EXCLUSIVE: Caitlyn Jenner on ‘20/20’ Special 1 Year Later: ‘I Wanted It to Be About This Community’

by Stacy Lambe 1:30 AM PDT, May 20, 2016
Photo: Getty Images

“I am a woman.”

On Friday, April 24, 2015, Caitlyn Jenner announced to the world that she was a transgender woman in a revealing sit-down interview with Diane Sawyer for a special edition of 20/20, Bruce Jenner: The Interview.

MORE: Caitlyn Jenner Is Finally Going to Guest Star on 'Transparent'

While she didn’t reveal her name or her extensive transition at the time -- that would come later on the cover of Vanity Fair -- it was the last time the world saw Jenner as Bruce. Over 17 million people watched as she explained her decision to transition at 65 years old. The special also shined the spotlight on the transgender community, exploring stories other than Jenner’s.

“I really wanted it to not just be about me,” Jenner explained to ET backstage with Sawyer and producer David Sloan at the 2016 GLAAD Media Awards in New York City, where the special won Outstanding TV Journalism - Newsmagazine. “I wanted it about this community and about the struggles and the difficulties, and to help people understand what being gender dysphoric, transgender -- whatever you want to call it -- is.”

PHOTOS: Caitlyn Jenner's Best Looks

Meanwhile, the rest of her journey -- or the beginning of it as Caitlyn -- was documented on the E! reality series, I Am Cait, which saw her expand her circle of friends to include prominent members of the transgender community, including actress Candis Cayne and longtime activist Jennifer Boylan. (The show tied with TLC’s I Am Jazz for Outstanding Reality Program during the Los Angeles ceremony.)

Reflecting on the one-year anniversary of the interview, Jenner, Sawyer, and Sloan chatted about the experience, from the nail polish to the unknown future. 

Diane Sawyer: You talked about this, [but] what I think was so moving was how many people came to learn and stayed to learn and were on social media talking about it together. It was almost as if we were all learning together.

David Sloan: Almost [like] a classroom.

DS: A classroom, but also an experience of the heart.

Caitlyn Jenner: You know what I remember? After it was over with and we were six months after it, I thought, “What did we accomplish with that and then Vanity Fair and then the show and all that sort of stuff?” What we did is we opened up the conversation. We started a conversation about a small segment of our population. [There are people] out there that have been persecuted. Suicide rate is so high. People don’t understand the difference between transgender, sexuality, and homosexuality. They just don’t get it and we started this conversation. And for the last year, it's been the most amazing year of people coming up and talking about this issue. It’s been great. It really has been.

DS: I'm reminding you, you promised me another interview.

CJ: Oh, I know, baby. And you're going to get it. You are going to get that. Don't you worry!

DS: I just booked again.

CJ: It is, because the last year has been so interesting and so much has happened in my life.

DS: And not foreseeable when we sat down.

CJ: Not even close. Honestly, when we sat down, I had no idea whatsoever what the future held. None. I didn't know if you'd be accepted, not be accepted, if you'd be ostracized, pushed out of society. I just didn't know and it's been great.

DS: And again, you were saying things for the first time. We had never met, you know?

CJ: We had never met.

DS: Before the interview.

CJ: Until she walked in that day.

DS: Right, so you were saying [things] for the first time. I was hearing them for the first time and you were, in so many ways, leaping into an unknown future.

CJ: I had no idea how that was going [to go], but fortunately it's been going very positive. And to be able to live your life for the last year, authentically, [and with] no more secrets -- I mean, I've had so many great experiences. It's been wonderful.

DS: And you're right, I'm not the tallest girl in the room. [Sawyer is 5’ 9” and Jenner is 6’ 2”.]

CJ: That's exactly what I told her during the interview. I said, “Diane, you'll like hanging out with me, you [won’t] be the tallest girl in the room.” Yeah, I remember that. And about the nail polish.

DS: That's right.

CJ: Yeah, that and about the nail polish. [Diane asked me:] “What are you looking forward to?” [I said:] “Having my nail polish on long enough that it actually chips off.”

DS: That's right. And online, people went online.

CJ: It went viral [with] all these people wearing stuff. But yeah, I chipped this nail off and I was going to send it to you and say, “Hey, guess what? My nail chipped off.”