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Bruce Jenner's first wife describes watching '20/20' special with family: 'It was pretty intense'

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Jean Pierre Danvoye/AP

Bruce Jenner had his* whole family by his side as the nation watched the Olympian’s groundbreaking ABC 20/20 special with Diane Sawyer, in which Jenner publicly confirmed his gender identify.

Jenner’s interview included the revelation that his first wife Chrystie Crownover was “the first one to know” that he identifies as female. Crownover, who was married to Jenner in the 1970s, told Good Morning America this morning that the confession happened early in their marriage: “I didn’t really know what to say. I was really pleased that he shared that intimacy with me, that he trusted me with his deepest darkest secret.”

Crownover told GMA that it was “hard to wrap [her] head around” the news, but added, “It didn’t threaten me, it didn’t threaten our marriage, it wasn’t really a threat… It wasn’t a problem.”

Of the decades Jenner spent keeping quiet about his gender identity, Crownover said, “I know it’s been painful for him… I know it’s been a torment in his life.”

She also discussed the experience of watching the interview with Jenner and their family, calling it “kind of surreal” and describing his immediate reaction to the special as simply “pain.”

“He was tearful at times,” Crownover said. “It broke my heart for him… I think it was cathartic to watch it together. It was pretty intense.”

*Jenner has not indicated a preference for female pronouns. This story uses male pronouns in deference to that.