April 25, 2017 at 7:00 AM
Almost two years ago, Caitlyn Jenner — then known as Bruce Jenner — sat down with ABC's Diane Sawyer for a historic interview in which the former Olympic athlete revealed, "For all intents and purposes, I am a woman."
On Tuesday, Caitlyn will release her memoir, "The Secrets of My Life," which chronicles many events throughout her life that led to her decision to transition and what the last two years have been like. Co-written with journalist Buzz Bissinger, it's an absorbing read that delves into her childhood and Olympic days, as well as her marriages. Given that Caitlyn is currently best known as part of the Kardashians' E! reality-show empire, she offers up lots of details about America's most fame-loving family.
Some of the Kardashian family members aren't thrilled with this development. On Sunday's episode of "Keeping Up With the Kardashians," one plot line featured Kris Jenner as she admits that she still has trouble adjusting to Caitlyn's transition, since they were married for 23 years. But she wants to stay friendly with her ex for the sake of the kids (they have two daughters, Kendall and Kylie Jenner), so they occasionally get together. After a scene that shows them getting facials and drinking wine, Caitlyn gives Kris a copy of her memoir.
Cut to: Kris, furious at the way she's portrayed in the book: as a "b—-" and an "a——." But her biggest issue is Caitlyn's claim that Kris knew about her gender dysphoria as soon as they started dating in the early 1990s. (Caitlyn writes: "I tell Kris about my gender issues before I make love to her.") Kris denies this and says that everything is "all made up." In the book, Caitlyn acknowledges they remember things differently: "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 she was taken by surprise by my ultimate transition to Caitlyn."
Kris is angry. "I really tried hard to improve the relationship. … I've done nothing but open up my home and my heart to a person who doesn't give a s—. So I'm done," she says in the episode. "I've never been so angry and disappointed in somebody in my whole life." Her daughter, Kim Kardashian West, echoes this: "Caitlyn has every right to feel however she feels, but why bring my mom into it one more time?"
While the timing of the episode — two days before the book release — is suspect, it's not surprising that the family would present Caitlyn's book in a negative light. One possible reason? In the memoir, Caitlyn is critical about her experience on the E! series, saying it made her feel irrelevant as Kris became the family's manager and breadwinner. On the show, Bruce was shown as the "well-meaning but confused and helpless father and husband." ("I'm fine with that, because it is largely accurate," Caitlyn writes.)
Caitlyn also prints a letter she received from her aunt who was "disappointed" after the series premiered in 2008. "The implication is that I have sold myself out, willingly destroyed what positive reputation I have left," Caitlyn writes. "Pretty much on the mark." She also writes that all of the money made from the show went straight to Kris, who took complete control of the family's finances.
One particularly telling anecdote reveals that Caitlyn recognized it could be damaging to be associated with the Kardashian brand. During the two-hour ABC special with Sawyer in 2015, Caitlyn and her sister were interviewed, along with some of her children from previous marriages. However, there wasn't a Kardashian in sight, which seemed like a curious decision; especially since they all posted loving, supportive tweets after the special aired. Caitlyn finally explains why.
"The Kardashian side feels slighted by their noticeable absence. They are right to feel slighted," Caitlyn writes. "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."
Well, she's not wrong. "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," Caitlyn continues. "It was too important. I would never distance myself emotionally from my family. But after all 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."
Very true, though also harsh. While any tabloid report that the Kardashians are upset will just drive attention to the book, which may be the real intention, it's easy to imagine that anyone — no matter how famous — would be hurt to find out this is how a family member really feels.