Caitlyn Jenner has been an American hero since she took home a gold medal at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, but to the current generation, she's best known for her unbelievable strides in bringing the subject of gender identity to the mainstream. With her debut Vanity Fair editorial, her E! docu-series "I Am Cait," and, most recently, her Sports Illustrated cover, Jenner has openly shared the story of her internal struggle — and has finally been embraced by the public as the woman she's been all along.
Ahead of the Summer Olympics in Rio, Jenner sat down with H&M (she's the face of the Swedish retailer's H&M Sport line) to discuss her life's greatest victories, of which there were many. She admits that she had issues with her gender since she was in the fifth grade, but was fortunate to find something that took her mind off of it, since she felt she couldn't tell a soul. "Sports was always this wonderful diversion from myself, and about who I was," she said.
In 1984, Jenner visited a gender clinic for the first time to talk about what was going on in her head, and she finally felt understood. She wanted to transition by the time she was 40 — but when that milestone arrived, she couldn't bring herself to go any further. Fast forward through the next few decades seemingly infinite seasons of "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" — she credits Kris Jenner for bringing her back to life after a very low point, and calls her children her proudest accomplishments — she decided to go public in 2015 with the Annie Leibovitz spread in Vanity Fair.
"I looked in the mirror and I thought to myself, 'This is the first time I've ever seen myself,'" she said. "This person who has lived inside me all my life, there she was for the first time." Jenner admits that the media attention blew her away ("This Caitlyn character's a lot more interesting," she laughed), but more than anything, it's given her the ultimate freedom. "That's the greatest victory of them all: To wake up in the morning and to just be yourself."
Watch the interview in full above.