"This has to be an effort that we all get together behind," Caitlyn Jenner says of fighting for transgender rights

By Tierney McAfee
Updated December 10, 2015 04:35 PM
Nancy Stone/Chicago Tribune/TNS/Getty

Caitlyn Jenner has had a profound and positive impact on the trans community since she came out as a transgender woman this past spring – but she knows there’s still “a lot of work to be done,” both nationally and globally.

In a discussion with U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power on International Human Rights Day, the I Am Cait star pointed to the high rate of hate crimes and murders committed against transgender people worldwide and opened up about her own past struggle with suicidal thoughts.

“There’s a lot of lives to be saved,” she says. “I thought about, on one particular occasion, that maybe the easy way out of this is, just kind of take your life. Just be done with it, no more pain, you move on and go to a better place hopefully. And then I thought, ‘What a terrible way to end my life I don’t want to end the story this way.’ “

Although she says the U.S. has “come a long way” in terms of transgender rights, Jenner acknowledges, “We have a long way to go” – and the challenges are even more daunting overseas. “This has to be an effort that we all get together behind, and we have a vehicle.”

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Jenner, 66, is also committed to doing her part for transgender people “who don’t have the hope that she managed to find” by setting a positive example and keeping an open dialogue about transgender rights and issues.

“I hope that one, I can set an example for them. That even though no matter who you are, what your background is, what your age is, you can live authentically,” Jenner said.

“It’s okay to talk about these issues. For so long the transgender community, the ‘T’ in the LGBT, was kind of pushed under the rug,” she continued. “This is an issue of humanity, of people. God made us all. It’s a rainbow.”