Sports Illustrated's new double summer issue this year features interviews with star athletes from the past. "Where Are They Now?" the magazine asks, and perhaps the most interesting — and socially relevant — subject to whom the question is posed is Caitlyn Jenner.
Gracing the cover of the special SI issue in a shimmery jumpsuit and her Olympic gold medal, Jenner is the athletic star from decades past, who, as Bruce, became an American hero after winning the Montreal Summer Olympics decathlon in 1976. Today, Jenner is the admittedly imperfect face of America's transgender community, her public transition from male to female augmented by her high profile status as a reality TV star.
"For those two days in July of 1976, I was the best in the world at what I did," says Jenner. "On the other hand, the decathlon was my best friend, and that was over. I lost my beard."
A decathlon victory is no common feat, but "it can sometimes feel insignificant," wrote journalist Tim Layden, who profiled Jenner for the publication.
"Sports. It's not real life," Jenner told Layden. "You go out there, you work hard, you train your ass off, win the Games. I'm very proud of that part of my life. And it's not like I just want to throw it out. It's part of who I am. What I'm dealing with now, this is about who you are as a human being. What did I do for the world in 1976, besides maybe getting a few people to exercise a little bit? I didn't make a difference in the world."
The sporting world has largely been welcoming of Jenner's transition, though the most rotten of the social media comments directed at her expose the bigotry that many transgender people face. (Jenner, it has been noted, may be uniquely shielded from some of its worst effects by the privilege that comes with wealth and fame.)
Today, as Caitlyn, Jenner doesn't disavow Bruce or his success; she is just in a different place entirely as a woman.
"I loved Bruce," she told Layden. "I still love him today. I like what he did and the way he set an example for hard work and dedication. I'm proud of that part of my life. But this woman was living inside me, all my life, and it reached the point where I had to let her live and put Bruce inside. And I am happier, these last 12 months, than I've ever been in my life."