Insiders Report Bruce Jenner is Transitioning to a Woman

There has been rumors for months that Olympic Gold Medalist and Kardashian/Jenner clan patriarch Bruce Jenner, 65, was thinking about transitioning to a woman.

Long hair and manicured nails, followed by a tracheal shave (a procedure to reduce the prominence of his Adam’s apple) had many tongues awagging.

But in recent weeks statements from family members seem to confirm those rumors. People magazine wrote that close sources to Jenner are saying:

“Bruce is transitioning to a woman. He is finally happy and his family is accepting of what he’s doing. He’s in such a great space. That’s why it’s the perfect time to do something like this.”

Britain’s Daily Mail claims that Bruce’s mother, Esther Jenner, is also confirming this:

‘I just learned about [his transition]. Bruce filled me in, and we had a very long, long, long talk about it.

‘I have never been more proud of Bruce for who he is, himself as a father, as an Olympian, a wonderful public speaker. He instills enthusiasm in people. He’s gifted.’

Step-daughter Kim Kardashian recently said that Bruce is undergoing “a journey”:

“I think everyone goes through things in life, and I think that story and what Bruce is going through, I think he’ll share whenever the time is right.”

It has also been reported that Jenner has been filming for his own docu-series to be aired on E! And ABC News reporter Diane Sawyer has scooped an one-on-one interview with Jenner this week. The special will  be shown in May.

This is obviously a story that will unfold over the next few months. So perhaps we should start our coverage with some basics.

What is gender and how is it different from sex?

Gender_differences_male_femaleAccording to the World Health Organization: “Sex” refers to the biological and physiological characteristics that define men and women. There are a number of indicators of biological sex, including sex chromosomes, gonads, internal reproductive organs, and external genitalia.

“Gender” refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women.

In other words, “Male” and “female” are sex categories, while “masculine” and “feminine” are gender categories.

Examples: A male will have testicles, a female has ovaries. Being nurturing to children is often considered a feminine characteristic. In some cultures, driving a car (or obtaining an education) are considered masculine and are reserved only for men.

What is gender identity?

Gender identity is a person’s internal sense, and subjective experience, of their own gender. This is generally described as one’s own sense of being a boy or girl/ man or  woman.

Gender identity is  formed at the age of three as children become aware of the anatomic differences between male and female.  They respond to social cues and from the approval they receive from those around them when they behave in a manner consistent with what is considered appropriate for that gender.

According to psychologist Dr. Lawrence Kohlberg, by age 7, children realize that their gender is permanent and at this is when they more systematically imitate the behaviors of those of their own sex.

What is sexual orientation?

“Sexual orientation” is the preferred term used when referring to an individual’s physical and/or emotional attraction to the same and/or opposite gender. “Gay,” “lesbian,” “bisexual” and “straight” are all examples of sexual orientations. A person’s sexual orientation is distinct from a person’s gender identity and expression.

What is gender expression?

Gender expression refers to all of the external characteristics and behaviors that are socially defined as either masculine or feminine, such as dress, grooming, mannerisms, speech patterns and social interactions. Social or cultural norms can vary widely and some characteristics that may be accepted as masculine, feminine or neutral in one culture may not be assessed similarly in another.

What does transgender mean?

Transgender individuals are people with a gender identity that is different from the sex assigned to them at birth.  Someone who was assigned the male sex at birth but who identifies as female is a transgender woman.  Likewise, a person assigned the female sex at birth but who identifies as male is a transgender man. Being transgender does not imply a specific sexual orientation- transgender individuals can have homosexual or heterosexual or bisexual orientations.

What is gender dysphoria?

Gender dysphoria (formerly known as gender identity disorder) is a condition in which there is a conflict between a person’s physical gender and the gender he or she identifies with. For example, a person who is physically a boy may actually feel and act like a girl. The person is very uncomfortable with the gender they were born as.

Symptoms can vary by age and are affected by the person’s social environment.

Children may:

  • Be disgusted by their own genitals
  • Be rejected by their peers, feel alone
  • Believe that they will grow up to become the opposite sex
  • Say that they want to be the opposite sex

Adults may:

  • Dress like the opposite sex
  • Feel alone
  • Want to live as a person of the opposite sex
  • Wish to be rid of their own genitals

Adults and children may:

  • Cross-dress, show habits typical of the opposite sex
  • Have depression or anxiety
  • Withdraw from social interaction

Source: Medline

What is transitioning?

Some individuals will find it necessary to transition from living and working as one gender to another.  These individuals often seek some form of medical treatment such as counseling, hormone therapy, electrolysis, and reassignment surgery.  Some individuals, however, will not pursue some (or any) forms of medical treatment because of their age, medical condition, lack of funds, or other personal circumstances.

More information on transitioning in future articles…


Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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