There has been serious drama brewing between Caitlyn Jenner and the Kardashians for quite a while.
Since her transition, Caitlyn has been open about the fact that she’s drifted from her stepchildren, and on Keeping Up With the Kardashians we’ve seen both Khloé and Kris fall out with her on numerous occasions.
However, things have escalated since Caitlyn released her autobiography last month, and now the Kardashians appear to have completely cut ties with her.
The main source of contention is Caitlyn’s repeated assertion that Kris was aware of her desire to transition – something Kris vehemently denies.
After reading the book, Kris also claimed that the only positive mention of her was a reference to how she was “great socially at a party once.” Caitlyn maintains that this is untrue, that she was “really nice” about Kris in her book, and that any other interpretation is overlooking her “extraordinary honesty.”
SO, since the book has caused this shit-ton of drama, I decided it was time to sit down, take a look, and show everything Caitlyn says about the Kardashians in it.
But first, it’s important to note that Caitlyn opens the book with this, making clear the content is all her opinion:
This is a book primarily of recollections. I believe them to be true, and I have cross-checked them with various members of my family and friends and what has been written in the past. But they are based to a large degree on my memory, and memory as we all know is selective.
Note also that Caitlyn chose to use male pronouns and the name “Bruce” at certain stages of the book. What you read here are her words reproduced verbatim.
Now let’s get started.
1. On her career fading after the Olympics.
There is a growing sense that by the early to mid 1980s the public, with the media as its conduit, after placing me on Mount Olympus, is now glad to see me gone. It has grown weary of me and is looking for someone else to anoint.
Live by celebrity, die by it.
Unless maybe you are the Kardashians.
2. On being set up with Kris Jenner.
Candace [a close friend] thinks I need a woman: “I have a friend who would be perfect for you. Her name is Kris Kardashian. She is in the process of a divorce and lives in Berverly Hills.” Beverly Hills? Way out of my league. I’m not interested. [First and second wives] Chrystie and Linda were both down-to-earth, a quality that attracted me to them and was similar to myself. A woman from Beverly Hills strikes me as the very opposite, most days spent shopping in the fashionable boutiques and brand-name stores that rim Rodeo Drive. Kris is also in the process of a divorce and the last thing I need is somebody coming out of the divorce, given my own track record. Candace now tends to agree: “She has four children. It would never work.”
The wheels click in my mind:
She has four children.
I have four children.
That’s eight kids.
Kris has the same amount of baggage that I do.
Now I really am interested.
Kris brings along her nanny, which is open to many interpretations, none of them good. The first time I see her [at a party] she is in a white pantsuit. She looks great. We mix into the crowd. I know a lot of people there in the way that men know a lot of people, which is to say we don’t know anyone at all and float off once the sports talk is exhausted. Kris knows everybody and everybody knows her. They are much more happy to see her than me. I have never met anyone this effortlessly social.
We got out to dinner afterward…Kris knows a lot of people there as well, but once again she doesn’t work the room: she really knows these people. It reminds me there is an entire world out there that I knew existed but never felt comfortable with. But I am still not entirely hooked.
Right before we leave Kris applies pencil outliner on her lips. She doesn’t even use a mirror. She just goes zip zip zip. It’s perfect…Now I’m hooked.
4. On falling for Kris.
I have been in a rat hole the last six years. But I can feel Kris bringing me out of that even after our first few dates. Whatever the differences that developed between Kris and me later on, and there were big ones at the end, she saved me at this point in my life, just like sports had saved me as a young child.
Kris and I start going out. I have a dinner scheduled one night with a producer acquaintance I know and bring Kris along. Since he is in the business it is one of his job requirements to act as if he knows everyone in the business. He is showing off a little but, another job requirement. But every time he mentions someone, Kris says she not only knows her or him but also the entire family, without trying to show off in the least. Finally flummoxed, the producer turns to her in the middle of dinner and says: “Who are you?” To which Kris says something so uncharacteristic of her today that it seems hard to believe she said it, but she did, because I was there: “I’m just a mom in Beverly Hills.”
Right at that moment I see qualities in Kris that will serve her extraordinarily well and make her somebody one day – the way she deals with people and takes charge without them even knowing it, the habit of sending flowers or some other gift after a meeting. A combination of charm and professional intelligence, knowing that remembering a birthday goes a long way because of the attentiveness and thoughtfulness it implies. She is everything I am not. I am not confident. I am not comfortable in my own skin. I am not social. I am lousy at giving gifts.
I fall in love with Kris quickly. She falls in love with me quickly. Love is at the crux of us. But I believe, and this is my opinion and my opinion only, we both want something from each other. I know I do. Kris restores my credibility. She helps to restore the image of Bruce. I also believe, and once again this is my opinion only, that Kris gets something from me. Her divorce from Robert Kardashian had been ugly. Kris had married when she was 22. She told me there was just much more life she wanted to live. She had been involved in an affair with a man in his twenties..but close friends of the couple were still shocked when she left. They could not understand why she was willing to give up the Beverly Hills lifestyle. They could not understand how she could cause such tumult to her children. They all loved Robert because there was a great deal to love about Robert – an incredible father, a man of decency, who encouraged my role as stepfather as long as I always remembered that he was the father.
As in many difficult divorces, I believe that Robert wanted Kris to realise she had made a terrible mistake and end up in some crappy apartment in the Valley. It didn’t happen that way. We made a glamorous couple, clearly in love. We began to have successes in business as a team. I was well known. So sometimes I wondered if Kris was making a statement to her former husband: a big fuck you.
7. On sex with Kris.
Since – let’s not kid ourselves – everyone wants to know, Kris and I have good and frequent sex at the beginning. It is imbued with affection and love, but my attitude is no different than it was in high school: I’m just not entirely comfortable with it. Sex, to be sustained in a relationship, requires emotional tools that I simply do not possess because of fear of expressing emotion, to the point where it ultimately became easier to have it only sporadically and then not have it. It means giving, and while I believe I am better now, I have never been good at it.
I am not quite sure where to start in resurrecting my career, but Kris knows exactly. She views it as still one of untapped potential that has been allowed to wilt. All it needs is someone to take control, and Kris will be that someone. She looks at the team that has been managing me…Kris concludes that they all have to go and go quickly, because nothing has happened for quite some time. I come to the same conclusion, but the bonds of loyalty and the hatred of confrontation makes it impossible for me to sever the relationships. Kris has no such qualms. I like strong women, and Kris is the strongest of the strongest. Kris streamlines the business. She starts making hundreds of calls to corporations extolling my speaking skills…she also sees potential in the licensing of my name on reputable exercise equipment, using as promotion the then ridiculously cheap infomercial at $500 for a half hour.
It really is a partnership of equals – I am the product and Kris is the agent and manager and negotiator. She is indefatigable and also undaunted: If someone says no, she doesn’t get discouraged or take it personally, but simply believes that she was talking to the wrong person. And trust me on this, she will find the right person, no matter how long it takes.
9. This is what Caitlyn claims she told Kris about her gender dysphoria.
I did tell Kris I was gender dysphoric. But given my decision roughly a year earlier not to transition, I was determined to never pursue such a path again, applying instead the same willpower and discipline of mind as I had when training for the decathlon. I tell Kris about my gender issues before I make love to her. I don’t tell her the full extent – that Trudy Hill [Caitlyn’s therapist] has said unequivocally that my condition would never change and the only thing I could do was somehow try to live with it on my own terms. But I tell her a great deal. Maybe the fact we had healthy sex at the beginning, as well as my love of such “macho” activities as skiing and car racing, did indicate to her that my so-called maleness was intact. Maybe she thought that whatever gender issues I had, she could change me.
This will always be a subject of dispute between Kris and me as to how much she could intuit about my gender issues. She insists that she was taken by surprise by my ultimate transition to Caitlyn, which obviously means in her mind that she did not know enough. On Keeping Up With The Kardashians she shed copious tears in coming to grips with it. Given what she saw, the whole reaction seemed a little puzzling then and seems puzzling now.
All I know is what I know.
I told her there had been a woman inside me all my life. I told her I dressed as a woman, and she knew I did, because I did it several times in front of her after we were married. I don’t know how much I elaborated on the electrolysis to remove the hair from my face and chest, but I would say it was pretty self-evident.
I also told her I had been in hormone therapy for roughly the past four and a half years before stopping six months earlier. It was obvious the effect the hormones had caused something – two somethings to be exact. To me they were the development of breasts, size 36B. To Kris they were man boobs caused by my being out of shape. I was out of shape, but not out of shape enough in my mind to cause size 36B man boobs. In my mind, she must have known what they were, which would indicate someone very confused about gender. So, for me, the idea that she was later shocked by my transition is equally shocking to me. It implies that I left her in the dark about the severity of my struggles. At least to me it does. Let’s leave it at that.
10. This is what Caitlyn claims they negotiated in relation to her gender dysphoria.
Kris and I talk. She is willing to see what it feels like. So the first time I dress up in front of her, she seems comfortable. But I am the one who is uncomfortable. I get the feeling that Kris is willing to let me cross-dress on certain occasions only because this is what I want. She has no real interest, and it’s kind of ridiculous of me to think that she would. She doesn’t want to see it or deal with it, so we never talk about it. Why would she? She fell for Bruce Jenner, not some porcelain doll knock off. So I stop after a few times. It is easier and causes fewer problems. In the past, I secretly bought how-to books [about makeup] since there was no one to help me. I keep the books, along with my meager collection of clothing, in a small closet with a lock and key in back of my own closet. Kris and I have negotiated this, since she is terrified, as I am, of one of the kids finding something.Eventually Kris and I do reach an understanding – take Caitlyn on the road – but she is not to play in our home or hometown. End of discussion.
Under our own roof we now have six children, five daughters and a son. The house is awash in puberty and adolescence and young adulthood and two parents with very different styles. It seems to me something is there for television. Kris says she is the one who came up with the idea and decided to actively pitch it to Ryan Seacrest…A meeting is held with him and he loves the concept. The next step is to meet with the E! Network’s vice president of original programming, Lisa Berger. She is not so in love: “I don’t know if I get it. The only person in the room I know of is Bruce.” Seacrest keeps pushing. In 2007 Berger gives a tepid green light for four episodes, largely because I am in the public eye and maybe that’s a hook.
Everybody in my family has a different personality that is incorporated into the show. I am the well-meaning but confused and helpless father and husband. I get love but very little respect. I’m fine with that, because it is largely accurate. I come across as a slightly doddering patriarch who has no life of his own and is subsumed by the women who surround him and only does what his wife tells him. In other words: a totally true depiction. I rarely watch unless I am actively involved in an episode.
I know that my mother is embarrassed, as are other members of her family. The implication is that I have sold myself out, willingly destroyed what positive reputation I have left. Pretty much on the mark. I still feel weak and inferior. I still have no self-respect. I feel as trapped in the middle between male and female as I ever have been. So maybe it’s only fitting that I am treated on the show like a new version of electrolysis without painkillers: reality-show humiliation. If it seems like Kris intimidates me at times, that’s because she does.
13. On Kris helping repair her relationship with her four children from previous marriages.
As we were courting and I see more and more of Kris’s personality, it is also clear she can also help me fix my relationship with my kids before it is too late. With four kids of her own, Kris knows what it means to be a parent and she seems to relish juggling eight young lives into the mix. Kris and I and all the kids are truly one big happy family in the early 1990s. It is a profound moment of my life, the most profound moment. I am a father, a real father, not a pretend one or a preoccupied one or a selfish one, no matter how well meaning. Kris has welcomed Burt and Casey and Brandon and Brody into our lives with loving and gracious arms. Their moms have custody, but they visit regularly. Kris adores my kids as much as I adore her kids, another aspect of our partnership.
14. On Kris “damaging” those relationships.
In the mid 1990s [Caitlyn’s second-wife] Linda files for support payments with the Los Angeles Superior Court. We are initially subpoenaed late at night. Kris is upset, very upset, that her efforts to be a good stepmother are not appreciated. She is no longer inclined to make the effort. She also feels that both Linda and Chrystie [Caitlyn’s first wife,] really don’t want the kids to be with us. Every time she invites them to do something, she feels there is some excuse as to why they can’t come. When asked many years later, the Jenner kids have a very different viewpoint: Kris just did not want them around anymore once we had our own children, fierce in her belief that I had only one family now and that was her and the Kardashians. Linda and Chrystie say they never did anything to stop our kids from spending time with Kris and me. An entire book could be written on who did what to whom without any agreement or resolution. Everybody has a version, including me. None of which matters anyway.
15. On Kris causing a “rupture” between Caitlyn and her sister.
When Kris threw a party to celebrate the 20th anniversary of my Olympic win, Pam [Caitlyn’s sister] was not invited. Neither was my mother (my dad was.) Pam was devastated. Kris had not wanted her there – a reaffirmation that the only family that should matter to me now was her family – and I went along with the decision. It created a terrible rupture between Pam and me. We rarely spoke for almost 20 years.
16. On Robert Kardashian’s friendship with O.J. Simpson.
I always wondered why Robert Kardashian was so aligned with OJ…His defense of OJ was so extreme given Robert’s impeccable character. I wondered if it somehow had something to do with Kris. The divorce still devastated Robert. Everybody knew that. And now Kris, at that point in the 1990s was appearing in hundreds of infomercials with me, looking lean and fit and happy as we promoted our exercise equipment. I wondered if Robert saw all of this and began to think she was becoming something of a celebrity and it ate away at him – until the OJ case, when he became a superstar and completely overshadowed her. All of a sudden he was the one all over TV and I wonder if it was his way of saying to her what I think she was saying to him when she married me: a big fat fuck you.
From a deeply personal standpoint, Keeping Up With the Kardashians is a demarcation for Kris and me. I believe that the more successful it becomes, the less she needs me. I am not the primary breadwinner anymore. I feel increasingly irrelevant. I receive a healthy paycheck for doing the show, and I continue to do speeches, but I never see a dime of it: it all goes right to Kris…I do not have a checking account. I have a credit card, but purchases are carefully poured over. Kris is incredibly generous – on her own terms. She buys me a Porsche after I express interest in getting one but know I can’t. She buys me a membership to the exclusive Sherwood for somewhere around $200,000 so I can play golf. They are amazing gestures, but it is becoming increasingly difficult for me to not to make any financial decisions on my own. The more successful Kardashian Inc, the more obvious it is that Kris wants me out of the house as much as possible, probably because I really do nothing when I am around and it drives her crazy.
18. On the demise of her marriage to Kris.
Kris and I have been married for 20 years. The first 15 or so were good and sometimes great. But the last five have been terrible. I wanted this marriage to work until the last five years when it became acrimonious misery for both of us, a toxic combination of her withering anger with me and my defensiveness and generally being at each other’s throats and the kids asking why their mother yelled at me all the time. It only began to implode when Keeping Up With The Kardashians became a runaway success and Kris was at the helm of a multi-million dollar family franchise in which she controlled all the purse strings.
The challenge for any marriage is that we constantly change as we grow older. For a successful marriage you have to grow together. We didn’t come close. We are at each other’s throats. She is frustrated with me all the time. I am worn down. She yells and then I yell back because I always feel on the defensive. She resents that I never want to leave the house unless it means a hotel room somewhere, that I am content to sit around and watch the History Channel. She resents that I don’t really do anything besides tapings for the show.
I don’t feel like I am living anymore. I need control of my life back. I need control of my finances so I can spend money the way I want to. The house is like a train station, with people in and out, out and in. I have no privacy to do what I want to do when I want to do it. I am tired of taking it out on the road so I can spend an hour and a half to get dressed for 15 minutes of freedom. I want to see my first four children without friction and the fear that it might upset Kris. I am tired of my life consisting of secret items tucked away in a tiny closet with a lock and key.
19. On telling Kim Kardashian about her gender dysphoria in 2013.
Somewhere around 2013, I will talk to Kim about all my issues before any of the other kids. Of all the Kardashians, she is the easiest to talk to and the most empathetic. Several years before transition she will catch me in the garage wearing women’s clothing. Whatever explanation I will give, and I don’t exactly remember, it will be lousy. But she doesn’t bring it up. By 2013 there will be stories about my desire to transition to a woman regularly in the tabloids. So she will come up to me one day in the house where Kris and I will still be living in Hidden Hills: “What the heck is going on with you?” [she asked]
I will sit with Kim in her living room and tell her what is going on inside and the issues that have been with me all of my life. She will mostly listen. It will feel extraordinary to get this off my chest with a family member. I will feel the path has been opened with her for continued conversation, perhaps acknowledgement of my issues and how I am doing.
We talk regularly about almost everything after that but never gender. That bothers me for a long time, that maybe she was not the right person to tell after all. If Kim is uncomfortable, then what about the rest of the world?
From my perspective, I am opening up the golden gate of gender and want Kim to walk through it with me. I even have the idea that we might go shopping together.
Several years later I ask her: “How come I never heard from you?”
“I just didn’t know what to do, if I should talk about it.”
After she says that I understand completely. I am not a distant cousin or uncle. I am Kim’s stepfather telling her I have this relentless urge to look like her step mother. Her silence did hurt me, but I now realise my expectations were unreasonable.
Kim basically already knows and is totally supportive. So is Kourtney. Khloé has the hardest time with it. She is upset because I never specifically told her I was going to transition. She is right: at that time I still did not know what I was going to do, if transition was even possible. It is something Khloé and I should talk about privately, as we have on many occasions on other sensitive subjects. But we have not, although I have tried. We have not been the same since.
21. On deliberately not mentioning the Kardashians during her televised coming-out interview with Diane Sawyer.
Several of the Jenner children were interviewed during the show, as were my mother and sister. The Kardashian side feels slighted by their noticeable absence. They are right to feel slighted. They were slighted on purpose because of research showing that anytime a Kardashian is on television, many in the public tend to think it is a publicity stunt to make money. I love my kids, and the last thing on earth I ever want to do is somehow think I am rejecting them. But because of the research, I needed to build a wall and distance myself for this interview. It was too important. After all of the time it took to get here, I needed to make clear that this is real, this is my life and not some publicity stunt. I couldn’t afford to add any fuel to the rumour that I was only doing it for money. I only had one chance. This had to be about me and only me.
22. On spelling her name with a “C” rather than a “K.”
I had thought about [the name] Caitlyn back in the K period, which meant it would have been spelled Kaitlyn. Or Kaitlin. However it was spelled, there was no way I was going to have a name now that began with a K. So Caitlyn it will be. But I am not sure everyone is totally happy with it. I was with Kim one day when she asked me: “Well, what are we going to call you?”
“You stuck with the K’s, huh?”
“I’m spelling it with a C.”
“Oh. I’m kind of disappointed.”
Spoken like a true Kardashian.
23. On how Keeping Up With the Kardashians affected the public’s perception of her.
Will the image they once had now be obliterated? Will they see me for who I am, or will they see some knock-off, not Caitlyn Jenner in a white pantsuit, but Bruce Jenner in a white pantsuit?
It is confusing, particularly for those who knew me as Bruce, and many millions did. Plus, seeing me as Caitlyn on television or in the pages of a magazine is totally different than seeing me in the flesh. There is no distance or filter or running for the hills or spitting in disgust or thinking this is just another Kardashian caper for publicity.
24. On Kris’s reaction to her coming-out interview.
I watch the segment at home in Hidden Hills where Kris and I once lived together. All the Kardashian kids are there with the exception of Robert. How shocked or not she [Kris] is by my transition is immaterial at this moment: it has to be very, very weird to see your former husband of 23 years and with whom you have two children go on television in front of an estimated 17.1 million people and say: “For all intents and purposes, I am a woman.”
25. On her relationship with her children now, two years after transitioning.
Every day I wonder what all my children from my three marriages really think, whether they do truly accept me and can still call me Dad as if it still has meaning, or instead look at me like some quasi-stranger who is selfish to do this at such a late stage in life.
I am still trying to sort out my relationship with all my children. I thought transition would draw us closer. Initially it did. But over the past several months there has been a void, a distance, with many of them. Sometimes as parents we aren’t always aware of how unavailable we are in the best circumstances. Then as we grow older we have that feeling of wanting to be with our children when they can’t because of their own full and busy lives. It’s a circle of life where they can’t always be there. I want them to be more attentive, but how attentive was I when some of them were growing up?
Perhaps there are aspects of Caitlyn they hoped would be different. Although I feel much more empathy on the inside, I still have trouble showing it on the outside. Although I am observant of others, I still talk about myself too much. Maybe some of the kids feel I spend too much time over the way I look, an admittedly radical departure from Bruce.