How Caitlyn Jenner is secretly fighting Trump’s White House on transgender rights

Caitlyn Jenner lives on the outer edges of Malibu, up a winding, tree-lined road leading to a modern mountaintop home. Her yellow Labrador, Bertha, happily skips across the white tile floors of her living room. The kitchen is pristine, with a refrigerator stocked with bottles of water and a counter holding a platter of chocolate-chip cookies and a bowl of M&Ms.

The world’s most famous transgender woman has retreated from the public spotlight that once engulfed her and the hounding paparazzi who once tracked her every move. In her first lengthy sit-down magazine interview in more than a year, Jenner speaks with Variety about her conscious choice to focus, unheralded, on being a behind-the-scenes advocate for transgender rights on Capitol Hill.

“I don’t do a lot of media. I don’t want to be seen everywhere,” the 68-year-old Jenner says on a recent afternoon, her bare feet up on a lounge chair. “Today, I’m very politically involved. Nobody really knows it. I do it very quietly because I have been so criticized by the liberal side of the media. I can get more things done if I don’t stick my nose into everything publicly.”

Jenner’s low-key lifestyle and muted public profile stand in sharp contrast to the days when her much-talked-about 2015 interview with Diane Sawyer, in which she revealed plans to transition from a man to a woman, attracted a staggering 17 million viewers. Next came the cover of Vanity Fair and her own reality TV show, “I Am Cait.”

Her newfound fame put enormous pressure on Jenner — who had lived the first 65 years of her life as Olympic gold medal-winning decathlete Bruce Jenner — to be the perfect transgender role model. She had difficulty living up to those expectations, especially after coming out as something more controversial than being transgender: a Republican in Hollywood. On her reality show, Jenner expressed support for Ted Cruz and sparred with activists, who were as experienced in trans-politics as she was unversed. She voted for Trump in the 2016 election (but is no longer a fan).

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Caitlyn Jenner out and about
VIENNA, AUSTRIA - JUNE 01: Life Ball guest Caitlyn Jenner arrives on the Life Ball plane on June 1, 2018 in Vienna, Austria. The Life Ball, an annual charity event raising funds for HIV & AIDS projects, celebrates its 25th anniversary this year at Vienna's City Hall. (Photo by Christian Hofer/Getty Images)
SALZBURG, AUSTRIA - JUNE 01: Caitlyn Jenner poses during the arrival of the Life Ball plane on June 1, 2018 in Salzburg, Austria. The EpicRiders travel from Zurich to Vienna as part of the Life Ball 2018 raising money for amfAR's life-saving research to find a cure for HIV/AIDS. (Photo by Lennart Preiss/Getty Images)
VIENNA, AUSTRIA - JUNE 01: Life Ball guest Caitlyn Jenner arrives on the Life Ball plane on June 1, 2018 in Vienna, Austria. The Life Ball, an annual charity event raising funds for HIV & AIDS projects, celebrates its 25th anniversary this year at Vienna's City Hall. (Photo by Christian Hofer/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 11: Caitlyn Jenner is seen on December 11, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by PG/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 07: Caitlyn Jenner attends the 2017 GQ Men of the Year Party at Chateau Marmont on December 7, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for GQ)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 10: Caitlyn Jenner appears on 'The Late Late Show' on November 10, 2017 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Phillip Massey/GC Images)
LISBON, PORTUGAL - NOVEMBER 09: Caitlyn Jenner, Olympian and Advocate of Transgender Rights, speaks on 'Who defines gender?' during the final day of Web Summit in Altice Arena on November 09, 2017 in Lisbon, Portugal. Web Summit (originally Dublin Web Summit) is a technology conference held annually since 2009. The company was founded by Paddy Cosgrave, David Kelly and Daire Hickey. The topic of the conference is centered on internet technology and attendees range from Fortune 500 companies to smaller tech companies. This contains a mix of CEOs and founders of tech start ups together with a range of people from across the global technology industry, as well as related industries. This year's edition, starting on November 06, is the second to be held in Lisbon and will congregate almost 60,000 participants. (Photo by Horacio Villalobos - Corbis/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 02: Caitlyn Jenner is seen on September 2, 2017 in Los Angeles, California (Photo by SMXRF/Star Max/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 01: Television personality Caitlyn Jenner attends WORLDZ Cultural Marketing Summit at Hollywood and Highland on August 1, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images for PTTOW!)
JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE - 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' airs every weeknight at 11:35 p.m. EST and features a diverse lineup of guests that includes celebrities, athletes, musical acts, comedians and human-interest subjects, along with comedy bits and a house band. The guests for Tuesday, July 18 included Caitlyn Jenner (Book, 'Secrets of My Life'), Finn Wittrock ('Landline') and musical guest Brett Young. (Randy Holmes/ABC via Getty Images) CAITLYN JENNER
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 14: Caitlyn Jenner at The View on July 14, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Jackson Lee/GC Images)
THE VIEW - Caitlyn Jenner guest co-hosts and Mischa Barton is the guest today, Friday, July 14, 2017 on ABC's 'The View.' 'The View' airs Monday-Friday (11:00 am-12:00 pm, ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Lorenzo Bevilaqua/ABC via Getty Images) CAITLYN JENNER
ST PAUL, MN - JULY 16: Caitlyn Jenner walks the red carpet at the 2017 Starkey Hearing Foundation So the World May Hear Awards Gala at the Saint Paul RiverCentre on July 16, 2017 in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images for Starkey Hearing Foundation)
THE VIEW - Caitlyn Jenner guest co-hosts today, Thursday, July 13, 2017 on ABC's 'The View.' 'The View' airs Monday-Friday (11:00 am-12:00 pm, ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Heidi Gutman/ABC via Getty Images) CAITLYN JENNER
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JUNE 18: Caitlyn Jenner displays her Austin-Healey Sprite and wins an award for 'most fashionable' car at The Rodeo Drive Concours d'Elegance on June 18, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 12: Caitlyn Jenner attends the British LGBT Awards at The Grand Connaught Rooms on May 12, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by David M Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 26: Caitlyn Jenner arrives at The View studios on April 26, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES - MAY 8: Caitlyn Jenner and Michael Weatherly chat with James Corden during 'The Late Late Show with James Corden,' Monday, May 8, 2017 (12:35 PM-1:37 AM ET/PT) On The CBS Television Network. (Photo by Terence Patrick/CBS via Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - APRIL 01: TV personality Caitlyn Jenner (L) and Paris Jackson attend the 28th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in LA at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on April 1, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Todd Williamson/Getty Images for GLAAD)
RANCHO MIRAGE, CA - MARCH 29: Caitlyn Jenner walks across the fairway of the 9th during the ANA Inspiration Pro-Am at Mission Hills Country Club on March 29, 2017 in Rancho Mirage, California. (Photo by Kelly Kline/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 26: Caitlyn Jenner attends the 2017 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted by Graydon Carter at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 26, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by C Flanigan/Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 26: Caitlyn Jenner and Andreja Pejic arrive at the 25th Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation's Oscar viewing party held at The City of West Hollywood Park on February 26, 2017 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 07: Olympic athletes Caitlyn Jenner and Simone Biles attend Life is Good at GOLD MEETS GOLDEN Event at Equinox on January 7, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)
MALIBU, CA - NOVEMBER 19: (L-R) Brandon Jenner, Caitlyn Jenner and Brody Jenner attend the Brandon Jenner Record Release Party For 'Burning Ground' on November 19, 2016 in Malibu, California. (Photo by Earl Gibson III/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 14: TV personality Caitlyn Jenner attends Glamour Women Of The Year 2016 at NeueHouse Hollywood on November 14, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
THOUSAND OAKS, CA - OCTOBER 27: Caitlyn Jenner plays a tee shot during practice for the PGA TOUR Champions PowerShares QQQ Championship at Sherwood Country Club on October 27, 2016 in Thousand Oaks, California. (Photo by Ryan Young/PGA TOUR)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - OCTOBER 24: Caitlyn Jenner attends the screening of Summit Entertainment's 'Hacksaw Ridge' at Samuel Goldwyn Theater on October 24, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 22: Caitlyn Jenner attends the 15th Annual Queen USA Transgender Beauty Pageant at The Theatre at Ace Hotel on October 22, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Vincent Sandoval/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 19: Actress Candis Cayne and TV personality Caitlyn Jenner attend a cocktail reception Benefit for onePULSE Foundation at NeueHouse Hollywood on August 19, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Caitlyn Jenner is seen at LAX on September 14, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by starzfly/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 21: Caitlyn Jenner is seen on July 21, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by BG010/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
Republican transgender rights activist Caitlyn Jenner participates in a Big Tent Brunch organized by the American Unity Fund in Cleveland, Ohio, during the Republican National Convention, on July 20, 2016. / AFP / Ivan Couronne (Photo credit should read IVAN COURONNE/AFP/Getty Images)
MALIBU, CA - JULY 03: Caitlyn Jenner seen out for grocery shopping on July 03, 2016 in Malibu, California. PHOTOGRAPH BY Barcroft Images London-T:+44 207 033 1031 E:hello@barcroftmedia.com - New York-T:+1 212 796 2458 E:hello@barcroftusa.com - New Delhi-T:+91 11 4053 2429 E:hello@barcroftindia.com www.barcroftimages.com (Photo credit should read Barcroft Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 10: Caitlyn Jenner (L) and singer Katy Perry attend the Moschino Spring/Summer 17 Menswear and Women's Resort Collection during MADE LA at L.A. Live Event Deck on June 10, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 10: Caitlyn Jenner is wearing a dress from Moschino seen before the Moschino Fashion Show in the streets of Downtown Los Angeles on June 10, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Timur Emek/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 14: (L-R) Diane Sawyer, Caitlyn Jenner, and David Sloan attend the 27th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York on May 14, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for GLAAD)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 30: Caitlyn Jenner is seen on June 30, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by NCP/Star Max/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 30: Caitlyn Jenner is seen coming out of Patricia Field store in New York City on June 30, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 30: Caitlyn Jenner arrives at Patrica Field store in Soho on June 30, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 29: Caitlyn Jenner is seen in Tribeca on June 29, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Alo Ceballos/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 24: Caitlyn Jenner introduces Boy George and Culture Club at The Greek Theatre on July 24, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Tibrina Hobson/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 24: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Caitlyn Jenner attends Culture Club's performance at the Greek Theatre on July 24, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Nederlander)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 03: Caitlyn Jenner is seen on September 03, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by gotpap/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
PACIFIC PALISADES, CA - SEPTEMBER 12: Caitlyn Jenner attends the 8th Annual Safety Harbor Kids Polo Classic Fundraiser at Will Rogers State Historic Park on September 12, 2015 in Pacific Palisades, California. (Photo by Michael Bezjian/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 03: TV personality and activist Caitlyn Jenner speaks onstage during the Point Foundation's Annual Voices On Point Gala at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza on October 3, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for The Point Foundation)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 27: Caitlyn Jenner attends Logo TV's 'Beautiful As I Want To Be' Web Series Launch Party at The Standard Hotel on October 27, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 27: (L-R) Chandi Moore, Candis Cayne, Caitlyn Jenner and Geena Rocero attend Logo TV's 'Beautiful As I Want To Be' Web Series Launch Party at The Standard Hotel on October 27, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 27: Caitlyn Jenner attends Logo TV's 'Beautiful As I Want To Be' web series launch party at The Standard Hotel on October 27, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 08: Caitlyn Jenner seen leaving 'Therese Raquin' on Broadway in Midtown on November 8, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Robert Kamau/GC Images)
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 08: Caitlyn Jenner seen at the Soho House for dinner on November 08, 2015 in New York, New York. (Photo by Josiah Kamau/BuzzFoto via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 09: Olympic gold medalist Caitlyn Jenner attends Glamour's 25th Anniversary Women Of The Year Awards at Carnegie Hall on November 9, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images)
Caitlyn Jenner speaks to the Chicago House luncheon at the Hilton Chicago on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015. (Nancy Stone/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 04: Caitlyn Jenner Hosts Special Screening Of 'Tangerine' at Landmark Nuart Theatre on January 4, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 14: Tv personality Candis Cayne (L) and executive producer/tv personality Caitlyn Jenner speak onstage during the 'I Am Cait' panel discussion at the NBCUniversal portion of the 2016 Winter TCA Tour at Langham Hotel on January 14, 2016 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
RANCHO PALOS VERDES, CA - FEBRUARY 02: Executive Producer Caitlyn Jenner speaks at the AOL 2016 MAKERS conference at Terranea Resort on February 2, 2016 in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 09: Caitlyn Jenner is seen on the streets of Manhattan on February 9, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Stewart/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 10: Caitlyn Jenner is seen on February 10, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Ignat/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 14: Chris Rock, A. J. Calloway and Caitlyn Jenner attend the 2016 Pre-GRAMMY Gala and Salute to Industry Icons honoring Irving Azoff at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 14, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: TV personality Caitlyn Jenner attends the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 28: TV personality Caitlyn Jenner arrives at the 2016 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Graydon Carter at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 28, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images)
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Her conservatism made her a pariah in the left-leaning entertainment industry, where she’s been criticized for not doing enough to help the transgender community. Jenner spoke candidly with Variety about the pain of that rejection.

“No matter what you say or do, they think you don’t get it because you’re this kind of white, privileged person,” says Jenner. She disputes the notion that she hasn’t worked hard, or that her wealth disqualifies her from being an advocate. “I haven’t turned my back on anybody,” she says. But Jenner has received a cold shoulder from some of her peers: “I’ve felt it big time, and it hurts. Sometimes this community can be really tough.”

Jenner, who briefly considered running for senator, decided she could be more useful fighting for trans rights as a Republican liaison on Capitol Hill. She likens the civil rights battle to what the gay community faced 40 years ago on the road to marriage equality.

Every few weeks, Jenner travels to Washington to tell her story. She’s held long meetings with members of Trump’s White House and roughly 50 members of the House and Senate — to personally make the case for equality.

She’s patiently endured invasive questions about her body and genitalia, all in an effort to change people’s minds.

She says that these meetings are conducted away from the cameras. “I met with Paul Ryan,” she says. “I’ve met with just about everybody. Publicly, they aren’t supportive of transgender rights.” What do they say to her? “I’ve never had anybody not be nice to my face,” says Jenner, who did not want to elaborate on conversations that were confidential.

Margaret Hoover, the president of the American Unity Fund, a Republican-funded group that advocates for LGBTQ rights, says that Jenner is uniquely positioned to educate. “Think of your average Republican in Washington,” Hoover says, noting that the party is getting older and less diverse. “It’s basically like every white friend of your 70-year-old dad. At the 1976 Olympic Games, they were all in the prime of their life, and Bruce Jenner was their hero. They idolized Bruce.” As a result, Jenner has been an effective ambassador. When they hear the word “transgender,” they might imagine a man in a dress. But when they see Caitlyn, they agree that she should use the women’s bathroom.

Jenner was originally hopeful about Trump, given that he promised to make LGBTQ rights part of his platform. But since taking office, he’s stoked fears by rolling back protections in schools and vowing to ban transgender people from the military. Jenner says her message to Trump, whom she met during the campaign but hasn’t spoken with as president, is simple. “Get over it! I honestly don’t know what happened when he got in there. It was extraordinarily disappointing,” she says.

In February 2017, Jenner lashed out against Trump on Twitter for withdrawing federal guidelines that allowed transgender youths to use the bathroom that matched their gender identity. “From one Republican to another, this is a disaster,” she tweeted. “You made a promise to protect the LGBTQ community. Call me.”

Jenner says Trump never reached out. (A source with knowledge of her thinking says Jenner would like to meet with the president after the midterm elections, but not in front of the press.) “He’s not been doing a very good job, but it’s not over yet,” she says.

Jenner believes that the United States should pass a law that allows transgender citizens to enlist in the armed forces. “We need hard-core legislation, laws on the book of equality,” she says, pointing to measures passed by other countries, from Israel to England. “It’s going to take some time, but we’re working on it.”

Jenner wants everyone to know that she’s found happiness. “My life is so simple,” she says. “It’s just to be myself all day. I think people think when you transition, it is this tremendous thing, and now you’re a totally different person. I’m still the same person. Caitlyn lived inside me all my life.”

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Caitlyn Jenner and Sophia Hutchins
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Caitlyn Jenner and Sophia Hutchins
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 18: TV personality Caitlyn Jenner (L) and Sophia Hutchins attend The 2018 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 18, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 18: TV personality Caitlyn Jenner (L) and Sophia Hutchins attend The 2018 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 18, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 18: TV personality Caitlyn Jenner (L) and Sophia Hutchins attend The 2018 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 18, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JUNE 20: Sophia Hutchins (L) and Caitlyn Jenner attend the 2018 Sally Awards at The Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on June 20, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JUNE 20: Sophia Hutchins (L) and Caitlyn Jenner attend the 2018 Sally Awards at The Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on June 20, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JUNE 20: Sophia Hutchins (L) and Caitlyn Jenner attend the 2018 Sally Awards at The Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on June 20, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
VIENNA, AUSTRIA - JUNE 02: Caitlyn Jenner, Sophia Hutchins during the Life Ball 2018 at City Hall on June 2, 2018 in Vienna, Austria. The Life Ball, an annual charity event raising funds for HIV & AIDS projects, celebrates its 25th anniversary this year at Vienna's City Hall. (Photo by Gisela Schober/Getty Images)
VIENNA, AUSTRIA - JUNE 02: Caitlyn Jenner and Sophia Hutchins attend the LIFE+ Solidarity Gala prior to the Life Ball at City Hall on June 2, 2018 in Vienna, Austria. The Life Ball, an annual charity event raising funds for HIV & AIDS projects, celebrates its 25th anniversary this year at Vienna's City Hall. (Photo by Thomas Niedermueller/Life Ball 2018/Getty Images)
VIENNA, AUSTRIA - JUNE 02: Caitlyn Jenner and Sophia Hutchins attend the LIFE+ Solidarity Gala prior to the Life Ball at City Hall on June 2, 2018 in Vienna, Austria. The Life Ball, an annual charity event raising funds for HIV & AIDS projects, celebrates its 25th anniversary this year at Vienna's City Hall. (Photo by Thomas Niedermueller/Life Ball 2018/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 04: (EXCLUSIVE ACCESS, SPECIAL RATES APPLY) Caitlyn Jenner and Sophia Hutchins attend the 2018 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on March 4, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/VF18/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 28: Caitlyn Jenner (L) and Sophia Hutchins at Steven Tyler and Live Nation presents Inaugural Janie's Fund Gala & GRAMMY Viewing Party at Red Studios on January 28, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for Janie's Fund)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JUNE 20: Sophia Hutchins (L) and Caitlyn Jenner attend the 2018 Sally Awards presented by The Salvation Army at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on June 20, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Lester Cohen/Getty Images for the Salvation Army)
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As a member of America’s most notorious reality TV family (“Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” for those of you living under a rock), Jenner gets asked to be photographed a lot in public. “If I’m out, I take a minimum of 30 selfies with people,” she says. “It drives everyone around me crazy.” This isn’t done out of vanity. She’s trying to prove a point. “That may be the first time they’ve met anybody who’s trans,” Jenner says about her interactions with her fans. “I want that to be a pleasurable experience. I want to be nice to people. I want to have a smile on my face. And they walk away and say,  ‘Oh, my God! Caitlyn was so nice.’ That’s the way I want them to think of trans people. That we’re nice.”

She’s disappointed that “I Am Cait” got canceled in 2016. “I wish we could’ve done more,” she says. She regrets talking about politics on the show. “Reality TV loves drama.” She’s certainly dealt with her share of that. The tabloids are reporting that she’s dating a 22-year-old transgender woman named Sophia Hutchins, whom she took to the ESPYs a few weeks ago. Hutchins is at her house on the day of our interview, and she follows us into Jenner’s office to listen to our conversation. Although they sound like a couple — Jenner asks Hutchins for the name of the last great movie they saw together (Hutchins suggests “I, Tonya”) — they deny that they are. “We are not going to get into that,” Jenner says. “But we are very close. We do a lot of things together. We’re kind of inseparable. We’re the best of friends.”

Regardless of the nature of their personal relationship, Hutchins is the executive director of the Caitlyn Jenner Foundation, which was formed last year to advance transgender rights. Jenner auctioned off a Porsche that she owned to raise funds. But her efforts there, too, have been kept under the radar. “Coming from a reality show, where every detail of your life is documented, to not seeking any press is kind of a big change,” Hutchins says. “Caitlyn is not working on these issues for press attention. She’s doing it because she genuinely wants to help the community.”

Jenner hasn’t found it easy to parse the PC rules of transgender politics. For example, she talks about how much she loved “The Danish Girl,” the 2015 biopic starring cisgender actor Eddie Redmayne as the artist Lili Elbe. “I thought it was good to have it out there,” Jenner says. “GLAAD talked to me and said, ‘Don’t mention you even saw the movie!’ And then all the flak came down about Eddie Redmayne doing it. I went to the Vanity Fair Oscar party, and I’m thinking, ‘What if he’s there? I can’t even be seen with him.’ That’s horrible!”

(“GLAAD shared concerns that transgender community members voiced about the film as a courtesy so that Caitlyn would be aware of them,” said a GLAAD rep.)

Before transitioning, she once auditioned for “Superman” and co-starred on TV’s “CHiPs.” She’s open to acting again. She says she’s working on something that would employ an all-transgender cast and crew. “You have to wait and see,” says Jenner, declining to give specifics. She reveals that her fantasy role would be as a comic-book villainess. “In a Marvel movie, I want to play the baddest-ass lady you’ve ever seen in your life. They got the wicked queen or the wicked lady. Just do the makeup and the outfit. And I got the deep voice.”

Jenner, whose autobiography, “The Secrets of My Life,” was published in 2017, sees her 10 kids as often as she can. She concedes that some of them are closer to her than others. She beams at Kylie being on the cover of Forbes as the youngest “self-made” almost billionaire. Although she didn’t attend her son Brody’s June wedding in Indonesia, she’ll see him soon. She’s supportive of her stepdaughter Kim’s recent visit with Trump, in which she convinced him to commute the sentence of a woman serving life in prison for a nonviolent drug offense. “I thought they did the right thing,” Jenner says. “I was very proud of her.” As for her ex-wife Kris, they aren’t as friendly. “We haven’t talked in a long time.”

Jenner could see herself doing another reality TV show — maybe one where she parachutes into parts of the world as a transgender rights explorer. She doesn’t think she’ll appear in future episodes of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.” “At this point, no,” she says. “But you never know.”

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