Bruce Jenner's Ex-Wife: "I Would Not Have Married Him" If I Knew He Identified as a Woman
Linda Thompson, who married Jenner in 1981, writes that he told her several years after their wedding that he wanted to get gender-confirmation surgery in Europe and return to their sons as their "Aunt Heather."
After Bruce Jenner's much-discussed 20/20 interview on Friday, ex-wife Linda Thompson is sharing her experiences from their time together.
The former Olympic champion came out as transgender during his sit-down with Diane Sawyer, and Thompson has penned an essay for the Huffington Post in which she says she had no idea that he identified as a woman until he told her, years after their wedding.
The pair tied the knot in 1981, following Jenner's divorce from first wife Chrystie Crownover. Jenner and Thompson later had two sons, Brandon and Brody, and when Brandon, their oldest son, was 3, Jenner told Thompson that he was considering traveling to Denmark for gender-confirmation surgery and was mulling the possibility of reintroducing himself to their sons as "Aunt Heather." They tried therapy for six months before divorcing.
"If Bruce had told me about his gender issue when we first began getting romantically involved, I would not have married him," Thompson writes. "Pure and simple. But looking back, I'm so grateful to God, the universe, and Bruce that I didn't know, and that Bruce played the role in my life that he did."
Thompson says she would cover for Jenner when their sons had questions about his body having changed as a result of the female hormones he was taking. "One day, after having spent a little time at Bruce's house, both boys came into the kitchen and said to me, 'Mommy, we saw Daddy getting out of the shower naked, and Daddy has boobs!' " Thompson writes, adding that she claimed to the boys that this was because he wasn't exercising his chest as he used to.
Following his marriage to Kris Kardashian, Jenner would sometimes go several years without attempting to contact Brody and Brandon, including not reaching out on Christmas and skipping Brandon's graduation, according to Thompson. Thompson didn't inform the boys of Jenner's gender dysphoria until Brandon was 31 and Brody was 29, and this knowledge helped them better understand his absences.
"After having harbored his secret, and feeling in my heart and mind that I have protected him through these years, I can now breathe a little easier, knowing he now has found the strength and the courage to fulfill his dream," she continues. "He can finally realize his need to be who he authentically is, who he was born to be. That takes tremendous courage. For that I commend him."