Bruce Jenner’s ex-wife, Linda Thompson, has penned a revealing blog detailing how her marriage to the former Olympian fell apart as she watched him struggle to come to terms with his identity as a female.
“I have respectfully kept his secrets private and would have taken his confidences to my grave had he not spoken out,” she writes in a blog on Huffington Post.
But Jenner did open up, and Thompson now feels comfortable finally sharing some of what she’s kept private since their half-decade marriage ended in 1986.
Among the revelations, the former Hee Haw actress and mother to his sons, Brandon and Brody Jenner, writes about how Jenner first confessed his gender secret.
“When Brody was about 18 months old and Brandon was about 3 and a half years old, Bruce came to me one day with a very somber look on his face and said, ‘There's something about me that I really need to tell you, something you need to know,’ recalls Thompson.
“I truly thought he might possibly tell me he had had an affair while on the road. But that's not what he wanted to confess to me. Bruce told me that he identified as a woman. Not understanding exactly what he meant, I questioned him. ‘What do you mean you identify as a woman?’ I asked. ‘What does that mean?’”
Thompson writes that Jenner replied that in the mirror he saw a ‘masculine image’ staring back at him when he felt it should have been a female.
“People have asked me, ‘Were there any signs or clues through the years that Bruce might have had this issue? Any evidence he wore your clothes?’” continues Thompson.
Her response: “No. Not a clue. Nothing. Nada. Never.”
To Thompson’s credit, she sought help to try to understand where her husband was coming from — even if transgender issues were still largely taboo in the ‘80s.
“I found a therapist who specialized in gender dysphoria,” she writes. “Her name was Dr. Gertrude Hill, and we began going to her right away. She was a lovely woman who very calmly, and as gently as she could, massacred me with the information that broke my heart into a million pieces.”
Jenner’s desperation to match his inner feelings with his outer appearance only made the situation even more heart wrenching for her to watch.
“Bruce considered traveling out of the country, possibly to Denmark, to have the gender-confirmation surgery and then come back to the U.S. identifying as female,” explains Thompson. “I asked Bruce, ‘What about the children?’ He thought maybe he could reenter their lives as ‘Aunt Heather.’”
Thompson also reveals how Jenner did what he could to change his appearance at the time.
“Poor Bruce began the process of having electrolysis performed on his heavily bearded face. He then began having the hair on his chest removed. One excruciatingly painful hair at a time was targeted by an electrical current. Unimaginable. Bruce began to grow breasts as a result of the female hormones he was injecting,” she reveals.
Jenner’s changing appearance would eventually create issues with his children.
“One day, after having spent a little time at Bruce's house, both boys came into the kitchen and said to me, ‘Mommy, we saw Daddy getting out of the shower naked, and Daddy has boobs!’” writes Thompson. “That day I began trying to cover for Bruce, trying to protect him and trying to explain away what was clearly happening to his visage.”
“As devastated as I was, my heart bled for Bruce and what he must have lived with his entire life. It's impossible for those of us who are comfortable living in our own skin to fully grasp what an imprisonment that must feel like to be born into the wrong body,” continues Thompson, who separated from Jenner after they went to therapy for about six months since “being married to a woman was not what I had envisioned for my life.”
“I know it's difficult to understand, to emotionally or even intelligently wrap your head around. It was extremely difficult for me to comprehend, and adjust my life accordingly to, the realization that the man I had married — the very masculine, gorgeous, ideal, wonderful hunk of a man — would be no more.”
“So as much as this is about Bruce, it's not all about him,” Thompson insists. “The sharing of my experience is meant to enlighten and inform — to lend a modicum of comfort and support for all those disenfranchised, struggling, discriminated-against, searching souls.”
Watch: Bruce Jenner - I've been waiting my whole life for this