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Bruce Jenner changes track

Bruce Jenner's ultra-masculine appearance is taking on a new direction. The Olympic gold medallist has felt he was meant to be a woman since he was five years old.
Bruce Jenner

He was an all-American hero – a sporting icon who was dubbed the greatest athlete in the world following his triumph in the decathlon at the 1976 Olympics. While many people know him best today as the long-suffering patriarch of reality TV show Keeping up with the Kardashians (KUWTK), a generation still remembers Bruce Jenner as the sportsman who seemingly came out of nowhere to claim the gold.

The news that Bruce (65) is transitioning to become a woman has therefore shocked many people, who are struggling to reconcile his athleticism at the Montreal Olympics with the man who shaves his legs, wears nail polish and had an operation to reduce the size of his Adam’s apple.

After his Olympic gold medal win, Bruce Jenner was considered to be the archetype of masculinity.

Also surprising is the claim, made by celebrity website TMZ, that Bruce has known he was meant to be female since the age of five. An insider says Bruce “has kept his ‘true self’ inside since he was a child, even during the 1976 Olympics”.

Back then, a New York Times article described him as being “so high up on the pedestal of American heroism, it would take a crane to get him down”. His popularity grew after he used his success to launch a career as an actor, TV sports presenter, product endorser and motivational speaker, but he eventually copped flak for being overexposed.

Bruce’s mum Esther is proud of her son’s decision to become a woman.

The Washington Post’s Kenneth Turan stood up for Bruce, writing, “He is a real-life version of the American dream. Is it his fault that he’s direct, self-assured, sincere? The type of person we’d all like to be?” The Bruce viewers have come to know thanks to KUWTK has taken a back seat to the many women in his life, but will be at the forefront of a new reality show about the process of becoming a woman.

That’s due to air later this year and, in the meantime, he’s saying nothing about the change to his life. However, his mother Esther (88) has confirmed her only surviving son – his brother Burt died in a car crash a few months after the 1976 Olympics – wants to live as a woman.

“I just learned about [his transition]… We had a very long, long, long talk about it. I support him wholeheartedly. 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,” she told Associated Press. “It takes a lot of courage to do what he is doing.”

It took particular strength to announce to his family that he was transitioning into a woman, which he did formally in December. Apart from his ex-wife Kris (59), who apparently “freaked out”, the rest of the family took the news well, according to an insider. Bruce has never worn women’s clothing or acted feminine in front of his children – Burt (36), Cassandra (34), Brandon (33), Brody (31), Kendall (19) and Kylie (17) – or his stepchildren Kourtney (35), Kim (34), Khloé (30) and Rob (27).

But he’s been slowly making changes to his appearance that have allowed them time to get used to the idea. “He’s being very smart and respectful about his transition,” says the friend. “Of course not everyone is 100% on board. But everybody loves him. He’s been through a dark period and is coming out the other side.” But Bruce is sad about the fact that his family seems to be splitting into two camps following his divorce from Kris. In the trailer for the latest season of KUWTK, Bruce appears to voice concerns that the Kardashian and Jenner sides of the family have become “so separated”.

Although Kris Jenner was initially shocked by Bruce’s decision, the rest of his extended family is said to be very supportive.

His joy at being able to finally be true to himself has also been blighted by being involved in a car accident that killed another driver. Investigators are still looking into the circumstances surrounding the February crash, in which LA woman Kim Howe died.

Bruce’s SUV hit her car from behind and pushed it into oncoming traffic, where it was struck by a Hummer. Depending on the outcome of the investigation, Bruce could face criminal charges, although his lawyer says that’s unlikely given he wasn’t speeding or texting and passed a sobriety test. He could also be sued. In a statement, Bruce described the accident as a “devastating tragedy”.

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