The former Olympian – who announced she was transgender in an April Diane Sawyer interview before introducing herself as Caitlyn on the cover of Vanity Fair in June – was recognized at Glamour magazine’s 25th annual Women of the Year awards, being hailed “The Trans Champion.”
“There was a French activist and writer, Simone de Beauvoir, who said, ‘You are not born woman. You become one’ … Words I live by,” Jenner, 66, cracked during her acceptance speech at New York’s Carnegie Hall Monday night.
Jokes aside, the I Am Cait star opened up about life leading up to her transition, how it’s changed since and the effect it’s had on her famous family (including daughter Kylie, 18, who attended the event with Caitlyn).
“I am so blessed I have family. And not one of them has abandoned me; they’ve all been support of me. It’s incredible,” Jenner said in a video collage before taking the stage.
“Of all the things I’ve done in my life, Caity is why God put me on this earth: to tell my story; to be honest with myself about who I am. And in doing that, making a difference in the world. And I’m very happy to be living on the other side.”
Here are five things we learned from Jenner’s acceptance speech.
The years leading up to her transition to Cailtyn were full of ”isolation”
My transition was very, very long. I had many, many, many years of isolation from the world, of lying to the world, of not being myself. I got to a few years ago; I was back out in Malibu in my home, all alone. I raised wonderful children. And I thought: “What am I gonna do with my life?” I isolated myself and lied to myself and lied to the world for so long: “What am I gonna do with my life?”
I sat down with my pastor, talked to him about my issues. And yes, I had a lot of conversations with God. I came to the conclusion: You know what? Maybe this is why God put me on this earth to tell my story. To be authentic to myself, to who I am. And maybe in doing that, maybe you can make a difference in the world. What a great opportunity in life to have.
Nasty tabloid reports leading up to her announcing her transition were very ”hurtful” and took a toll on the family
I sat down with each one of my 10 children, and it was the big secret in the family that nobody could talk about because I was getting destroyed in the tabloids every week, walking through the grocery line, looking at the headlines. And so were my children. It was hurtful. So I sat each one of ’em down, and I said, “This is my story. This is who I am. What can I do?”
She felt a shift in how people reacted to her almost immediately after coming out as trans
So it started with Diane Sawyer so eloquently and so beautifully telling my story. And then two months later, then pictures and the name came out: Boy, oh boy, did the conversation change. No longer [was] the media saying terrible things about you, because they would be homophobic. All of a sudden, everybody became comfortable …
Boy, did the conversations change. All of a sudden, all these new questions came into my life. People were going, “What’s your style? What are you gonna wear? Who are your heroes? Are you a feminist?” All these questions, and I said, “Oh my gosh, I’ve got so much to learn.”
From getting a female driver’s license to just going out in public, ”I like being myself” finally
For years and years, I never felt like I fit in anywhere. I always felt as an outsider; I never felt good in the male side, and I wasn’t obviously in the female side. I was kind of stuck in the middle. But all of a sudden, after making these decisions and coming out, it was by far the best thing that I ever did.
Because for so many years, I lost my enthusiasm for life. Literally, sitting in my house for almost six years. Because I never really wanted to come out just to go to work, that was about it. Now, actually, I like going out. And I like being myself. And in doing that, it’s been an amazing the opportunity we have for change, for people to understand this issue because it’s so difficult…
Finally, last week, I got my driver’s license! Picture and gender marker “F”! It’s always the little things in life that really you notice.
She is grateful for the trans pioneers that paved the way before her
I could not have done this without the people who have gone before me: the Laverne Coxs of the world, the Janet Mocks … What I have learned about this community is what a great group of women there are out there, who have worked so hard to be authentic to themselves and authentic to womanhood.