Bruce Jenner's Mom on His Gender Transition: It's a Shock but I'm 'Proud of Him'

"It takes a lot of courage to do what he's doing," says Esther Jenner, 88

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After his secret struggle, reality TV father and former Olympian Bruce Jenner is "finally happy" and transitioning into a woman. Subscribe now to read the REAL story behind his life-changing decision in PEOPLE.

Bruce Jenner’s octogenarian mother admits she was shocked when he told her about his gender transition. But she has embraced it, saying she’s even more proud of her son now than when he won gold as an Olympic decathlete 40 years ago.

Esther Jenner, 88, tells the Associated Press they only discussed the matter briefly.

“He said, ‘I want to be honest about my identity, and I know this is coming out in the press,’ ” says Esther, who lives in Lewiston, Idaho. “I said I was proud of him and that I’ll always love him. I never thought I could be more proud of Bruce when he reached his goal in 1976, but I’m more proud of him now. It takes a lot of courage to do what he’s doing.”

Esther admits “it was a shock” to learn of Bruce’s journey, adding: “It’s hard to wrap your mind around it.” But she says “the family is close and very supportive of Bruce, and we’re supportive of each other.”

Also, she’s glad that Bruce, 65, isn’t hiding his true identity, which after all isn’t completely new.

“He said, ‘Mom, I’m still the same person,’ ” Esther says. “He said, ‘I’m still going to race cars, I’m still going to fly airplanes, and I’m going to get my helicopter license.'”

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