In an interview airing on ABC’s 20/20 Friday, former Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner told reporter Diane Sawyer that he believes God gave him “the soul of a female” but a male body so that he would have to work out his gender identity throughout his life.
“I’ve tried to explain it this way [to my kids]: God’s looking down, making little Bruce. … He says, ‘Okay, what are gonna do with this one? Make him a smart kid, very determined. … And then when He’s just finishing he says, ‘Let’s wait a second,” he told Sawyer. “God looks down and chuckles a little bit and says, ‘Hey, let’s give him the soul of a female and see how he does with that.'”
“I’ve always been confused with my gender identity since I was [a child],” Jenner, 65, acknowledged.
He said that as a child he tried on a dress in his mother’s closet, but would do so secretly so that no one would find out.
“I marked the closet so when I put it back I could put it all back, everything back in the exact same spot so I wouldn’t get caught,” Jenner said. “And, at the time, I didn’t know why I was doing it besides it just made me feel good.”
He said that he took female hormones for five years in the 1980’s, and restarted the treatments approximately a year and a half ago. Jenner has also had several cosmetic surgeries to alter his appearance.
“For all intents and purposes, I’m a woman,” he told Sawyer. “People look at me differently. They see you as this macho male, but my heart and my soul and everything that I do in life—it is part of me. That female side is part of me. That’s who I am.”
“My brain is much more female than it is male. That’s what my soul is,” Jenner continued. “Bruce lives a lie. She is not a lie. I can’t do it anymore.”
He said that he thought maybe God was behind it all.
“Maybe this is my cause in life,” Jenner stated. “This is why God put me on this earth—to deal with this issue.”
But others disagree with the former Olympic athlete, and state that while they believe Jenner should be treated with kindness over his struggles, he should also be told the truth.
“First of all, we should avoid the temptation to laugh at these suffering souls. We do not see our transgendered neighbors as freaks to be despised,” said Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, in an article on Friday. “They feel alienated from their identities as men or women and are seeking a solution to that in self-display or in surgery or in pumping their bodies with the other sex’s hormones.”
He explained that such struggles come as the result of the fall, and that all men—before Christ—face issues that distort God’s design for their lives, although the temptations differ from person to person.
“In a fallen universe, all of us are alienated, in some way, from who we were designed to be. That alienation manifests itself in different ways in different people,” Moore said. “We are born not out of self-effort but in the pure providence of our Creator. Our given gender points us to an even deeper reality—to the unity and complementarity of Christ and the Church. A rejection of the goodness of those creational realities then is a revolt against God’s lordship, and against the picture of the gospel that God has embedded in the creation.”
He stated that there is hope for Jenner in Jesus Christ—and all who believe that they were born transgender—as Christ came so that men could be born again.
“The hope for Bruce Jenner, and for others like him, is not to alter the body with surgery or to flood their systems with hormones,” Moore said. “The answer is to realize that all of us are born alienated from what we were created to be. We don’t need to fix what happened in our first birth; we need a new birth altogether.”