"If Bruce had told me about his gender issue when we first began getting romantically involved, I would not have married him. Pure and simple." So says Linda Thompson, second wife of Bruce Jenner. Jenner, of course, recently revealed to Diane Sawyer, "I'm a woman." Even so, Thompson says in a nearly 4,300-word piece on Jenner's revelation for the Huffington Post, she's grateful she didn't know, because Jenner gave her two sons, Brandon and Brody. In the piece, she traces their relationship, from their first meeting in 1979 to their wedding in 1981 to the birth of their sons—to the day when Jenner told her, when their children were just 18 months and 3 years old, that he identified as a woman and wanted to start the process of becoming one.
Thompson says she was shocked, and suggested they go to therapy; they started seeing a specialist on gender dysphoria. At the time, "I was pretty ignorant of the fact that being transgender isn't something that can be overcome, fixed, prayed away, exorcised or obliterated by any other arcane notion," she writes. But the therapist told her as much; the marriage ended six months later, and Jenner started taking female hormones and getting electrolysis for hair removal. Brody and Brandon once asked Thompson why "Daddy has boobs," and Thompson said Jenner simply wasn't training anymore and so muscle had turned to fat. She didn't tell her sons the truth until they were adults. She says she's always had empathy for Jenner, and leaves readers with just one thought: "Be kind." Click for her full piece, or read what Kim Kardashian had to say about her stepdad. (Read more Brody Jenner stories.)