The Olympian-turned-reality star tells her life story in a revelatory but surprisingly touching memoir
Caitlyn Jenner’s long-awaited memoir The Secrets of My Life, co-written with Friday Night Lights author Buzz Bissinger, hit shelves Tuesday. And despite Jenner’s decades of living in the public eye as an Olympic gold medalist and star of multiple reality shows — Keeping Up With the Kardashians and Jenner’s own post-transition series, I Am Cait — her book really does contain massive revelations about the secret she kept for most of her life.
Here are 16 of the most amazing things we learned from Jenner’s surprisingly touching, honest memoir.
1. As a kid, she liked to sneak into her mother’s closet and try on clothes and lipstick, sometimes even going outside in a dress.
“Even then I felt the sense of freedom that I would experience 30 or 40 years later in hotel rooms and lobbies.”
2. After the Olympics, Jenner dressed in drag for a skit on a Bob Hope special.
“I have to be careful not to show too much enthusiasm, so I play it cool, guy’s guys dressing up like a woman… Our wigs and dresses are purposely ridiculous. But the red heels I think not only look good on me but also fit, so I steal them after the show.”
3. Her first wife, Chrystie, is shocked when she learns of Jenner’s gender dysphoria.
“I told Chrystie in 1973 about my gender issues. It wasn’t by choice: she was putting clothes away and noticed a rubber band on one of the hooks of her bra. When she asked me about it, my first response was noncommittal:
Gee, I don’t know.
It was not very convincing… there was no way out.
That’s why the rubber band, because I’ve been wearing your clothes.”
4. Her second marriage ends when wife Linda sees Jenner in women’s clothing.
“In that room I felt she was revolted by me. I know she did not mean to, but her reaction was my greatest fear realized.”
5. For years, she loves the freedom of dressing as a woman and driving around L.A., but there comes a point where she realizes it wasn’t a good idea to do so in her highly recognizable Porsche.
“I’m driving on Santa Monica Boulevard… and am at a stoplight when my next-door neighbor pulls up to me. I can tell he is surprised.
Oh my God, what are you doing!?
I’m going to a Halloween party!
Oh, okay! Have fun.
It is a close call.”
6. She teaches herself tricks to look more feminine, wrapping cling film tightly around her waist and learning to give herself mini-facelifts beneath her wigs with packing tape and Krazy Glue (really).
“There is only one drawback to Krazy Glue: it can sometimes stick to your skin so much that it takes a little piece of skin with it when you pull it off.”
7. In the mid-1980s, Jenner sets aside a bedroom in her house for her collection of women’s clothing.
“My mom visits me once, sees them, and is happy I have a girlfriend.”
8. At this point, 1989, the New York Times begins poking around, trying to confirm the story that Jenner is a cross-dresser. Jenner pulls back.
“So I stop going through transition in 1989. I can’t do this to my kids. I can’t do this to me. I can’t do this to society. It is not ready. I have to get back in the game. I have to once again establish Bruce as the dominant presence, no matter how much I loathe him. I need cover again…. Which is when Kris Kardashian and Bruce Jenner improbably find each other.”
9. When Jenner first begins hormone therapy, in the 1980s, her breasts quickly develop into 36Bs.
She’s appearing on a TV show with Nicollette Sheridan when “for whatever reason, she puts her hand on my shirt. She is clearly startled. She feels something she did not expect.
Oh my God! What are those?! They’re bigger than mine!
I don’t miss a beat [on the show]… Nobody says anything else.”
10. When Jenner marries Kris, she undergoes breast reduction surgery, telling the surgeon they are the result of steroid use.
“The procedure is easy. He basically liposuctions them out, and from the vantage point of looking like a normal father I do look much better. But from the vantage point of myself I am sad….”
11. During Jenner’s marriage to Kris, she has very little autonomy.
“I do not have a checking account. I have a credit card, but purchases are carefully pored over. Kris is incredibly generous — on her terms.”
12. Jenner admits she was a poor dad to her oldest four kids after marrying Kris.
“I had to do whatever it took to make them a part of my life. I needed to assert myself. But I could not. So I let go of them, which is a softer way of saying I abandoned them. Because I did abandon them.”
13. Jenner says she was honest with Kris about her gender dysphoria and the two came to an agreement.
“Take Caitlyn on the road — but she is not to play in our home or hometown.”
14. After her marriage with Kris breaks up, Jenner moves out and begins to transition, starting with a tracheal shave. Her children take the news well, though the Kardashians are upset that they are not interviewed for the Diane Sawyer special interview which officially marks her transition.
“The Kardashian side feels slighted by their noticeable absence. They are right to feel slighted. They were slighted on purpose because of research showing that any time a Kardashian is on television, many in the public tend to think it is a publicity stunt to make money…. After all of the time it took to get here, I needed to make clear that this was real, this is my life and not some publicity stunt.”
15. Kim gives Jenner fashion advice for her iconic Vanity Fair cover — “You gotta rock it” — but her sons Burt, Brandon, and Brody were distressed by the magazine photo.
“Not only because they thought it was too risqué, but because I did not gauge how a son would feel seeing his father in a cream-colored bustier.”
16. On her decision to have what she calls “the final surgery”:
“I just want to have all the right parts. I am also tired of tucking in the damn thing all the time.”