Perched top top a stool inside new York City’s trump Hotel, 15 floors above central Park, Caitlyn zener is cracking jokes as assistants brush her dark hair and gloss her lips. In in between vogues for a photographer, zener tells a story about being stranded in the Australian jungle because that a survivalist television display years ago, as soon as she was a celebrity well-known by an additional name. “It to be an interesting study in her life, to take whatever away,” states a person who this year stated goodbye come 65 years of living as a man. “Makes you evaluate what you’ve got.”

To the many she already has—a cliff-top residence in Malibu, Calif., one Olympic yellow medal, membership in reality television’s first family—Jenner included a location in 2015: the most famous transgender woman in the world. The one she deserve instantly, the minute the previous “world’s greatest athlete” claimed that us should speak to her Caitlyn. In ~ a once news of even a celebrity’s sex-related orientation often tends to it is in met v a shrug, Jenner’s rare, generation-spanning call made she announcement around her sex identity a an international media event. Roughly 17 million civilization watched Jenner define that she identifies together a mrs in an April interview v Diane Sawyer. Vanity Fair’s website shattered traffic records once a corseted Caitlyn was presented on the magazine’s sheathe in June. The exact same day, zener joined Twitter and had a million followers in four hours—less than it took President Obama come reach the mark. She received numerous supportive messages, consisting of one indigenous the President, in addition to plenty of hate and also mockery.

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Jenner’s rejuvenation as Caitlyn was the many visible high point of a banner year for the transgender community. The Secretary that Defense called the ban on transgender people’s open military organization “outdated” and directed that the policy be reviewed. A measure to include nondiscrimination protections because that LGBT world to the Civil legal rights Act was introduced in congress with practically 200 co-sponsors. And also critically acclaimed shows prefer Transparent that function transgender story lines v respect and also depth have chiseled far at the stigma of being trans. This gains come as the LGBT-rights movement has actually been proceeding at a speed unthinkable just a decade ago. And also this year, spurred on through young people much more eager to difficulty gender stereotypes than any generation before them, it appeared the T was lastly getting the fist advocates have pursued for decades.

Jenner’s story reached red states and also rural communities where it deserve to be harder for transgender civilization to live openly. “We know that hearts space opened more than anything by world understanding that LGBT human being are human being that castle know,” claims Jennifer Finney Boylan, a professor the English at Barnard College and one the the approximated 0.5% of american who are transgender. “Our numbers are small, yet here’s Caitlyn Jenner. Ladies and also gentlemen, we provide you Caitlyn Jenner.”

Yet the headlines about progress can obscure harsh realities. At least 21 transgender women have actually been murdered in America this year, making that the community’s deadliest on record. Transgender human being continue to experience poverty, unemployment, homelessness, family members rejection and harassment at much greater rates 보다 the basic public. Nor is all fist helpful. Some trans people and also their allies concern that increased exposure has offered their major struggle the patina of an overhyped fad.

This burden of hope and angst put the world’s most visible transgender woman in a strange place. When Jenner arrived on the 1976 Olympics, America was in search of a hero, and the decathlete delivered. That job was hard, but the path was clear: operation faster, run higher, litter longer. This ar needs heroes too, and Jenner has insisted that she will “do good” for others by transitioning for this reason publicly. Yet the expectations she faces now are far an ext complicated. She life, through all her fame, money and connections, no resemble those of countless in the community she desires to help. That method she has an extraordinary opportunity to open minds. Yet it presents just as plenty of chances to close them.

America’s Champion Jenner’s decathlon yellow medal in ~ the 1976 Olympics led to the title “world’s best athlete”

Caitlyn zener is mindful of every this. Sit in one armchair after the photo shoot, she seems tired of world pointing out exactly how privileged she is, something she safety a most tape acknowledging and learning about on she E! docuseries, ns Am Cait. The an initial season was filled with Jenner testing out ponytails, do the efforts on dresses and giddily exploring with various other surface trappings of being a woman. But it additionally makes a suggest of maintain the spotlight on much less fortunate transgender people: a sex worker who was stabbed, one aspiring nurse denied a location in school, a teen who cursed suicide, those that will never be able to afford the high-quality medical treatment that zener can. The very first scene shows her in bed in ~ 4:32 a.m., anxious and also unmade. “What a obligation I have actually toward this community,” she says. “I just hope I acquire it right.” The show is Jenner’s possibility to fulfill the human being on her terms, and the transgender friends she features are partly there to prove the they’re world like everyone else. She and also her entourage drink wine, gossip, drive motorbikes, throw snowballs.

Now filming the second season, jenner calls it “our” show: “I don’t want it come be around me. I desire this display to be about all these story that space out there, the people, the hardship.” if she will certainly not apologize for having actually “worked very hard” and also being precious millions, zener is careful to it is in unassuming. “I am not a spokesperson for the infectious diseases worldwide community,” she says. “I am a spokesperson because that my story, and also that’s all I deserve to tell. And also hopefully by telling my story, I deserve to make human being think.”

That story begins about 40 miles north the the trumped Hotel in the little suburban new York town of mountain Kisco. That’s whereby Mr. And Mrs. Jenner invited a healthy and balanced baby boy to their family, one who would prove to have a gift for sports and a gnawing confusion about identity. “I have struggled with identity all my life. The not like something that simply happened last week,” zener says. “When ns was 8 years old, ns was running into my mom’s closet. Nobody would certainly know. Ns was additionally very great at hiding it.” Jenner ongoing to hide she feelings (someznjke.coms by wearing women’s underwear under men’s suits) as the high institution athletic star ended up being a university football player and also then a decathlete bound for the 1976 Olympics.

The Montreal gamings came at a life The U.S. To be still reeling from the Vietnam War. Cold battle tensions were rising. The ahead Summer gamings in Munich had actually been jolted by the massacre the 11 members that the Israeli Olympic delegation. “People were looking for a positive, all-American story,” states Olympic chronicler David Wallechinsky.

The decathlon grew out the the old Olympic pentathlon, who champions were watched as icons of Greek masculinity, their bodies sculpted in marble and their feats praised through Aristotle. The modern-day decathlon winner is known as the “world’s greatest athlete,” a title jenner earned by beating Soviet and East German foes. The gold medal—and the success pose later enshrined ~ above a Wheaties box—made jenner a handsome, wholesome family icon. “It’s immortality,” states gold-medal swimmer Nancy Hogshead-Makar. “You are part of something that is bigger than yourself the is about human excellence. Bruce jenner was one A‑list Olympian.”

Looking back on that, zener sees the experience partly as an attempt to operation away from questions around gender identification that she wasn’t all set to face. She defines the triumphant win as, in part ways, “a big dead end.” ~ that, there was no maintain to fill the days, no goal to smother various other anxieties.

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Hollywood helped. Jenner’s Olympic fame led to a string of film and TV appearances. There to be a gig endorsing Tropicana juice, followed by years of stints on speak shows and reality programs. Two marriages brought four children and two divorces. Then came the 1991 union come Kris Kardashian, adhered to by the present that would catapult Jenner earlier to the red carpet. Through keeping Up through the Kardashians, Jenner ended up being a fixture on screens across America, this together a father and stepdad come Kylie, Kendall, Khloé, Kim, Kourtney and Rob. “For the younger generation, ns remember one child who said, ‘You median Kylie’s dad was an athlete?’” Jenner states with a cackle.

Reality TV may have given Jenner brand-new relevance to millennials, yet the athletic fame remains powerful currency. Nicole Modjeski, a 45-year-old transgender woman from Mississippi, was rejected years ago by her conservative Christian mother and brother as soon as she came out come them. They said she was sinning and also going to hell. “Then once the Caitlyn jenner interview came out, for the an initial, lock understood,” Modjeski says. Her brothers apologized. Her mother took her shopping for makeup and also started reading about the community’s harrowing 41% attempted-suicide rate. “That’s the kind of thing we’re never ever going to have the ability to measure,” claims Mara Keisling, the executive, management director the the National center for Transgender Equality, the Jenner’s coming-out. “The educational minute that that creates.”