World, meet Caitlyn Jenner.
Caitlyn, formerly known as Bruce Jenner, graces the July cover of Vanity Fair... and she looks amazing. Famed photographer Annie Leibovitz (the woman behind Kim Kardashian and Kanye West's Vogue cover) shot the first portraits of Caitlyn earlier this month at her Malibu home.
"If I was lying on my deathbed and I had kept this secret and never ever did anything about it, I would be lying there saying, 'You just blew your entire life,'" Jenner, 65, tells the magazine.
In a behind-the-scenes video from the shoot, Caitlyn says she is finally free:
"I was probably at the [Olympic] Games because I was running away from a lot of things. Very, very proud of the accomplishment, I don't want to diminish that accomplishment. The last few days of doing this shoot was about my life and who I am as a person. It's not about the fanfare, it's not about people cheering in the stadium, it's not about going down the street and everybody giving me a, 'That a boy Bruce' pat on the back. This is about your life. Bruce always had to tell a lie. He was always living that lie, every day he always had a secret from morning 'til night. Caitlyn doesn't have any secrets. Soon as the Vanity Fair cover comes out, I'm free."
Caitlyn sat down with Pulitzer Prize–winning contributing editor Buzz Bissinger (who also wrote Friday Night Lights) for the issue. Bissinger spent hundreds of hours with Jenner, both as Bruce and Caitlyn, and begins the article on March 15, 2015, when Jenner officially said goodbye to Bruce.
Bruce left his Malibu home at 4:15 a.m. and headed to the Beverly Hills office of a surgeon specializing in what is known as facial-feminization surgery. That typically involves procedures such as hairline correction, forehead contouring, jaw, and chin contouring. Bruce would undergo a breast augmentation, but did not have genital surgery. Kissinger notes Jenner was "nervous."
"You wonder if you are making all the right decisions," Jenner mused days earlier. "I wish I were kind of normal. It would be so much more simple. The uncomfortableness of being me never leaves all day long… I'm not doing this to be interesting. I'm doing this to live." He couldn't resist by lightening the mood a bit, joking, "I'm not doing this so I can hit it off the women's tee."
Jenner left the surgeon's office in March as Caitlyn (the Diane Sawyer interview aired after the completed transition). During Caitlyn's first full day of recovery at home in Malibu she experienced a panic attack for the first time in 65 years. It only lasted 15 seconds but as she paced around, she was consumed with the thought: "What did I just do? What did I just do to myself?" A counselor from the Los Angeles Gender Center came over to help ease her mind. Caitlyn explains that since that initial incident, she has not had another, nor does she have any regrets.
Caitlyn's main goal is to live a life without lies, because Bruce was "always telling lies." This is something her oldest children — Brandon, Cassandra, Brody, and Burt — are hoping for as well.
"I have high hopes that Caitlyn is a better person than Bruce," Burt, 36, tells the magazine. "I'm very much looking forward to that."
The relationship between the Jenners and Kardashians is a complex one, and something the full Vanity Fair article — which hits stands on June 9 — dives into. But for now, Caitlyn's children are putting on a united front in support of her new life ahead.
Members of her family have been voicing their support on social media today. Khloé — who was having the most difficult time with Bruce's transition — reposted the Vanity Fair cover on Instagram, writing, "We were given this life because you were strong enough to live it! I couldn't be prouder!!! Caitlyn, You are beautiful!!!"
Kendall, 19, also gave her stamp of approval.
And Kim, who has been the most accepting of Caitlyn's kids, chimed in, too:
Caitlyn Jenner for Vanity Fair 📷 Annie Leibovitz! How beautiful! Be happy, be proud, live life YOUR way! pic.twitter.com/39fryBwUqE— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) June 1, 2015
Everyone please follow @Caitlyn_Jenner on twitter! xoxo— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) June 1, 2015
After the big reveal on Monday, Caitlyn launched a new Twitter account and wrote:
I'm so happy after such a long struggle to be living my true self. Welcome to the world Caitlyn. Can't wait for you to get to know her/me.— Caitlyn Jenner (@Caitlyn_Jenner) June 1, 2015
So happy indeed. In fact, during the Vanity Fair shoot, she looked at her Olympic gold medal sitting on the table in front of her and touched it. "That was a good day," she said, before her eyes "rimmed red" and her softened. "But the last couple of days were better."