Caitlyn Marie Jenner was born on October 28, 1949, in Mount Kisco, New York as William Bruce Jenner, and was usually known as Bruce until June 2015. Her parents are Esther Ruth (née McGuire) and William Hugh Jenner, who was an arborist. She is of English, Scottish, Irish, Dutch, and Welsh descent. Her younger brother, Burt, was killed in a car accident in Canton, Connecticut, on November 30, 1976, shortly after Jenner's success at the Olympic Games. As a young child, Jenner was diagnosed with dyslexia.
Jenner was the American champion in the men's decathlon event in 1974, and was featured on the cover of Track & Field News magazine's August 1974 issue. While on tour in 1975, Jenner won the French national championship, and a gold medal at the 1975 Pan American Games, setting the tournament record with 8,045 points. This was followed by world records of 8,524 points at the U.S.A./U.S.S.R./Poland triangular meet in Eugene, Oregon, on August 9–10, 1975, breaking Avilov's record, and 8,538 points at the 1976 Olympic trials, also in Eugene. The second Eugene record was a hybrid score because of a timing system failure and it was wind aided. Still, Jenner was proud of "A nice little workout, huh?"
We got what we wanted. We scared the hell out of everybody in the world only a month away from the Games.
Of the 13 decathlons Jenner competed in between 1973 and 1976, the only loss was at the 1975 AAU National Championships, when a "no height" in the pole vault marred the score.
At the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, Jenner achieved personal bests in all five events on the first day of the men's decathlon – a "home run" – despite being in second place behind Guido Kratschmer of West Germany. Jenner was confident: "The second day has all my good events. If everything works out all right, we should be ahead after it's all over." Following a rainstorm on the second day, Jenner watched teammate Fred Dixon get injured in the 110 meter hurdles, and so adopted a cautious approach to the hurdles and discus, then had personal bests in the pole vault, when Jenner took the lead, and javelin. At that point, victory was virtually assured, and it remained to be seen by how much Jenner would improve the record. In the final event—the 1500 meters, which was seen live on national television—Jenner looked content to finish the long competition. Jenner sprinted the last lap, making up a 50-meter deficit and nearly catching the event favorite, Soviet Leonid Litvinenko, who was already well out of contention for the gold medal, and whose personal best had been eight seconds better than Jenner's personal best before the race. Jenner set a new personal best time and won the gold medal with a world-record score of 8,618 points.
After the event, Jenner took an American flag from a spectator and carried it during the victory lap, starting a tradition that is now common among winning athletes. Abandoning vaulting poles in the stadium, with no intention of ever competing again, she stated that: "In 1972, I made the decision that I would go four years and totally dedicate myself to what I was doing, and then I would move on after it was over with. I went into that competition knowing that would be the last time I would ever do this." She explained, "It hurts every day when you practice hard. Plus, when this decathlon is over, I got the rest of my life to recuperate. Who cares how bad it hurts?"
Jenner's 1976 world and Olympic record was broken by four points by Daley Thompson at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. In 1985, Jenner's Olympic decathlon score was reevaluated against the IAAF's updated decathlon scoring table and was reported as 8,634 for comparative purposes. This converted mark stood as the American record until 1991, when it was surpassed by eventual gold medalist, and world record holder, Dan O'Brien of Dan & Dave fame. As of 2018[update], Jenner was ranked twenty-sixth on the world all-time list and ninth on the American all-time list.
In the 1970s, Olympic athletes were considered to be amateurs and were not allowed to seek or accept payment for their positions as sports celebrities. During the Cold War in 1972, three major Olympic titles that had a long history of American success – basketball, the 100 meter dash, and decathlon – were won by Soviet athletes. All Soviet athletes were professionals, while the United States was limited to amateurs. Jenner became an American hero by returning the decathlon title to the United States. "After the Games were over," Jenner said, "I happened to be the right guy, at that right place, at that right time."Tony Kornheiser of The New York Times wrote that along with wife, Chrystie, Jenner was "so high up on the pedestal of American heroism, it would take a crane to get them down."
After the expected Olympic success, Jenner planned to cash in on whatever celebrity status could follow a gold medal in the same mold as Johnny Weissmuller and Sonja Henie, who had become major movie stars following their gold medals. This would require forgoing any future Olympic competition. At the time, Jenner's agent George Wallach felt there was a four-year window – until the next Olympics – upon which to capitalize. Wallach reported that Jenner was being considered for the role of Superman, which ultimately went to Christopher Reeve. "I really don't know how many offers we have", Wallach claimed. "There are still unopened telegrams back at the hotel and you just can't believe the offers that poured in during the first two days."
Image of a throwback Wheaties cereal box featuring Jenner. The box reflects designs from the 1970s, when General Mills used Jenner for branding their breakfast cereal. A vintage box sold in 2015 on eBay for US$400.
In 1977, Jenner became a spokesperson for Wheaties brand breakfast cereal and appeared in a photograph on the cover of the cereal box. After taking over from Olympic champion Bob Richards, Jenner was second in a succession of athletes featured as spokespersons for the brand. Mary Lou Retton succeeded Jenner in 1984.
On November 22, 1977, Jenner went to San Francisco to refute charges filed by San Francisco district attorney Joseph Freitas that General Mills—the maker of Wheaties—had engaged in deceptive advertising in its campaign that featured Jenner. Jenner liked Wheaties and ate the breakfast cereal two or three times a week, which supported the advertising campaign's claims. Two days later, Freitas withdrew the suit, saying that it was "a case of overzealousness" on the part of his staff.
When Jenner came out as a trans woman in 2015, General Mills stated that: "Bruce Jenner continues to be a respected member of Team Wheaties." After a negative response to this initial statement, Mike Siemienas, General Mills's brand media relations manager, clarified it by saying: "Bruce Jenner has been a respected member of Team Wheaties, and Caitlyn Jenner will continue to be."
Television and film career
Jenner began television appearances in the mid-1970s, both as herself and in character roles. One of Jenner's first recurring television roles was as a co-host of the short-lived daytime talk and variety series America Alive! in 1978. The comedy Can't Stop the Music (1980) was Jenner's first film appearance. She starred in the made-for-TV movies The Golden Moment: An Olympic Love Story (1980) and Grambling's White Tiger (1981). During the 1981–1982 season, Jenner became a semi-regular cast member in the police series CHiPs, guest-starring as Officer Steve McLeish for six episodes, substituting for star Erik Estrada, who was locked in a contract dispute with NBC and MGM. Jenner also appeared in an episode of the sitcom Silver Spoons called "Trouble with Words", wherein her personal issues with dyslexia were revealed in a storyline about a recurring teenage character with the same problem.
In 2011, Jenner appeared in the Adam Sandler comedy Jack and Jill in a scene with Al Pacino as an actor in a play. Like Can't Stop the Music, the film won the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Picture and swept every Razzie category.
In September 2016, Jenner appeared as herself on the Amazon Prime TV series Transparent in a dream sequence during the season three episode "To Sardines and Back".
In 2021, Jenner appeared as a contestant on the fifth season of The Masked Singer as the "Phoenix". She was the second contestant to be unmasked and the first of Group B. In addition, she also holds the distinction as the show's first transgender contestant.
As of November 2021, Jenner is currently starring in the Australian version of Big Brother VIP.
Jenner had licensed her previous name for Bruce Jenner's Westwood Centers for Nautilus & Aerobics in the early 1980s to David A. Cirotto, president of other local Nautilus & Aerobics Centers. She had no ownership in the licensed name centers, which were solely owned by Cirotto. Jenner's company, Bruce Jenner Aviation, sells aircraft supplies to executives and corporations. Jenner was the business development vice president for a staffing industry software application known as JennerNet, which was based on Lotus Domino technology.
In March 2016, Jenner announced that she had been chosen as the face of H&M Sport. Later that year, H&M created a six-minute film featuring Jenner, called Caitlyn Jenner's Greatest Victories: A Timeline.
Prior to her public gender transition, Jenner had been married three times, first to Chrystie Scott (née Crownover) from 1972 to 1981. They have two children, son Burt and daughter Cassandra "Casey" Marino (née Jenner). Jenner and Scott's divorce was finalized the first week of January 1981.
On April 21, 1991, Jenner married Kris Kardashian (née Houghton) after five months of dating. They have two daughters, Kendall and Kylie. While married, Jenner was also the step-parent to Kris's children from her previous marriage – Kourtney, Kim, Khloé and Robert – who star in Keeping Up with the Kardashians. The couple separated in June 2013, but the separation was not publicly announced until four months later, in October. Kris filed for divorce in September 2014, citing irreconcilable differences. Their divorce terms were finalized in December 2014 and went into effect on March 23, 2015, as mandated by a state legal requirement for a six-months delay after the filing.
Prosecutors declined to file criminal charges, but three civil lawsuits were filed against Jenner by Howe's stepchildren and drivers of other cars involved in the collision. Jessica Steindorff, a Hollywood agent who was hit by Howe's car, settled her case in December 2015. Howe's stepchildren settled their case in January 2016. Financial details were not disclosed in either case.
Coming out as a transgender woman
The Washington Post commented that Jenner's debut Vanity Fair cover, shot by Annie Leibovitz, had special significance for its subject: "After all the magazine covers that featured the former athlete, once lauded as the 'world's greatest athlete,' the Leibovitz photograph will be the most meaningful. Looking directly at the camera, Jenner is finally herself for the first time publicly."
In a 20/20 interview with Diane Sawyer in April 2015, Jenner came out as a trans woman, saying that she had dealt with gender dysphoria since her youth and that, "for all intents and purposes, I'm a woman." Jenner cross-dressed for many years and took hormone replacement therapy but stopped after her romance with Kris Kardashian became more serious, leading to marriage in 1991. Jenner recounts having permission to explore her gender identity on her own travels but not when they were coupled, and that not knowing the best way to talk about the many issues contributed to the deterioration of the 23-year-long marriage, which ended formally in 2015.
In June 2015, Jenner debuted her new name and image, and began publicly using feminine pronoun self-descriptors. Jenner held a renaming ceremony in July 2015, adopting the name Caitlyn Marie Jenner. Prior to her 20/20 interview, a two-part special titled Keeping Up with the Kardashians: About Bruce was filmed with the family in which she answered questions, and prepared her children for the personal and public aspects of the transition. In the special, which aired in May 2015, the point was emphasized that there is no one right way to transition. Jenner made it a priority to ensure that all her children were independent first before focusing on her transition. In September 2015, her name was legally changed to Caitlyn Marie Jenner and gender to female.
Jenner's announcement that she is transgender came at an unprecedented time for trans visibility, including legislative initiatives. The 20/20 interview had 20.7 million viewers, making it television's "highest-ever rated newsmagazine telecast among adults 18–49 and adults 25–54".The Daily Beast wrote that Jenner's honesty, vulnerability, and fame may have caused "cheap jokes" about trans people to "seem mean to a mainstream audience on an unprecedented scale". Noting the shift in how comedians treated Jenner's transition, The Daily Beast saw the change as the same evolution that took place in acceptance of LGBT people as a whole when "comedians finally cross the critical threshold from mockery to creativity in their joke-telling".
Jenner's emerging gender identity was revealed in a Vanity Fair interview written by Buzz Bissinger. Annie Leibovitz photographed the cover, the magazine's first to feature an openly transgender woman, which was captioned "Call me Caitlyn". Using her Twitter handle, @Caitlyn_Jenner, she tweeted: "I'm so happy after such a long struggle to be living my true self. Welcome to the world Caitlyn. Can't wait for you to get to know her/me." Time magazine declared this tweet the tenth most re-tweeted tweet of 2015, based on re-tweets of tweets by verified users from January 1 to November 10 of that year. Jenner amassed over one million Twitter followers in four hours and three minutes, setting a new Guinness World Record and surpassing United States President Barack Obama, who, a month before, accomplished the same feat in four hours and fifty-two minutes. Four days later Jenner was up to 2.37 million followers, with another 1.5 million followers on Instagram.
In August 2015, Jenner won the Social Media Queen award at the Teen Choice Awards. In October 2015, Glamour magazine named her one of its 25 Glamour Women of the Year, calling her a "Trans Champion." In November 2015, Jenner was listed as one of Entertainment Weekly's 2015 Entertainers of the Year. In December 2015, she was named Barbara Walters' Most Fascinating Person of 2015. Also in that month, she was listed on Time magazine's eight-person shortlist for the 2015 Person of the Year, and Bing released its list of the year's "Most Searched Celebrities", which Jenner was at the top of, and declared Jenner's Vanity Fair cover the second in a list of "top celeb moments of 2015." She was the second most searched for person on Google in 2015. In April 2016, she was listed in the Time 100. In June 2016, Jenner became the first openly transgender person to be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated. The cover and associated story marked the 40th anniversary of her winning the 1976 Summer Olympics decathlon.
Feminist author Germaine Greer called Glamour magazine's decision to award Jenner with a "Woman of the Year" award misogynistic, questioning whether a transgender woman could be better than "someone who is just born a woman." Jenner also received criticism from individuals such as actress Rose McGowan, for stating – in a BuzzFeed interview – that the hardest part about being a woman "is figuring out what to wear". McGowan argued: "We are more than deciding what to wear. We are more than the stereotypes foisted upon us by people like you. You're a woman now? Well fucking learn that we have had a VERY different experience than your life of male privilege." McGowan later stated that she was not transphobic, and added: "Disliking something a trans person has said is no different than disliking something a man has said or that a woman has said. Being trans doesn't make one immune from criticism."
Chris Mandle of The Independent stated: "Jenner has gone on to inspire countless men and women, but her comments, which were made after she was celebrated at Glamour magazine's Women Of The Year in New York were branded 'offensive and insulting'." He added: "People began tweeting the other, harder things women have to deal with, such as institutionalized oppression, abuse and sexual assault". James Smith, husband of Moira Smith, the only female New York Police Department officer to die on September 11, 2001, returned Moira's "Woman of the Year" award, given posthumously. Referring to Jenner as a man, he stated that he found Glamour giving Jenner the same award insulting to Moira's memory, and referred to the matter as a publicity stunt. Smith later said that, having supported transgender youth and Glamour's decision to honor transgender actress Laverne Cox in 2014, he did not object because Jenner is transgender; he objected to Jenner's "hardest part about being a woman" commentary; this proved to him that Jenner "is not truly a woman. I believe this comment and others he has made trivializes the transgender experience as I have witnessed it."
Conversely, Adrienne Tam of The Daily Telegraph argued that Jenner deserved the Glamour award, stating: "What McGowan failed to take into consideration was the jesting manner in which Jenner spoke." Tam said:
[Jenner] also immediately followed up her "what women wear" dilemma with: It's more than that. I'm kind of at this point in my life where I'm trying to figure this womanhood thing out. It is more than hair, makeup, clothes, all that kind of stuff. There's an element here that I'm still kind of searching for. And I think that'll take a while. Because I think as far as gender, we're all on a journey. We're all learning and growing about ourselves. And I feel the same way.
Tam considered McGowan's criticism to be over the top, and stated of James Smith's criticism, "The salient point here is one about courage. We easily recognise physical courage such as saving orphans from burning buildings, or ordinary people putting their lives in the line of fire. It is far harder to recognise mental courage." She added: "Without a doubt, the police officer who died in the September 11 attacks was courageous. But so is Jenner. It's a different kind of courage, but it is courage nonetheless."
Since coming out as a trans woman in 2015, Jenner has been called the most famous openly transgender woman in the world. She is also one of the most recognized LGBT people in the world and arguably the most famous LGBT athlete. Jenner said that her visibility was partly to bring attention to gender dysphoria, violence against trans women, and other transgender issues. She also sought to promote more informed discussion of LGBT issues. She signed with Creative Artists Agency's speakers department and will collaborate with the CAA Foundation on a philanthropic strategy focusing on LGBT issues. She made a private appearance at the Los Angeles LGBT Center in June 2015, where she spoke with trans youth.
Jenner in 2020
Jenner received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award during the 2015 ESPY Awards in July 2015. ESPN executive producer Maura Mandt said Jenner was given the award because "she has shown the courage to embrace a truth that had been hidden for years, and to embark on a journey that may not only give comfort to those facing similar circumstances, but can also help to educate people on the challenges that the transgender community faces." She is the third consecutive openly LGBT person to receive the award following footballer Michael Sam (2014) and anchorwoman Robin Roberts (2013).
In November, Jenner was listed as one of the nine runners-up for The Advocate's Person of the Year. That month she was also listed as one of the Out100 of 2015, with Out calling her the "Newsmaker of the Year." On International Human Rights Day, Jenner discussed transgender rights with Samantha Power, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. In 2016, Jenner was on the cover of The Advocate's February/March issue.
MAC Cosmetics collaborated with Jenner on a lipstick, called Finally Free, which was made available for purchase April 8, 2016, with MAC stating, "100% of the selling price goes to the MAC AIDS Fund Transgender Initiative, to further its work in support of transgender communities." Also in April 2016, Jenner was listed as No.8 on Out magazine's Power 50 list. In May 2016, her interview with Diane Sawyer in 2015 won Outstanding TV Journalism – Newsmagazine at the GLAAD Media Awards.
In 2021, Jenner's decision to run for governor of California was met with pushback from many LGBT activists and trans people, with activists criticizing Jenner for her views on transgender issues and support for the Republican Party. Katelyn Burns of Vox said "Jenner's politics and controversial existence as a self-professed trans advocate has long put trans Americans in a double bind, forcing them to defend her from transphobic attacks while deploring her political views." This decision became even more controversial following Jenner's opposition to trans girls in girls' sports, with some advocates saying that Jenner "did not represent the broader LGBT community".
Jenner's gender transition is the subject of I Am Cait, initially an eight-part TV documentary series, which premiered on E! in July 2015 to an audience of 2.7 million viewers. Jenner is an executive producer of the show. The show focuses on Jenner's transition and how it affects her relationships with her family and friends. The show also explores how Jenner adjusts to what she sees as her job as a role model for the transgender community. In October 2015, the show was renewed for a second season, which premiered on March 6, 2016. The show tied for Outstanding Reality Program at the GLAAD Media Awards in 2016.
In April 2017, Jenner said she was in favor of same-sex marriage.
In July 2017, Jenner announced that she was contemplating running in the 2018 race for the U.S. Senate to represent California. Later in the month, she condemned Trump for issuing an order to reinstate a ban on transgender people from serving in the military. In her tweet, she wrote "What happened to your promise to fight for them?", juxtaposing it with Trump's tweet from June 2016 in which he promised to fight for the LGBT community.
In October 2018, Jenner withdrew her support of Donald Trump; she felt "that the trans community was relentlessly attacked by [Trump]", contrary to her expectations. Her reversal came after a Trump administration proposal to restrict the legal definition of a person's gender to that assigned at birth.
In September 2021, Jenner supported the Texas Heartbeat Act which made all post-six-week abortions illegal. She supported women's right to undergo abortion but found the right to legislation of competent state institutions to override it. The bill had incurred widespread criticism.
2021 California gubernatorial recall election
Jenner's gubernatorial campaign logo
In early April 2021, it was reported that Jenner was considering running for Governor of California in the 2021 recall gubernatorial election as a Republican. Later in the month on April 23, Jenner announced her run for governor.
In May 2021, during her run, Jenner stated in an interview with TMZ that trans girls should not be allowed to compete in girls' sports at school, backing Republican Party views on transgender people in sports. Jenner reiterated her views on Twitter the next day, stating that "it's an issue of fairness and we need to protect girls' sports in our schools." She has been criticized by many transgender rights advocates who do not see her as an asset to their cause.
In her pitch to voters, Jenner has likened herself to Donald Trump, calling herself a "disrupter" like Trump.
^"Season 3: Episode 6". Saturday Night Live Transcripts. Archived from the original on June 7, 2002. Retrieved June 6, 2016. cut to John seated like Bruce Jenner at his breakfast nook
^George Bloom, III (Director), Dick Van Patten, Bruce Jenner, Pat Van Patten, Vincent Van Patten, Nels Van Patten, James Van Patten, Nicollette Sheridan (Cast) (1989). Dirty Tennis. MCA Home Video. OCLC20548178.
^Sean Dooley; Margaret Dawson; Lana Zak; Christina Ng; Lauren Effron; Meghan Keneally (April 24, 2015). "Bruce Jenner: 'I'm a Woman'". 20/20/ABC News. Archived from the original on June 5, 2016. Retrieved June 5, 2016.