Vanity Fair Cover Story Writer: Caitlyn Jenner "Has Found Her Soul" but "Nervous" About Criticism
Appearing on 'Today,' 'CBS This Morning' and 'Good Morning America,' Buzz Bissinger reflects on what the woman formerly known as Bruce Jenner is like and what Kris Jenner knew about Bruce's gender issues, and shares his own views on the story.
The writer of Vanity Fair's Caitlyn Jenner cover story, Buzz Bissinger, appeared on all three of the broadcast-network morning shows on Tuesday, where he talked more about his experience getting to know Caitlyn and Bruce Jenner.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist also talked about the internal differences he perceived between the two versions of the Olympic medal-winning track star.
"There’s a joie de vivre to Caitlyn that I never saw as Bruce in the last two months that I saw that Bruce was there," Bissinger said on CBS This Morning.
He added on Today, "Caitlyn has found her soul that really Bruce never had…. She's going to have fun. She was completely isolated, I think, for the last five or six years of his life as Bruce."
Bissinger added that Caitlyn is trying to have a stronger relationship with her children from her first two marriages.
"[Bruce] never had a relationship [with his children]," Bissinger said on Today. "She is going to have bonds…. As Caitlyn, [Jenner and her children] are really trying hard to reconnect. It's not easy. But they are really trying."
As Caitlyn embarks on her new life, Bissinger told CBS This Morning he thinks she is "nervous" about criticism from those who don't understand her transition.
"I think she’s nervous in the sense that she’s told me, there are going to be haters. There are going to be people who you are never, ever going to convert, who are going to wallow in their ignorance, who are going to make fun," Bissinger explained. "We have all read the comments. But she has been gratified by the reaction, first the reaction of her family, all of whom – all the kids, Kardashian, Jenner – have been incredibly supportive. And the outpouring of social media saying, 'Right on, girl, go get 'em, go live your life. We think this is great.' "
Bissinger, who famously wrote the Friday Night Lights book on which the subsequent movie and NBC series were based, elaborated to CBS on why he feels this is the "most remarkable" story he's worked on.
"I saw the last of Bruce for the last few months. You’re literally seeing a man over here, and then overnight, a woman. Look, this is a freaky story," he said. "This is a weird story. We can all be as PC as we want. This doesn’t happen all the time. And so the juxtaposition of those two identities, you have to get used to it. I screw up the pronouns all the time – he, she, she, he. And I know it’s sensitive and important."
Bissinger said something similar on Good Morning America, describing in detail the change from Bruce to Caitlyn he witnessed.
"When I started this story in February it was Bruce. It was the Bruce Jenner I remember: 1976, winning the decathalon, the hero of America," the writer said. "And then literally on March 15, he went in for 10 hours of plastic surgery. And that was the end of Bruce as we know him and now it's Caitlyn."
On GMA, Bissinger added, "This is important culturally, and it's not a story about he became a woman, transgender community — it's about tolerance. Let people be who they want to be — whether it's man, whether it's woman — the way they dress. All of it. I think he is representative of tolerance, and I wish people would understand that."
And he explained how Jenner picked the name "Caitlyn," revealing that she and a close friend both made a list of names and "Caitlyn" was on both.
Bissinger also told Today he believes Kris Jenner when she says she wasn't aware of how serious Bruce's gender issues were.
"I think Bruce downplayed it: 'It was a phase of my life; it's over.' It wasn't over," Bissinger said. "And I think Kris had a sense that whatever's in the past, I can fix it."
On GMA, Bissinger also responded to critics of Jenner's late transition who say it should have happened in the '80s.
"You try coming out in the 1980s. He would have been vilified," he said. "It was 25 years ago…He would have had no work. So he really did have to wait, and he wanted to wait until his two youngest daughters were old enough to understand it."
Watch Bissinger's interviews below.
June 2, 9:58 a.m. This story has been updated with Bissinger's comments on Tuesday's Good Morning America.