'I'm a woman': US Olympic hero Bruce Jenner comes out as transgender

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - US Olympic champion turned reality TV star Bruce Jenner came out as transgender on Friday, saying: "For all intents and purposes, I'm a woman."

In a highly-anticipated TV interview the 65-year-old said he had wrestled with his sexual identity since he was small.

"I've always been confused about my gender identity since I was this big," he told ABC's celebrity interviewer Diane Sawyer.

"Here I am, stuck - and I hate the word - (a) girl stuck in a guy's body. I hate that terminology."

Asked point blank if he was a woman, Jenner said: "Yes. For all intents and purposes, I'm a woman. People look at me differently."

Speculation that the actor, race-car enthusiast and 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics decathlon gold medalist was undergoing a sex change has been rich fodder for supermarket tabloids for months.

Supposed telltale signs, based on paparazzi photos from the streets of Los Angeles, include shaved limbs, long hair worn in a ponytail and what appears to be a sports bra under a T-shirt.

Born outside New York in October 1949, thrice-married Jenner became an American sports hero when he set a world record with his Montreal decathlon victory.

Leveraging his fame, he appeared on boxes of Wheaties, a popular American cereal known as "the breakfast of champions", then tried his hand as a movie actor, with less than stellar results.

But it was through his marriage to the former Kris Kardashian that he once again became a household name in Keeping Up With The Kardashians in which he appeared as the sometimes bemused stepfather of her flamboyant daughters Kourtney, Kim and Khloe.

He and Kris Kardashian have two daughters of their own, but they obtained a divorce in December, 14 months after separating - although he has been seen still wearing a wedding ring.