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Former Olympian Bruce Jenner Identifies as a Woman

FILE - Kim Kardashian and Bruce Jenner are pictured heading back to their cars after having lunch in West Hollywood, California, Oct. 21, 2014.

Olympic gold medalist and reality TV star Bruce Jenner said Friday that he identifies as a woman, becoming the most high-profile American to come out as transgender.

The 65-year-old Jenner made the declaration in a wide-ranging interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer, nearly 40 years after his record-breaking Olympic gold-medal win in the decathlon.

When Sawyer asked, "Are you a woman?'' Jenner responded, "Yes, for all intents and purposes, I am a woman.''

"People look at me differently,'' Jenner added. "They can see you as this macho male, but my heart and my soul, and everything that I do in life, it is part of me, that female side is part of me. That's who I am.''

Known to younger generations as the patriarch of reality TV's Kardashian clan, Jenner went on ABC's "20/20'' to put to rest months of speculation that he was transitioning to life as a woman.

"I was not genetically born that way,'' Jenner said. "As of now, I have all the male parts and all that kind of stuff. In a lot of ways we are different, OK? But we still identify as female. And that's very hard for Bruce Jenner to say. Because why? I don't want to disappoint people.''

Although Jenner did not address pronoun preference, Sawyer said that for this interview, Jenner asked that the public use "the familiar 'him' or 'he.'"

Neither Jenner nor his representatives have commented on a transition that has been widely rumored and chronicled in magazine cover stories, including how his famous family was reacting to the transition.

Jenner has six biological children and four stepchildren in the Kardashian family through his ex-wife Kris Jenner, the manager and mother of the stars in E! Entertainment's "Keeping Up with the Kardashians.''

Jenner won the decathlon at the 1976 Summer Olympic Games in Montreal and broke the world record for points in the 10-event competition in which winners are given the unofficial title of "World's Greatest Athlete.''