Caitlyn Jenner was 65 when she transitioned in 2015 after an almost life-long struggle with gender dysphoria.

After six decades of inner torment and with her marriage to Kris Jenner over, in 2015 the I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here star was finally ready to leave Bruce – as she was previously known – in the past.

"He's lived a lie his whole life about who he is. And I can't do that any longer,” declared Cait.

But it wasn’t the first time she’d tried to transition. In the late 1980s the Olympian locked herself away for six years in a bid to live life fully as a woman by the age of 40.

Caitlyn set herself a goal to transition by the age of 40
Caitlyn set herself a goal to transition by the age of 40

Following her split from second wife Linda Thompson, she moved to a one-bedroom house in the Malibu Hills and began taking hormones. She developed a 36B bust, underwent surgery on her nose and spent two years having agonising electrolysis to remove her beard.

The changes were noticeable and quickly picked up by her kids. Son Brandon, then four, told his mum: “Mommy, we saw Daddy get out of the shower and he’s got boobs.”

For Linda though, the news was no surprise. Before their divorce, Caitlyn had shared her secret, leaving Linda in a state of turmoil.

They tried counselling, but that ground to a halt when the therapist revealed Cait’s condition was a permanent one.

Caitlyn - pictured as Bruce - moved out to Malibu following her divorce from Linda Thompson
Caitlyn - pictured as Bruce - moved out to Malibu following her divorce from Linda Thompson

Linda told Vanity Fair: “[I was told] You can live with him as he transitions and you can have what you might consider a lesbian relationship because, you know, you can stay married to him. You will both be women, but he’s attracted to you. He would like to stay married to you. Or if that doesn’t appeal to you, you can move on.”

After much soul-searching, she chose the second option. “I married a man,” she explained.

“As much as I felt my life and my dream were destroyed and I was going to have to get a divorce, and then my kids, I was going one day to have to explain to them—I thought my pain doesn’t compare to the pain that he’s in. At least I’m comfortable living in my own body.”

Happy families as Linda Thompson and Caitlyn Jenner welcome baby Brody
Happy families as Linda Thompson and Caitlyn Jenner welcome baby Brody

For Caitlyn, those years were her “dark years”. Having made millions following her 1976 decathlon Olympic win, the work and advertising deals had dried up.

She lived as a recluse, staying indoors by day and driving around Los Angeles dressed as a woman by night.

“The gender issues were big at that time. I had ignored them for so long, but I was aging,” she told Vanity Fair.

“I was terrified of being discovered. I was not at a point in my life where I was comfortable with myself.

“‘I don’t want to be this way’ was the bottom line. Who would want to be dealing with all these issues?”

Then at the age of 39, after years of painful procedures she realised she couldn’t do it to her four children.

After abandoning her transition, Caitlyn met Kris Jenner in 1991
After abandoning her transition, Caitlyn met Kris Jenner in 1991

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I'm A Celebrity 2019

“It wasn’t time. The issue wasn’t where it is today. I had just a few minor things done to make me feel better about myself, and I thought I’m going to do this before my 40s – I’m not going to be an old chick. I don’t want to be an old chick. And I got to 39 and I couldn’t do it,” she told the Guardian.

“For six years I had isolated myself in a house, didn’t date, didn’t go out. And I’m thinking, boy, maybe I should get back into the game. I’m just sitting here in this house, rotting away. I just don’t have the guts to do it.”

Instead, she married Kardashian matriarch Kris Jenner, who revived his career and turned them into multi-millionaires.

She became step-parent to Kris’ kids Kourtney, Khloe, Kim and Rob and they welcomed their own daughters Kendall and Kylie before splitting in 2013.

* I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here continues tonight at 9pm on ITV