Caitlyn Opens Up About Transitioning

The second annual Makers Conference in Palos Verdes, CA kicked off Monday evening with America Ferrera and Gloria Steinem discussing diversity in Hollywood, and Tuesday morning, the conversation continued with Caitlyn Jenner. The 66-year-old, who previously went by the name of Bruce Jenner, took the stage to speak about her transition over the past nine months. "Gender is a journey that we are all on, male and female, constantly learning about ourselves, about who we are. My journey was very different than everybody else's, [because] even in the trans community, every story is different," she says at the female-centric conference. "I got to the point in my life, after struggling for so long, where I had to do something. I have so much to learn about this [female] community, I've only been involved for the last nine months. It's a wonderful rebirth."

After a round of uproarious applause from the audience, Jenner asked the crowd: "When did you know you were a girl? So many people struggle for so many years of their life to answer that very simple question. I got to the point in my life where this woman had lived inside of me all my life, and it's time for her to live. Let's give her a chance. I am not a spokesperson for the trans person, I'm only a spokesperson for my own story," she says. "There is nothing better than to wake up in the morning and be your authentic self."

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But before Caitlyn transitioned, she admits to dealing with fear and intense isolation. "For so many years I was very much alone," the Keeping Up With the Kardashians star says. "I had a house in Malibu, and for almost six years I never really came out. I never felt like I fit in anywhere. I was stuck, and isolation was the best thing to do. I could dress up any way I wanted. Sometimes I would sneak out at night, but nobody knew."

Luckily, her transformation helped her find her confidence. "I'm totally into it now, let's get dressed!" she says, emphasizing her newfound love of fashion. "As my daughter Kimberly says, 'Every time you go out you've gotta rock it.' I don't know if you remember her when she was pregnant with her first one, but she had this flowery outfit from head to toe, it still pops up [in the media] every now and then."

While Jenner is enjoying her life as Caitlyn, she realizes her transition process is different — and perhaps easier — than many others in the trans community. "I wake up and see nothing but love and support. But I think it was 22 murders last year, we've already had one this year, of trans women. Suicide rates are so high. I have thought of suicide," the Olympian admits. "But what a terrible way to end my story."

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Jenner attributes the Internet as being a large part of the growing support in the trans community. "I never met another trans-person until I transitioned. What has really changed in the last 12 years is the Internet. All of a sudden you could see other stories. That has changed the game," she says.

Yet according to Jenner, there is still so much that needs to change in the public's perception and support of trans individuals. "We are a rainbow of many different colors, and the trans community is one of those colors," she says. "There is a trans community out there with tremendous issues and tremendous problems. They just need a chance — an opportunity to make their life better. Trans women of color have problems with sex work and homelessness. We need places for them to stay... show them that there are opportunities out there."

Jenner, who received a standing from the audience, concludes: "How many people at the age of 65 can totally reinvent their life to make a difference? I wake up in the morning excited about the opportunity."