"Jenner was really a prisoner of her own house": Vanity Fair writer opens up about "Call Me Caitlyn"

Contributing editor Buzz Bissinger spoke about penning the groundbreaking Caitlyn Jenner cover story

Published June 4, 2015 4:52PM (EDT)

             (Vanity Fair/Annie Leibowitz)
(Vanity Fair/Annie Leibowitz)

Buzz Bissinger, the contributing editor who wrote Vanity Fair’s upcoming cover-story about Caitlyn Jenner, who recently came out as a transgender woman after living as a man for 65 years, spoke to the magazine about the challenges behind writing the story, as well as his pride in being part of something so momentous. As Bissinger put it, "this is an unforgettable story—to be really a part of history. I mean that..... this story goes beyond 'career.' I feel like I was part of something in which a single person can maybe change the world. To have any part in that is very, very cool and immensely gratifying."

Bissinger says that he spent about three and a half months working on the story, during which time he came to realize that "the input of Jenner children in particular was really important." As he explains, "Bruce was not perfect. Nobody is perfect, and he isn’t and he created feelings that these kids still have today. You know, he really, really hurt them. I felt like it had to be noted, but without vitriol and without taking sides. There is no question that they are scarred, but there is also no question that Caitlyn is reaching out to them in a way that Bruce never did.”

Explaining that he connected with Jenner over both sports (Bissinger wrote "Friday Night Lights") and gender issues (Bissinger has cross-dressed and says he is attracted to women's clothing), the writer talks about the struggles he witnessed Jenner face as she went through the transition proces. "The one thing is that, both when I saw him as Bruce and her as Caitlyn, Jenner was really a prisoner of her own house," Bissinger said. "At Starbucks, there were the paparazzi, and there were people taking pictures, and there were people laughing, and there were also people who were supportive. But it was hard. I went to church with Bruce—a non-denominational church near Westlake, I could tell it was a sanctuary. It was a place to be relaxed, to not have talk to anyone and not have anyone stare.”

Bissinger adds that he has spoken to Jenner since the cover came out, and that while he doesn't know whether she has ventured out yet, she is "now free." As he puts it: "She can do whatever the hell she wants and does not really care about the paparazzi. She said to me, 'When the paparazzi hassle me, I’m just going to tell them, Boys, make sure it’s a good shot.’”

"She is happy, over the moon, but more important, I think she is shocked by the overwhelming reaction and I think it has caused Caitlyn to realize that she has a greater responsibility than just crafting an entertaining show," Bissinger said. "She can do something really, really powerful. And permanent and timeless. And I think because of the reaction she really wants to do that as much as possible within the context of a reality show. It is about ratings. It is about entertainment. But I think there is going to be an attempt to balance the serious issues with the fun issues. But that remains to be seen."

By Anna Silman

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Bruce Jenner Buzz Bissinger Journalism Kaitlyn Jenner Vanity Fair