“I’m so happy after such a long struggle to be living my true self.”
Caitlyn Jenner, formerly Bruce Jenner, is an Olympic gold medalist and internationally known transgender activist. Forty years after Jenner’s Olympic victory, they became the first transgender person to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
Jenner grew up in Connecticut and struggled with dyslexia, but showed an aptitude for sports and earned a football scholarship to Graceland University in Iowa. Sidelined after a knee injury, Jenner turned to track and field.
Jenner trained tirelessly in the sport and competed in Olympic trials. They competed in 13 decathlons between 1973 and 1976, winning all but one. At the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, Jenner set a world record. The Associated Press named Jenner Male Athlete of the Year, and earned the unofficial title “world’s greatest athlete,” bestowed upon Olympic decathletes. Among many honors, Jenner was inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame and the Olympic Hall of Fame.
Jenner’s Olympic win and good looks made them an ideal spokesman for consumer brands such as Wheaties cereal, also appearing on TV and in films.
Jenner married third wife, Kris Kardashian, in 1991. In 2007, with Kris and their family, they became reality TV stars. In 2015 Jenner came out as a transgender woman and had several cosmetic procedures before undergoing gender correction surgery in 2017.
As Caitlyn, Jenner became an unlikely activist. She uses social media and her fame to bring attention to issues facing transgender people. She partnered with MAC Cosmetics on a line of lipstick, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the MAC AIDS Fund’s Transgender Initiative.
In 2015 a portrait of Caitlyn, photographed by the renowned Annie Leibovitz, appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair. The same year, Caitlyn was named among Glamour magazine’s 25 Glamour Women of the Year, Entertainment Weekly’s Entertainers of the Year and TIME magazine’s Persons of the Year. She received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award and Barbara Walters named her one of the year’s Most Fascinating People. Jenner was featured in an eight-part documentary series, “I Am Cait,” focusing on her transition.
In 2017 Caitlyn published her memoir, “The Secrets of My Life.” Jenner fathered seven children. She has four stepchildren.
LGBT History Month articles are a Project of Equality Forum and are presented with permission.