Nearly 17 million watch Bruce Jenner explain he identifies as a woman

During the interview with Diane Sawyer, former Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner said, "For all intents and purposes, I am a woman."
During the interview with Diane Sawyer, former Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner said, "For all intents and purposes, I am a woman."
Published April 25, 2015

From the New York Times:

More than 16.8 million people tuned in Friday night to watch the ABC News television special in which Bruce Jenner said he identified as a woman, according to preliminary ratings data provided by the network.

Jenner, the Olympic gold medalist and longtime member of the Kardashian family, told Diane Sawyer during the interview that he was making the transition to female from male.

"For all intents and purposes, I am a woman," he said. "People look at me differently. They see this macho male, but this female side is part of me, it's who I am. I was not genetically born that way." For the purpose of the interview, Jenner said he preferred to use the pronoun "he."

The wide-ranging two-hour interview appeared during a special edition of ABC's 20/20 news program. It attracted a much larger audience than the average episode of 20/20, which is about 6.2 million.

The highly promoted interview was noteworthy because Jenner is among the most prominent people to come out as transgender. He said that the transition, which has captured headlines, was not a publicity stunt.

During the show, Jenner explained himself well, with passion and dignity. His emotion (he was teary at times) seemed genuine and quite touching. He told Sawyer to call him Bruce and refer to him as he, saying this was his last interview as a man. He didn't say what his name would be in future encounters, and referred to his inner self as "her."

"I'm not stuck in anybody's body, it's just who I am as a human being," Jenner said. "My brain is much more female than it is male." And while he showed Sawyer a black cocktail dress he would wear to a private dinner the two had planned, he didn't allow himself to be filmed in women's clothes. Jenner explained that his femininity isn't located in his sexuality or appearance, but in his soul.

"But what I am doing is going to do some good and we're going to change the world. I really firmly believe that," he said shaking his finger at Sawyer.

Jenner said he was doing an eight-episode documentary with E! that will air this summer but said he drew the line at giving the camera the kind of access he allowed on Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Whatever further medical procedures he will undergo, he will do privately, without a film crew. "I'm not shooting any of this, I'm not filming anything," he said. "To me it's very degrading."

In one somewhat surprising part of the show, Jenner said he is a Republican and described himself as conservative. Sawyer seemed taken aback and when she asked him if he would ask Republican leaders to champion the transgender cause, Jenner was full of aplomb. "I would do that, yeah, in a heartbeat, why not? And I think they'd be very receptive to it."