Before reading, please note we are deeply sensitive to Bruce’s desire to live his life as a woman, but for the sake of this article we’re using male pronouns.
In light of the interview airing, Linda Thompson, Bruce’s second wife and mother of Brandon and Brody Jenner has spoken-out about her marriage to Bruce and how they privately dealt with his desire to transition to a woman. Linda announces she never would have “dared” violated Bruce’s truth or his dignity by revealing his gender dysphoria before he did so himself.
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“I have respectfully kept his secrets private and would have taken his confidences to my grave had he not spoken out,” Linda writes in a powerfully moving letter published by the Huffington Post, which gives details about their marriage, relationship, and how his decision in the 1980s to begin transitioning was the end of their marriage.
Labeling Bruce as a “trailblazer,” Linda reminds us that this story has many, many layers. “So as much as this is about Bruce, it’s not all about him. 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,” write Linda. “Bruce’s story and his struggle are uniquely his; my experiences with Bruce are commensurately uniquely my own.”
“If Bruce had told me about his gender issue when we first began getting romantically involved, I would not have married him. Pure and simple,” states Linda. “But looking back, I’m so grateful to God, the universe, and Bruce that I didn’t know, and that Bruce played the role in my life that he did. What a tragedy that truth, if Bruce had confessed it in 1979, would have been for my existence as I have known it! I would never have experienced the joy, the honor, the privilege of being the mother of the two most precious gifts I have ever known, Brandon and Brody. As life has a way of unfolding as it is meant to, I have learned to trust life.”
Linda met Bruce in 1979 at a charity event held at the Playboy Mansion and she was smitten – so was Bruce. He was separated from his first wife Christie at the time. “He was sweet, shy, and very gentlemanly,” Linda recalls. The first night they met she worried he would mistake her for an aspiring Playmate and get the wrong impression. He didn’t. A dinner date followed, spurning “a romantic relationship that lasted several years and produced two wonderful sons.”
“The Bruce I knew back then was an easygoing, down-to-earth, casual, romantic, good and loving man,” reflects Linda. “I was extremely happy to have found such a remarkable partner with whom to share my life. I found him to be honorable and, well, just too good to be true. Just too good to be true indeed.”
“Those were the happiest days of my life,” says Linda openly. “Life was just about as good as it gets.” She describes being very close with Burt and Casey (Bruce’s children from his first marriage) then welcoming sons Brandon and Brody. She and Bruce were also a formidable couple: well-matched on many levels, happy, charitable, loving, athletic, and active, doting parents who were also known as a “glamour couple” to the media. “I thought we lived a pretty idyllic life,” admits Linda.
“Bruce was pretty much the perfect specimen of a man,” shares Linda. “The Bruce I knew back then was unstudied, affable, and seemingly very comfortable in his own skin. So it seemed.”
All of that changed when Brandon was 3 and Brody was 18 months. This is when Bruce disclosed to Linda that he wasn’t so comfortable in his skin and he actually identified as a woman. “Bruce lamented, ‘I have lived in the wrong skin, the wrong body, my whole life. It is a living hell for me, and I really feel that I would like to move forward with the process of becoming a woman, the woman I have always been inside.’ 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?’ No. Not a clue. Nothing. Nada. Never.”
Linda, understandably, was flabbergasted, but also confused. Especially given that 30 years ago “very few of us were adequately educated about the world of gender dysphoria. I certainly wasn’t,” she writes. “So my reaction to Bruce’s shocking declaration was one of confusion, even desperation. I suggested that we go to therapy. I needed to understand fully what Bruce’s issue was, and then to determine if it was something we could overcome or ‘fix.’ I was naïve. As I said, I was pretty ignorant of the fact that being transgender isn’t something that can be overcome, fixed, prayed away, exorcised or obliterated by any other arcane notion.”
The therapist Linda found taught her that this is who Bruce is, and she could accept it or divorce him. “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,” acknowledges Linda.
“Around that time 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,” reveals Linda. “I asked Bruce, ‘What about the children?’ He thought maybe he could reenter their lives as ‘Aunt Heather.'”
“Bruce and I separated after going to therapy for about six months — just to exhaust any hope of keeping our family together. Being married to a woman was not what I had envisioned for my life,” says Linda. “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.”
Despite all she knew and learned bout Bruce, Linda had difficulty reconciling that the Bruce she knew, “would be no more.” Explains Linda, “The human entity was still alive, but it truly was like mourning the death of the person I had grown to know and love.”
“I was so heartbroken,” she writes, but she was also empathetic to Bruce, and determined to support both Bruce and her sons through this process. However, as Bruce began to grow breasts and take on a more feminine appearance, Linda panicked. “My life, my psyche, my femininity, my sexuality, my sanity was in a state of upheaval. I panicked about what I would ever tell my two boys about their former Olympian father, and how I would raise them alone.” When Linda and Bruce divorced, she waived child support and alimony, but retained an “open door” policy for Bruce to visit the boys whenever he wanted. They often visited him too, but never spent the night at his house.
Although one time at his house, Brandon and Brody saw Bruce getting out of the shower and noticed he had boobs. Linda explained it away as muscles that had now turned soft since Bruce was no longer in training as an athlete. Another shock: as Bruce continued with the process of transition, he simultaneous dated several women despite his changing appearance. Then Linda met and married David Foster, Bruce married Kris Jenner, and the exes went their separate ways, tenuously connected by two sons that Bruce retained a distant relationship with.
Linda shares that for many years Bruce retained no relationships with his sons, something Bruce himself has admitted several times. “After Brandon and Brody were grown and I did reveal their father’s issue, I think the knowledge helped them put the pieces together and explain some of Bruce’s dysfunctional parenting,” she explains. “I certainly did my share of rationalizing through it all.”
But now the rationalizing and the secrets are over. “After having harbored his secret, and feeling in my heart and mind that I have protected him through these years, I can now breathe a little easier, knowing he now has found the strength and the courage to fulfill his dream,” shares Linda, who urges people to be kind, compassionate, and practice tolerance.
You can read Linda’s full letter at The Huffington Post.
And finally, as Bruce shared on his Diane Sawyer interview that a reality show chronicling his new life will being airing on E!. The yet untitled series “will tell Bruce’s intimate story” as viewers watch while “he seeks out his ‘new normal,'” reads a press release from the network.
“Living for the first time as the person he feels he was born to be, the docu-series will also explore what Bruce’s transition means for the people in his life and how those relationships are affected, while offering a better understanding of many of life’s challenges.”
The press release clarifies that the use of male pronouns was intentional as Bruce is not yet publicly living as a woman.
Bruce’s new 8-episode show will premiere Sunday, July 26 at 9 EST.
TELL US – WHAT DO YOU THINK OF LINDA’S LETTER? WILL YOU BE WATCHING BRUCE’S NEW SHOW?
[Photo Credits: WENN & Fayes Vision/WENN.com]