Bruce Jenner's ex-wife writes about their marriage and the moment Bruce told her he identified as a woman.

“I was also empathetic to, and mourned for, the pain that Bruce had experienced every day of his life.”

After Bruce Jenner‘s explosive interview with Diane Sawyer on Friday, his ex-wife Linda Thompson has written a thoughtful and compassionate op-ed for the Huffington Post about their marriage.

More: The nine most moving moments from the Bruce Jenner interview.

The couple were married from 1981 to 1986 after he split with his first wife and the mother of his eldest two children Chrystie Crownover.

In the piece, she emphasizes her sympathy for the struggle her ex-husband went through, despite her own agony over the split.

In detail: The Bruce Jenner interview the world is talking about.

“I was also empathetic to, and mourned for, the pain that Bruce had experienced every day of his life,” she wrote.

Bruce Jenner during his 20/20 interview with Diane Sawyer.

Thompson says that her first glimpse of her future husband was on television in 1976 at the Montreal Olympics, from the comfort of a bed she was sharing with none other than Elvis Presley.

More: How the world responded to the Bruce Jenner interview.

They were both impressed with Jenner, who was, Thompson says, “an amazing speciman of a man.”

She met him three years later at the Playboy Mansion where he’d been living since his separation from his first wife.

Thompson was a fledgling actress who’d been invited to award trophies for a tennis tournament being held to benefit a children’s charity; Jenner won the tournament.

Linda Thompson with Elvis Presley before her marriage to Bruce Jenner. Image via Instagram

The “sweet, shy and very gentlemanly” Jenner was supposed to go home and change before dinner, but refused to leave Thompson alone with the other men at the Mansion who he said were “just waiting for me to leave so they can hit on you.”

They went on to marry, and at that time, she writes, Jenner was “easy going, down-to-earth, casual, romantic, good and loving”.

She writes that if Jenner had been open with her about his gender dysphoria from the start, she would never have married him.

“I was extremely happy to have found such a remarkable partner with whom to share my life. I found him to be honorable and, well, just too good to be true. Just too good to be true indeed,” she writes on HuffPost.

For a time, they were a happy couple, Thompson writes, and they were often snapped looking glamorous on red carpets and were renowned philanthropists.

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Bruce Jenner was a “manly man” says Linda Thompson. Image via Getty Images.

Jenner was, she says, seemingly very comfortable in his own skin.

The couple had two sons, Brandon and Brody and the family, Thompson thought, was complete.

“I had a wonderful husband, who was the most athletic, high-spirited, energetic, easygoing, manly man imaginable,” Thompson wrote.

When the two boys were still young, aged three and 18 months, Jenner confessed to Thompson that he identified as a woman, she wrote.

Thompson was baffled, not even sure what “identifying as a woman” really meant.

Jenner left her in no doubt.

“I have lived in the wrong skin, the wrong body, my whole life. It is a living hell for me, and I really feel that I would like to move forward with the process of becoming a woman, the woman I have always been inside,” Thompson says Jenner told her.

Linda Thompson with her two sons from her marriage with Bruce Jenner, Brody and Brandon. Image via Instagram

She was, she says, pretty ignorant, along with most of the rest of the world, about Jenner’s gender dysphoria. She thought perhaps Jenner’s issue could be overcome or “fixed”.

After a few sessions with a therapist who specialised in gender dysphoria, though, Thompson knew her marriage to Bruce Jenner was over.

The therapist told her she could either divorce him and move on, or stay with him after he became a she.

Jenner was planning to have gender reassignment surgery in Denmark and return home a woman. He didn’t know how to explain it to his children, suggesting he return to their lives under the guise of “Aunt Heather”.

Thompson was heartbroken but could not remain in her marriage. “Being married to a woman was not what I had envisioned for my life,” she writes.

“Bruce began to grow breasts as a result of the female hormones he was injecting. My life, my psyche, my femininity, my sexuality, my sanity was in a state of upheaval.”


The little boys noticed his changing body after spending a day at their father’s house and Thompson began trying to protect her kids from the truth.

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Bruce Jenner pictured with sons Brody and Brandon Jenner. Image via Getty Images

Jenner got a nose job and had his Adam’s apple trimmed, writes Thompson, and had all his facial and body hair removed by painful electrolysis.

He kept dating though, and as we all know, eventually married Kris Kardashian.

She didn’t breathe a word of Jenner’s gender dysphoria for many years. Eventually she told her two sons when they were 31 and 29 years old, respectively.

She says Jenner was a sporadic presence in the boy’s lives after he married Kris Jenner, but that now they know his secret, it’s helped them understand why. He didn’t attend graduations or send birthday cards. He didn’t call for years.

Bruce Jenner with his children and step-children from his marriage to Kris Jenner.

Thompson says that now Jenner has finally been open about who he really is, she too can breathe easier that she doesn’t have to harbour such a secret any longer.

“Bruce has already gone through the fire,” suffered unfathomable discomfort and pain, been held prisoner in his own flesh. It is certainly not our place to judge him or others who may feel trapped, ostracized, or alone,” she writes.

Read more: Transgender advocates aren’t all ready to label Bruce Jenner ‘brave’ just yet.

She ends the piece with a simple plea: “Be kind. Be kind. Be kind.”

Editor’s Note: Per Jenner’s stated preference, Bustle will continue referring to Jenner using he/his pronouns for the time being. We will follow his lead and make any changes to this policy as needed in the future.