NEW YORK — Bruce Jenner’s transition is complete.
“Call me Caitlyn,” declares a headline on the July cover of Vanity Fair, with a photo of a long-haired Jenner in a strapless corset, legs crossed, sitting on a stool. The image was shot by famed celeb photographer Annie Leibovitz. Inside, more images depict Caitlyn in gold lame, a black bustier and a cleavage-baring, off-the-shoulder gown.
Caitlyn Jenner also debuted a new Twitter account with: “I’m so happy after such a long struggle to be living my true self. Welcome to the world Caitlyn. Can’t wait for you to get to know her/me.” In about three hours, the account had more than 860,000 followers.
According to the magazine, which took to Twitter with the cover Monday, Jenner spoke emotionally about her gender journey: “If I was lying on my deathbed and I had kept this secret and never ever did anything about it, I would be lying there saying, ‘You just blew your entire life.'”
The cover photo was shot at Jenner’s Malibu, California, home and comes on the heels of her two-hour ABC interview with Diane Sawyer in which Bruce Jenner confirmed the transition. The much-anticipated “20/20” interview on April 24 was watched by more than 17.1 million viewers.
Prior to the unveiling of Caitlyn, Jenner had said he preferred the pronoun “he,” but Vanity Fair contributing editor Buzz Bissinger, who wrote the story, refers to “she.”
The Olympian who married and divorced reality show “momager” Kris Jenner has appeared for years on “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.” Jenner’s own still-untitled docu-series chronicling her transition is scheduled for the same network, E!, beginning July 26.
In addition to the va-va voom corset cover, Vanity Fair released a black-and-white video on the making of the cover
“Caitlyn doesn’t have any secrets,” Jenner narrates. “As soon as the Vanity Fair cover comes out, I’m free.”
Bissinger, the “Friday Night Lights” Pulitzer Prize winner, said in the lengthy magazine story that he had unfettered access to Jenner, both before her transition and after. His approach to Jenner’s life is exhaustive, based on interviews with several of her biological children, her mother, her former wives and others.
The story describes Jenner’s painful recovery from “facial-feminization” surgery in March, a grueling 10-hour procedure that had her briefly second-guessing her decision during a panic attack eased in part with the help of a Los Angeles Gender Center counsellor who made a house call. There was also a breast-augmentation procedure.
Now, Bissinger reports, the 65-year-old Jenner is “immensely happy, relaxed, with a shiny sense of purpose and confidence.” He added: “She can’t wait when she goes out now to tell the paparazzi to ‘make sure it’s a good shot.'”
Of the upcoming reality series, Jenner is already prepared with a response over criticism that she’s doing it for a paycheque:
“I’m not doing it for money. I’m doing it to help my soul and help other people. If I can make a dollar, I certainly am not stupid. (I have) house payments and all that kind of stuff. I will never make an excuse for something like that. Yeah, this is a business.”
Jenner said she is aware of the appalling conditions in which many of the 700,000 transgender men and women live in the U.S. and plans to shed light in the E! show on such issues as suicide and attempted suicide within the community.
She also plans a segment in which she sees if she can still hit a golf ball 300 yards off the tee with her new physical attributes. A road trip is also planned for Jenner and several transgender women to travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco to visit a centre for transgender youth.
On July 15, Jenner plans her first major public appearance. She will be given the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at ESPN’s ESPYs in Los Angeles. Past winners include Muhammad Ali, Nelson Mandela and Billie Jean King.
Among big names to reach out on Twitter in support of Jenner’s big reveal were some of her children, LGBT advocates and Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to President Barak Obama.
“Nice to meet you, @Caitlyn_Jenner,” Jarrett tweeted (and was re-tweeted by the White House). “The brave choice to live as your authentic self is a powerful example to so many.”
Leanne Italie, The Associated Press