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Credit: Yu Tsai for Sports Illustrated via Instagram

On the 40th anniversary of her gold medal victory at the Montreal 1976 Summer Olympic Games, Caitlyn Jenner returns to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated wearing the gold medal that changed her life and (inadvertently) the lives of countless others.

Despite an egregious subediting error in this first sentence, the significance of her doing so is summed up thusly in the accompanying profile by Tim Laden:

“She does not put the medal around her neck, in public, for the first time since the Olympic Games [sic]. It is a startling pose that delivers two messages. The first lands softly, celebrating an ageing sports hero on the anniversary of a proud moment. The second hits more forcefully, a transgender American, thanking her country for its tolerance, and asking for more. Jenner understands the power of the image. ‘It’s a picture that brings attention to this issue,’ she says. ‘That’s the important thing. That’s why I wore the medal.'”

Laden’s profile describes at length Jenner’s fraught relationship with her catalytic gold medal (“one of the most significant gold medals that any American has won”), which Jenner says she keeps “In [her] nail drawer. That’s what you can say: It was in the nail drawer.”

The piece also canvasses the now historic events of 1976 preceding her victory, the controversies Jenner has encountered during her very public transition over the last year and the progress the international Olympic community is making toward disbanding binary notions of gender.

You can read the full profile here.

Tile and cover image: Sports Illustrated

 

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