Forty years after Bruce Jenner’s stunning decathlon win at the 1976 Summer Olympic Games and follow-up feature in Sports Illustrated, Caitlyn Jenner has the honor of being the magazine’s first transgender cover star. (She’s not the first transgender athlete to be interviewed, though — that prize goes to hammer throw champ Keelin Godsey.) It’s a beautiful reminder of how far Caitlin — and we, as a society — have come in the last half century. As with her Vanity Fair spread, Caitlyn opted to pose in a glittery gold number — this time in a (relatively sporty?) jumpsuit as opposed to a backless gown.
SI’s July issue spotlights the post-limelight lives of former athletes. In Jenner’s case, to question “Where Are They Now?” seems a bit absurd. We got an inside look at her transition thanks to Vanity Fair, Diane Sawyer and Keeping Up With the Kardashians, we follow her every movement on I Am Cait, we can re-watch her ESPYs speech on YouTube whenever we please, we celebrated when she became Glamour’s Woman of the Year and the face of H&M Sport’s latest line. We applauded when that video of her using the women’s bathroom in Trump Tower in New York City surfaced (“By the way, Ted [Cruz], nobody got molested,” she chides in the clip).
That’s not to say the interview isn’t worth a read. For one, the 66-year-old reveals she keeps her medal tucked away in her nail drawer of all places: “It was great for the kids at show-and-tell.”
Perhaps more compelling than the LGBTQ activist’s oft-heard reflections on her past (“Sports. It’s not real life. You go out there, you work hard, you train your ass off, win the Games. I’m very proud of that part of my life. And it’s not like I just want to throw it out. It’s part of who I am. What I’m dealing with now, this is about who you are as a human being. What did I do for the world in 1976, besides maybe getting a few people to exercise a little bit? I didn’t make a difference in the world.”) is the input by those in Caitlyn’s orbit.
“For parents who are scared or nervous about having a child come out as transgender, it suddenly feels like they’re not the only one, because they remember Caitlyn from the Olympics, and this is real. And for the kids, if they know Caitlyn at all, it’s from the Kardashians, but for them, their life is impacted by their parents’ being more open to their journey. It’s a lot easier for them if they have affirming and supportive parents,” Dr. Johanna Olson-Kennedy, adolescent medicine specialist in the care of gender nonconforming children and transgender youth at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, tells SI.
Head over to Sports Illustrated to read the full interview for more on Jenner’s life as an athlete, her thoughts on transgender society and her estimation of her legacy, which she sums up as follows: “Glamour magazine Woman of the Year and Olympian decathlon gold medalist. This has got to be the greatest double of all time, right? It will never be matched.”