What a difference nine months makes.
That was my initial thought when Caitlyn Jenner went before the nation’s television critics nine months after her emotional interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer about coming out as a transgender.
Promoting the second season of her E! reality documentary series “I Am Cait,” Jenner seemed to be in a totally different place than she was during the Sawyer interview in more ways than one.
She was comfortable. Funny. Happy. Reflective.
It helped that she sat with a support group that included the transgender women who co-star in the series and have become her new best friends in her second ride on the fame train.
“Honestly, I really I have never sought fame and all of that kind of stuff,” said Jenner. “That’s just not me. The only thing that I have struggled my whole life is finding inner peace. I have found that.”
Viewers are expected to see that when the cable series returns at 9 p.m. Sunday with new episodes that focus on a road trip across America that Jenner takes with her co-stars.
Andrea Metz, the show’s executive producer, added there will be more of the Kardashians and Jenner’s ex-wife Kris Jenner in season two.
“I think family dynamics in this situation with transitioning with Cait, the whole family is transitioning,” said Metz. “You are going to see a lot more of the Kardashians and Cait’s ever-changing relationship with all of the kids and with Kris.”
If the episodes are as entertaining as the press conference for the series, viewers will be very fortunate.
Admittedly, some of the questions from the media were a little fawning.
“Caitlyn, you always look so fantastic,” said one writer, before asking what she does to stay in good shape and “keep your skin so nice.”
“Eat your Wheaties,” cracked Jenner, a joke about her former life as Bruce Jenner on a cereal box after winning the men’s decathlon title in the 1976 Olympics.
“I don’t really exercise like I used to,” she continued. “I live out in Malibu, and I’ve got mountain trails forever. I go for morning walks. I try to eat properly, the best I can anyway. And I just should stay away from the Starbucks a little more. That’s about it.”
A critic wouldn’t let Jenner stay away from politics, asking why she remains a Republican. It’s a continuing question after a report Thursday that Jenner suggested she become a trans ambassador for presidential candidate Ted Cruz, who has been strongly against LGBT rights. That suggestion might have struck many people as odd, but it is in keeping with Jenner’s philosophy of trying to change people’s minds from within.
“Isn’t it good that they have an ally, somebody on the team that can go in there and maybe change their minds?" said Jenner. "That’s a good thing. That’s kind of the way I look at it.”
She and her co-stars did more traveling across America than presidential candidates during their cross country trip. They said they had one difficult moment, but generally everyone treated them well.
“People all over the United States, be it gay or straight, come up to Caitlyn and want to talk to her and want a picture, and so it’s kind of amazing because she’s bridging the communities together in that way,” said co-star Candis Cayne.
Jenner repeatedly referred to co-stars Cayne, Boylan, Chandi Moore and 18-year-old newcomer Ella Giselle as her “girls.” They are her new best friends.
“These are my dearest, closest friends that have kind of taken me under their wing and helped me out along this road,” she said. “Transitioning is not easy, especially if you do it in the public’s eye…. I’ve learned a lot from them. I love them to death.”
She added she still has her old friends, with her Rolodex tripling since she came out.
“To be honest with you, for almost my entire life, I never really liked going out. I never really felt like I fit in anywhere,” said Jenner. “I was always kind of more of a loner. Now, after transitioning, I actually really enjoy going out. I really do… And now I’m just very comfortable with myself, and I really actually enjoy a social life.”
Her comfort level didn’t yet include giving any advice to every girl in the world. .
“That’s a tough one,” said Jenner. “I haven’t been a girl long enough to really know. I’ve only been out for about nine months.”
Metz then recalled a conversation Jenner had with her daughters, Kendall and Kylie, during the season.
“Kate Bornstein, who is on the show, has been involved in this community for over 30 years,” explained Jenner. “I first had my little Kendall sitting down there, and Kylie. And she looked at them, and she said to them, like I could ask all of the women in this world room right now, ‘When did you know you were a girl?’ … And they kind of both sat down back, and they said, ‘I don’t know. Nobody has ever asked me that question.’ And so they sat there, and their minds, you could just tell they are thinking about this question, ‘When did I know I was a girl?’ After a minute or so, I thought to myself, do you know what? That was probably one of the most interesting questions anybody could ever ask. Why? Because that was the first time they thought about gender and about who they are as a person.
“Okay? It’s not about sexuality. It’s not about anything. It’s just about your gender, who you are. You are a girl. And I tried to explain to them that that goes through a trans person’s mind 24 hours a day, 365 days out of the year. You can never get away from it. It’s not like you can take two aspirin and get plenty of sleep, and you are going to be fine. You come back the next day, and you are fine. That’s something that goes through all of our heads every day.”
“So my advice to young women is to just enjoy life. Enjoy being a girl. Enjoy being a trans man. If the question is ‘When did I know I was a boy?’ that’s a whole other set of circumstances. So, yes, the trans issues are out there, and we are trying to bring them forward. And to be honest with you, mostly, it’s all young people. I take 50 selfies a day with primarily young women and young boys. The next group of people coming up, I think, really have a different look at this, at what we are doing here.”
Jenner said it is her goal to use her celebrity to make things better “for the next generation of trans people.”
“I have been very blessed… I am the exception to the rule. I am not the rule in coming out. I’ve seen nothing but love. People every day of my life come up and thank me… So I’ve been very, very blessed, but I know it’s not that way for so many people in this community.”