credited her “gender issues” with her drive to succeed in athletics – she played college football and went on to win the Olympic gold medal in the decathlon at the 1976 summer games in Montreal.

“During my Olympic training, I was so far away from Caitlyn,” she said.

But she also said that an intense training regime meant she was able to “ignore” the feelings she was having, which she now recognises were untreated gender dysphoria.

“I honestly just ignored my gender issues the best I could. But it was always present.

“I didn’t understand it, and I didn’t know what was going on with me. But it was also my dyslexia and gender issues that made me an Olympic champion. I channeled my struggles to drive and push me. Now, I see those issues as my gift.”

Coming out as Caitlyn made older people less transphobic, study finds.

Some older, more conservative people become less transphobic after Caitlyn Jenner publicly came out as trans in 2015, a 2020 study suggested.

These same older people were also more likely to support advances in trans rights after Jenner revealed that she was trans.

The study authors suggested that this was likely due to the fact that more people in this generation would have been familiar with Jenner during her athletic career.

Looking back on her life for Women’s Health, Jenner said she had “no regrets” about spending most of her life working and raising children – she has four biological children and four step children.

“When I was young, I felt I couldn’t do anything about my gender dysphoria,” she said. “Back then, I could never have envisioned a future for myself as happy as I am now.”

Jenner continued: “It wasn’t until I was 63 years old looking back and realising I was dealing with the same issues I had when I was nine that I wondered, ‘What am I going to do with my life?’

“I finally got the guts to tell my story. It wasn’t an easy decision, and it took a long time.”

“No matter your situation,” she said, “there’s no right or wrong way to come out.”

Caitlyn Jenner speaks at the 4th annual Women's March LA
Caitlyn Jenner speaks at the 4th annual Women’s March LA (Chelsea Guglielmino/Getty Images)

Caitlyn Jenner on trans athletes at the Olympics.

In the interview, Caitlyn Jenner also revealed her thoughts on trans athletes competing at sports highest level – it was her Olympic gold, hot on the heels of three world records, that propelled her to international fame.

“While there’s a lot of progress that needs to be made, I think the Olympics committee is way ahead of the rest of the sports world when it comes to trans athletes because they’ve been grappling with hormone use issues in athlete for a long time that have forced them to develop clear policies for athletes,” she said.

“Years after the 1976 Games, when I was competing, it was revealed that East Germany was illegally administering male hormones to female athletes as part of their training.

“Incidents like this have contributed to the need for hormonal testing among Olympic athletes, and the continual reevaluation of how hormone levels can affect fair competition.

“The Olympics committee has also had to create policies around athletes using hormones for non-doping purposes, too.

“After a long battle with the IOC, American sailor Kevin Hall, who had to take regular testosterone shots after being diagnosed with testicular cancer, was cleared to compete in the 2004 Athens Olympics with a ‘therapeutic use exemption’ despite testosterone being a banned substance.

“Over the last 15 to 20 years, the IOC has done a lot of research on these issues. I think they’ve done just about as good of a job as you can do.”

Caitlyn Jenner has changed her mind on Trump.

Jenner used to be a Republican and a Trump supporter – going into the 2016 US election, she was a rare LGBT+ supporter of Trump’s, and continued to defend her decision to vote for him despite criticism from trans activists.

But in October 2018 the Olympic champion performed a sharp volte-face, admitting: “Sadly, I was wrong.”

“The reality is that the trans community is being relentlessly attacked by this president,” she wrote in a Washington Post op-ed.

“My hope in him — in them — was misplaced, and I cannot support anyone who is working against our community.”

Speaking at this year’s Women’s March in Los Angeles, Jenner called on trans and cisgender women to work together against Trump.

“Together as women, trans women and cis women, we have the power to influence our communities, our families, our friends and colleagues, and turn this country around!” she said.

More: caitlyn jenner, Donald Trump, Kevin Hall, renee richards, Republican, trans athletes, women's march

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