Are Kourtney Kardashian and Caitlyn Jenner Asexual?

Sensational headlines and hateful comments online have informed us that Kourtney Kardashian came out as Autosexual. We investigate these claims and ponder whether she's even the first in the family to identify with an Ace-spec label.

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Courtney: Hello, everyone, and welcome back. My name is Courtney. I am here with my spouse, Royce. And together, we are The Ace Couple. And today, we are talking about the Kardashians / Jenners and what, if anything, they have to do with Asexuality. So, this will be fun. Uh… I know, truthfully, very little about that entire family. What do you know about the Kardashians, Royce?

Royce: Probably less than you do.

Courtney: Okay, good start. So, let’s see. [laughs] The reason why this is the subject of today’s episode is because it was brought to my attention recently that Kourtney Kardashian allegedly came out as autosexual. That was literally the way this information was first presented to me: She came out as autosexual, as if it’s a big queer revelation and admission to the world. There might be a little more to the story than that, or a little less to the story than that. [laughs] We’re gonna dig in.

Courtney: But Kourtney Kardashian is… I don’t even know how many Kardashians and Jenners there are. I know there are more than I could even name. But Kourtney Kardashian — I think the only reason why I know the name Kourtney Kardashian is because once Keeping Up With the Kardashians started becoming a popular show, all of a sudden, anybody in customer service or anyone who’d ever need to type or write my name, all of a sudden, started asking me if that’s spelled with a C or a K. Before Keeping Up With the Kardashians, nobody ever once in my life asked if my name was spelled with a C or a K. Everyone just assumed it was spelled with a C, and it is. But Keeping Up With the Kardashians came out, and everyone’s like, “Oh, Courtney can also be spelled with a K.” So now they’re asking every single time, “Is it a C or a K?” It’s like, I’ve never met another Kourtney spelled with a K. Maybe there are some of a younger generation now. I don’t know if there are people out here naming their kids after Kardashians, but it could be that it’s becoming a more popular spelling. So I guess that’s one thing I know about the Kardashians is that Kourtney’s spelled with a K. [laughs]

Courtney: I’ve seen exactly one episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Only one. And it was purely because a friend of mine was on it and I wanted to watch it to support her. Because it was this big, like, “Oh my god, I’m gonna be featured on Keeping Up With the Kardashians!” I was like, “Alright, I’ve never seen this show before, but I will watch it for you.” I’ve also been told by, I think, two different people who have actually met her that Kim Kardashian is actually an incredibly surprisingly nice person face to face and that she’s really kind and accommodating and warm and down-to-earth. That is something I’ve heard from two different people that have worked for her on two different occasions. So, I’m sure there is plenty to criticize her and the entire family about, but that’s really close to the extent of my knowledge for the entire… can we call them an enclave? [laughs]

Royce: That word works, I guess.

Courtney: So we’re just gonna get to talking and see where this goes, because the quote “Kourtney Kardashian comes out as autosexual” — I want to actually point out some of the weird ways that media covering other media covering other media amplified by Tweets has sort of, I think, misrepresented the story a little bit.

Royce: The social circles out there are playing the telephone game with this.

Courtney: Yes. I think by the time this got to me, the headline had gotten zippier and painted a slightly different picture of what was actually going on here. So I wanted to investigate that — not necessarily for Kourtney Kardashian’s sake. I’m sure she’s very wealthy and famous. I’m sure she’s doing just fine and doesn’t really care what we think about her association with autosexuality. So my concern, first and foremost, is about the non-famous, non-wealthy people who identify as Autosexual — specifically, the ones who identify as Autosexual under an Asexual umbrella. Which, we’ll get there, because not everybody who identifies as autosexual considers themselves Asexual, but some do. So, clearly, once it touches the Ace community, this is our people. We need to protect our people. And I don’t want people just trying to rag on this rich, famous celebrity person to be inadvertently hurting a bunch of other people in and around us. So that’s my main concern and why I want to talk about this today.

Courtney: But since it is a Kardashian, I feel the need to loop in some information about Caitlyn Jenner as well. Because I’ve thought about talking about Caitlyn Jenner before, but so far, I’ve been like, “Eh, I don’t know if we have quite enough pertaining to Asexuality to really talk about this.” But, as part of this episode, we absolutely can.

Courtney: If any of our listeners are young enough — it also occurred to me that we could have some younger listeners that have no idea exactly how big of an impact and a media frenzy and a shock it was when Caitlyn Jenner came out as a trans woman. There was, like, an ABC special with Diane Sawyer. There was, like, a follow-up ABC special with Diane Sawyer. Caitlyn Jenner went on Ellen DeGeneres, back when she was still widely beloved and respected. [laughs] So it was a huge thing in queer news — complicated by the fact that she’s so gosh darn conservative.

Courtney: But there are… If you search the right things, if you find the right articles, some will tell you that Caitlyn Jenner is Asexual. And I want to make this abundantly clear: that I am treading a very, very fine line of questioning whether or not someone actually is what they say they are. Because I hate that. I hate that and I don’t want to do it. But I do want to actually present things in the context they were spoken. Because, I guess, for some reason — maybe it’s just the media frenzy around them — things pertaining to the Kardashians and the Jenners seem to just get boiled down very quickly and widely spread.

Courtney: So we’re going to get to the source of these, and not only what it could mean for the Kardashian-Jenner clan. I’m going to say a different word every time — apparently, everything but family. I could just say family; that’s the obvious word. But, more importantly, what the public’s perception of them using these words and the public’s reaction could mean to the average everyday Asexual, the average everyday Autosexual. Because that public perception is what’s important.

Royce: And that’s part of what I’m most curious about. I intentionally have not dug into this story because I knew we were going to talk about it.

Courtney: And you want to be surprised!

Royce: I’ve been aware of the term autosexual for quite a while. I believe it was a term that I had heard mentioned around here and there before my modern understanding of sexuality and gender identity, but it was always mentioned in contexts that made me a bit skeptical — not of the orientation itself, but of the viewpoint of the person speaking.

Courtney: Yeah.

Royce: It was mentioned in a lot of early sexology.

Courtney: Mhm.

Royce: I just pulled a few resources up here. And it wasn’t originally developed by Freud —

[Courtney laughs]

Royce: — but it was furthered by Freud after… It looks like a man named Havelock Ellis is credited with talking about — well, I guess, broader topics of autoeroticism, but also what he considered transgender psychology and narcissism.

Courtney: Yeah.

Royce: Not that he necessarily related all those three, but I’m seeing those three in a list right next to each other without knowing too much about this dude. But in my experience, if I read too much about how self-proclaimed sexologists start speaking about these terms, I have to sort of shove their opinions aside —

[Courtney laughs]

Royce: — because it gets really muddy really quickly. So, I’m wondering in what context or in what way these things are being described here.

Courtney: Yeah. Well, the thing with autosexuality — or really, anytime we’re talking about anything broadly pertaining to sexuality, the prefix “auto-” comes with a tremendous amount of stigma. Because you mentioned autoeroticism, and what is the most common two words… Like, what is the most common word that’s ever paired with “autoerotic” in popular conversation? What’s the first word that comes to your mind when you hear “autoerotic”?

Royce: Asphyxiation, yeah.

Courtney: Yes.

Royce: Because that became a whole thing in media.

Courtney: Yes!

Royce: That trope.

Courtney: And the thing is, in the popular mind, [laughs] in the hive mind, [laughs] people probably aren’t thinking “autoerotic asphyxiation” as, like, “Someone has a kink that they’re exploring in a healthy way as part of a healthy, well-rounded sexuality.” Normally, it’s either — or maybe both — it’s either painted as, “Oh, this is something a [spooky voice] sexual deviant would do,” or it’s, “Someone died tragically and now they are a tragic figure because they died of autoerotic asphyxiation,” or both: “They’re a horrible sexual deviant who died tragically because of their sexual deviations.” So, like, right off the bat, when we use the word “auto-,” there is so much stigma attached to it. And the things people are pulling from in their mind, based on pop culture, is not going to paint an accurate, nuanced portrayal of these things.

Royce: And to just further illustrate how pervasive this is or how muddy these terms are going to be, I searched for “autosexuality” — just to pull up the Wikipedia page, just to see what the first thing would be when people search — and it actually redirects to the page for autoeroticism.

Courtney: Mhm. Which, a lot of modern queer educators would argue that autosexuality and autoeroticism are not the same thing.

Royce: Are not the same thing.

Courtney: Yes.

Royce: And that’s what I’m feeling, too. I don’t think that someone who identifies as Autosexual as an orientation would agree with that, because the page for autoeroticism says, “Also known as autoerotism, autosexuality or self-gratification,” talks a lot about masturbation.

Courtney: Yes. And that’s why the word “autoerotic” just has so much stigma attached to it, because if you take autoeroticism, like, yeah, masturbation can be a form of engaging in autoeroticism. That’s something… I don’t know if you know this, but approximately a lot of people masturbate. [laughs]

Royce: I realized pretty quickly that if I started clicking around here, I was going to go down a rabbit hole, because at the top of the Wikipedia page, where there’s often, like, a “In case you were searching for something else that’s not here,” it said, “For a sexual interest that involve imagining oneself in another physical form, see erotic target location error” —

Courtney: Oh!

Royce: — which is a series of words I have never heard combined before.

Courtney: Well, see, and now we’re going to be treading very carefully. Now that we’re talking about the stigma around anything sexuality-adjacent that uses “auto-” in it — which, really, we need to tackle the stigma. It’s a problem. Part of what also makes this very interesting to me: if we talk about, sort of, both sides — the “Kourtney Kardashian comes out as autosexual” and “Caitlyn Jenner comes out as Asexual, possibly” from years ago — because…

Courtney: Well, let’s put a pin in that. Let me show you sort of how this story first came on my radar and all of the responses I immediately saw. So I saw the Daily Mail with just a banner: “Kourtney Kardashian comes out as an autosexual.” But a lot of people online did not like that. So, they are sharing this headline, they’re sharing this sentence, and people are saying, “Oh, I just googled this, and Autosexuality is a sexual orientation on the Asexual spectrum,” which we’ll get into a little bit more here in a bit too. And they’re saying, like, “Oh, so, you’re just incredibly self-centered,” followed by dozens, if not hundreds, of comments and responses saying, like, “Oh, there’s already a word for it. It’s called narcissism.” [sighs] And we see that over and over and over again. Some people say, like, “Oh, it’s called sexual narcissism.” And the more you go, like, the worse you get. We have people literally talking about, “Oh, Narcissus, who fell in love with his reflection,” and, like, “Oh, it’s a Kardashian. They all have attention-sexuality.”

Courtney: So we’ve got this kind of double-edged sword going on here where a lot of people just are not going to like the Kardashians and a lot of people are going to be what they perceive as punching up at the Kardashians. But now we have hundreds of people saying, “Autosexuality isn’t a thing. It’s just narcissism.” And we know that people who throw around the word that way aren’t talking about the actual nuances of, like, narcissistic personality disorder. They’re using “narcissist” as a shorthand for, “This is a bad person. These are bad traits for this person to have, to be autosexual.” So there’s even a level of ableism and sanism here that the average person — they don’t even necessarily see that here. They just see people are goofing on a very wealthy, conventionally attractive, famous person, right?

Courtney: But then it gets a little TERF-y. Because then we start having TERFs bringing in the concept of autogynephilia, which is a thing they use to attack trans people. That’s the word, that’s the diagnosis that they throw around when they say, “Oh, trans people, this isn’t part of their identity. This isn’t their gender. This isn’t who they are as a person. This is just their own sexual deviancy.” It all comes back to, “This is a bad way to be. This is a bad way to express sexuality and gender.” And once the TERF gets their hands on it, gender and sexuality get muddied incorrectly, so.

Courtney: But I genuinely saw people with, like, the suffragette flag in their banner — which we know the TERFs have co-opted in recent years, much to everyone’s chagrin — say, “Oh, autosexuality, this just sounds like female autogynephilia.” [laughs] Because they always have to label things as either male or female, because those are the only two options, right? But, like, if you… I don’t like the word because of the way all the TERFs use it, but for the sake of anyone who might not be as tuned into TERF rhetoric right now, like, if you Google “autogynephilia,” the definition you’re going to get is, quote, “A male’s propensity to be sexually aroused by the thought of himself as a female.” So we have TERFs out there that use this as a talking point for why trans people shouldn’t have rights, why they shouldn’t be allowed in our bathroom, all the horrible, horrible things they say. So we have those people saying, “Oh, autosexuality is just female autogynephilia.” And I don’t know what to say. This is the group of people that are trying so hard to say that, you know, maleness and femaleness are so, so separate and so distinct from one another.

Royce: So, going back to the point I made earlier about how I haven’t read very much into Autosexuality because of the way it is often talked about, we are just starting this discussion and it’s just filled with pseudo-clinical terms being thrown around.

Courtney: Yeah. And thrown around as why this is bad and why this shouldn’t be. And truthfully, like, if you separate the way TERFs use this as an attack, as a talking point, at the end of the day, the actual definition — “A male being sexually aroused at the thought of himself as a female” — so? And? Like, you’re not… That isn’t what trans people are. That’s not what it is to be transgender, what they say, so you’re messing the two things up.

Courtney: But anything that someone is sexually aroused by, as long as they are satisfying that arousal in a consensual way, why does anyone give a fuck? Truthfully. Like, these are all the layers… Like, we could pick apart like 80 different levels of wrong for this single argument that Autosexuality is female autogynophilia. But this is the stigma that’s attached to Autosexuality.

Courtney: And I just find it so interesting, because it kind of shows how amplified TERF talking points have gotten to be. Because for as often as they use autogynephilia in their arguments against trans people these days, I don’t recall that being as strong of a talking point when Caitlyn Jenner was coming out as Asexual. So the conversation definitely has changed over the last… How long ago was that, even? It hasn’t been 10 years.

Royce: April of 2015.

Courtney: It’s almost! Almost 10 years. So I also… In trying to look into this, the first couple articles I found — searching to find, like, where was the source of this, what did she say, how did she say it? — I would see, like, “Kourtney Kardashian comes out as autosexual. Quote: ‘Are you autosexual?’ ‘The short answer is yes, most likely.’” And so I thought that was, like, in an interview setting. Like, someone asked her if she was autosexual, and she’s like, “Why, yes, I am, in fact.” Like, that was the impression I got. And that is so far removed from the reality of the situation once I dug into it further.

Courtney: So, the framing is so weird. And, like, for example — so this article on Body and Soul called “Kourtney Kardashian identifies as an autosexual. What does that mean?” And the first paragraph is, “Poosh founder” — and I had never heard of this brand, so this was news to me when I went down this rabbit hole — “and reality TV icon Kourtney Kardashian Barker has come out with a candid confession about her sexuality. Here’s what the 44-year-old wants us to know.” So this is a “candid confession.” So it seems like this big emotional moment, right?

Courtney: But there’s a link to “candid confession,” and when I click on it, it goes to a totally unrelated article about her talking about gaining weight during IVF and says nothing about autosexuality. So, interesting. “Here’s what the 44-year-old wants us to know.” “Wants us to know” links to an article called, “This Kourtney Kardashian-approved blanket burns calories on the couch.”

[Royce laughs]

Courtney: Are you fucking kidding me? I want to know where the source is! Where did she say she’s autosexual? [laughs] That’s what I’m trying to find.

Royce: You have to purchase three branded items to get behind the paywall to find the source.

Courtney: [laughs] And then it gives us a lot of unnecessary exposition about other things she’s done over the years and other reasons why we might know her and other stuff she sells. “As it goes, there isn’t much we don’t know about Kardashian Barker and her family — until now. Our favorite matcha-drinking/vitamin-flogging celebrity sister has just added yet another trait to her name: autosexuality.”

Courtney: That’s another thing I’ve noticed in media lately: like, really packing key words for — just in place of someone’s name. I’ve seen that in a lot of, like, Taylor Swift coverage because we live in Kansas City, so naturally, Travis Kelce is a hot topic right about now. And it has started driving me absolutely up the wall every time there is an article about them that’s like… Instead of saying “Taylor Swift” or “Swift,” they’ll substitute, like, a song that she wrote. Like, now I can’t even think of a song she wrote. Like, “The ‘Cruel Summer’ writer said…” But then in the same article they’ll use, like, three different songs that she wrote and then there’ll be the… [laughs] like, it’s the only song I can think of right now that they’re referencing recently, but they’ll do that. They’ll use everything except her name, and they’ll name drop, like, three songs she’s written.

Royce: So, instead of putting some sort of bio at the top of the article describing someone that anyone reading this article already knows about, they’re going overboard with the “Don’t repeat common words,” like, early English guidelines by just throwing accomplishments in?

Courtney: It’ll be like, “Will Taylor Swift be at the Super Bowl?” And then they’ll be like, “The ‘Cruel Summer’ songstress is performing in Tokyo, but will she have time to get to the Super Bowl for Travis Kelce?” And then in the next paragraph, now I… okay. [sounds of typing] Popular Taylor Swift songs. Okay, “Shake It Off.” So then, in the next paragraph, it’ll be like, “Some sources say the ‘Shake It Off’ writer is planning to take her private jet.” And it’s like, why? [laughs] You’re adding so many words to this article. Did they give you too many words and you don’t have enough to write? Because, from my experience, people will be like, “You have a thousand words to write this article,” and I’m like, “I wish I had three times that.” So I’m going to be editing out every unnecessary word possible. I wish they gave me more words. [laughs]

Courtney: So, yeah, I guess they’re doing that here. Instead of just saying “Kourtney Kardashian” again or just using her last name, they’re like, “The matcha-drinking celebrity. The vitamin-flogging sister.” [laughs] I don’t know. I don’t know if anyone out there can relate, but I’ve been getting overly annoyed with news media lately because of that. I made a joke during the Super Bowl. I was like, “Oh no, Taylor Swift’s wearing a necklace. That’s gonna be three-quarters of my newsfeed tomorrow.” And I kid you not, the first article on my newsfeed was like, “This is the necklace Taylor Swift wore!” [laughing] And I was like, “Damn it! I hate that I called that!”

Courtney: So, I mean, to get back to Kourtney Kardashian and the framing of this, this literally opened with, “This is a candid confession about her sexuality. This is what she wants us to know” — while linking to unrelated nonsense.

Courtney: But then I finally get to the source of this. It says, “First discussed on her wellness website,” Alright. I’ve never been to, but I will do it now. I found the article. It’s called, “Are you low key autosexual?” Written by Poosh.

Royce: Okay.

Courtney: So now I’m thinking, did Kourtney Kardashian even write this? I don’t know. I don’t know her life. I don’t know her day-to-day work. Does she write all the articles on this? She’s not credited as the author. And this quote that I’ve been seeing is just the first two sentences of the article. It’s not a quote from any given person. It’s just the first two sentences of the article saying, “Are you autosexual? The short answer is yes, most likely.” The third sentence is, “In fact, we all are, at least a little.” [sighs]

Royce: Okay.

Courtney: Do you see? [laughs] Do you see?

Royce: What is the long answer? Because from those first three sentences — I mean, omitting that third sentence is what all the headlines were — the “We all are” sounds like it’s talking more about self-gratification or masturbation, or just the concept that everyone likes looking nice.

Courtney: Yeah. So it then goes on to say, “Casey Tanner, therapist, writer, and founder of QueerSexTherapy, helped us define autosexuality as ‘a trait wherein one is turned on by engaging in their own eroticism.’” Alright. Sure. That’s fine. The following sentence: “A prime example of this is simply women in general.”


Royce: Wait, was that the end of that sentence?

Courtney: Yeah.

Royce: There was a period after that? Okay.

Courtney: Yep!

Royce: Okay. I was hoping for a little more detail. I thought that they were going to go into, like, beauty trends and fitness trends and diets and things like that, but nope.

Courtney: Well, it goes on later to say, like, “Oh, it can be the ability to turn oneself on through looking at, visualizing, touching, or smelling oneself.” And later on, “This might mean wearing sexy lingerie, even if your partner hardly gives it a second glance. It could mean doing your hair and makeup so that you feel good and turned on, even when you’ve been in a long-term monogamous relationship and the other party hardly notices.”

Courtney: And then later on, it does say — a quote from this Casey Tanner — “Many folks resist autosexuality, fearing that it’s narcissistic or might detract from partnered sex. In reality, autosexuality can be a healthy, even valuable, part of your sex life.” And I swear to you, like, the articles covering “Kourtney Kardashian comes out as autosexual in a candid discussion about her own sexuality” — those articles are longer than this one. [laughing] This is not a very long article. And the thing is here, I don’t disagree that for some people, autoeroticism and autosexuality can be a healthy addition to their sexuality and their sex life. But this is not even talking about people who just solely identify as Autosexual, which I think is a bit of a gross oversight for someone who is a therapist and a founder of something called QueerSexTherapy.

Courtney: Because here’s a little bit of the nuances of Autosexuality, right? Like, I know some folks who consider themselves, like, “Autosexuality is — that is my orientation. That is my label.” They do not feel sexual attraction toward other people at all. Their sexuality is self-contained. They enjoy engaging in autoeroticism. They are able to become sexually attracted, become sexually aroused by and within their own body. And that is it. That is the only way that they experience that attraction. And for those folks, yeah, absolutely, welcome to the Ace umbrella.

Courtney: But it’s also a weird one where it’s not exclusively or by default an Asexual microlabel. Because I also have had conversations with people who consider themselves to be autosexual and bisexual, for example, and they’re just like, “Autosexuality is a part of my broader sexuality.” And that kind of sounds a little bit more of what this article might be hinting at.

Courtney: And in fact, even the allusions — they aren’t talking necessarily about traditionally straight couples, but with the, like, “Oh, if you’re monogamous and your partner doesn’t even care that you are sexy lingerie anymore, but you do,” there’s almost a weird default assumption of straight on this article, and I don’t know if that’s the platform or if it’s the way this writer was talking in this interview or what. But, like, at the end of the day, is there a stigma? Yes. Do we need to be tackling that stigma? Yes. But the thing is, all of these articles, all of these headlines that are covering this blog on Poosh are, like, kind of hiding the original article on Poosh. [laughing] I had to work hard to get there and find where this actually came from.

Royce: Well, yeah, then you’d read the third line that they omitted.

Courtney: Yeah, well then you’d read the third line, but that’s leaving a lot of people to just see a single Tweet or a single headline that has been somehow changed to, “Kourtney Kardashian comes out as autosexual,” and then people are just searching autosexual to be like, “What the heck does that even mean?”

Courtney: And a good number of them are finding Autosexual in the Asexual context. They’re seeing a definition that’s saying Autosexuality is under the umbrella of Asexuality or it’s a label within the Asexual spectrum. Which, I guess, like… I don’t know. Like, I do want more people to learn about this and hear about this, but this is not how you do queer education, and it’s being presented as a queer coming out. Because people are using the phrase, “She comes out” and it’s a “candid confession about her sexuality.” And it’s like, I still genuinely do not even know if she wrote this. [laughs] I don’t. If she did, that’s fine, good for her.

Courtney: But my one issue, really, with people saying, like, “Kourtney Kardashian is is an autosexual. Kourtney Kardashian has come out as being on the Asexual spectrum” — even if she did write this, and she’s like, “Yeah, we’re all a little autosexual,” even if those were her words, which they may or may not be, does that genuinely sound like someone who is identifying in her heart of hearts as an autosexual?

Royce: Yeah, think about a gay man coming out and being like, “Well, we’re all a little gay, right?”

Courtney: Yeah! Well, I mean, I was thinking almost, like, when people are like, “Well, everyone’s a little bit bisexual, aren’t they?” But there is kind of a pipeline of people thinking that way and then later in life actually realizing that they are bisexual, [laughing] so that might not be the best example.

Courtney: But the thing is, like, even if it wasn’t autosexual, if it was something that was more the spectrum of Asexual… Like, Asexuality, we also get people saying, like, “You’re just a narcissist. You’re somehow selfish if you aren’t sexually attracted to other people.” And you get that with people who are childless, also. Like, “You’re selfish if you don’t want children. You’re selfish if you don’t want to get married,” to use a less medicalized, ableist phrase. But, like, the intentions are the same amongst people that use these insults, right? And so that’s something we get regardless. But this “We all are, at least a little bit,” followed by, “A prime example of this is simply women in general” — like, that sounds so much like every argument that people will level against Demisexuality. Like, “Oh, you’re Demisexual? You mean you’re a woman?” despite the fact that obviously Demisexuals come in all genders. [laughs] “Come in all genders,” like you could go to a store and be like, “I would like a…” No, we’re not doing that. They come in all shapes and sizes.

Courtney: So, I also just don’t like the framing as, like, “Here is something that can be a very meaningful identity to some queer people and some who are on the Ace spectrum,” and yet the article itself is like, “Everybody is like this,” and the public perception is like, insult, insult, insult.

Royce: I don’t think the article — the original article — is treating this as an orientation. I think they are treating it as a feeling that a lot of presumably allo people feel as a part of their broader allo orientation, where they feel some sort of confidence or eroticism or empowerment by the way that they look.

Courtney: Yeah.

Royce: And I think conflating that with the idea of autosexuality as an orientation is a case of using the wrong word, or using a word that has multiple distinct meanings that need to be clarified before you get into the conversation because they can’t be intermixed.

Courtney: Yeah. And, I mean, I guess, to Casey Tanner’s credit — because this is the only person interviewed on this article, the only one who has anything in quotes on this article — Tanner does say, “Like most human characteristics, autosexuality is a spectrum, and the majority of us are on it. Some may identify as exclusively autosexual, in which case they might consider autosexuality their sexual orientation. Most people, however, incorporate autosexuality into a larger sexual repertoire that also includes being turned on by partnered sex.” So there is a little bit of a line that does say, like, “Someone might actually identify as autosexual because that might be their whole story, but most of us still get turned on by partnered sex but also are a little autosexual, because we’re all a little autosexual, right? Right? Right?!”

Royce: That is a dimension of sexual attraction that I haven’t really thought to think through. I think that it makes sense that thinking about internal versus external attraction on a spectrum as a different means, or, again, another dimension to think about attraction as a whole. I don’t think the mainstream discourse is approaching it in that way.

Courtney: Well, clearly not, based on the response to this. But, like, that is what I am saying. Like, even in the article, the person who is being quoted, whose words we know we can attribute to this person, does say, like, “Yes, someone might identify as autosexual, but most people — what we’re talking about in this article, we’re talking about wearing sexy lingerie, we’re talking about doing your hair and makeup.” The framing is not centering the people who identify as Autosexual. So how the discourse became “Kourtney Kardashian comes out as autosexual” is beyond me.

Courtney: And now I’m gonna try googling this, too. Like, I haven’t thought to google, “Does Kourtney Kardashian write [stammers] Poosh articles?” Okay, so, actually, when I search that, I get the author page on Poosh that does say “Author: Kourtney Kardashian.” But it’s showing the articles she’s written, and they’re all labeled “Kourtney.” And the very first one is, “Meet our new Vital Proteins collagen flavors” — oh, collagen, don’t get me started on collagen — “written by Kourtney Kardashian.” So, she labels the things she writes. She didn’t even write this! [laughs]

Royce: So, yeah, you could infer, because her name was omitted, that she did not write that. Poosh staff wrote it.

Courtney: Yeah. The next one: “Kris Jenner on what it takes to be a boss, written by Kourtney Kardashian.” And this is just what I say: like, find the source of what’s happening and please, please, like, don’t take an article covering an article covering an article covering a Tweet at face value, because… You know, you also — anytime someone is saying, like, “Oh, they come out candidly about their sexuality,” like you don’t want to be the asshole who’s like, “But is she really autosexual?” Because if she genuinely, in an interview setting, was like, “Yes, most likely I am autosexual, this is a very important part of myself,” like, then we have to take it seriously and we have to respect it. But that’s not what happened here. It’s not!

Royce: Yeah. “Is she really?” is not the way you want to go about that. But “Did she actually say that?” or just simply “Source?” I think is a valid response. [laughs]

Courtney: “Pics or it didn’t happen.” No. No, I don’t want those pics. Didn’t a Kardashian pic break the internet once? Was that the first example of quote “breaking the internet” being used as a phrase? That’s the third thing I know about the Kardashians. [laughs]

Royce: I don’t know how to search for a history of internet breaking things, but I did see, on a list of top 10 things that broke the internet, a cover of Paper Magazine with Kim Kardashian’s butt on it. That was a big one.

Courtney: Yeah, that’s the one, right? But it’s also so ridiculous, too, now. Because when I see, like, a TERF resharing the headline “Kourtney Kardashian comes out as autosexual,” and they’re just using this biting, like, “Oh, this is female autogynephilia. This is narcissism,” like, your instinct is to want to defend that, right? And I don’t condone fighting with TERFs online. I’m not saying that. But your instinct is to, like, “Let’s provide more education about what this is.” And if Kourtney Kardashian did genuinely come out sensitively and openly as an autosexual, like, you would want to defend that, you would want to respect that. But that’s just not even what happened. So now it’s — if you argue with these people, you’re arguing over a news story that isn’t even real, but you’re kind of doing it on behalf of all the real life Autosexual people out there [laughs] who don’t have as big of a voice or a platform but are still seeing all of this hate leveled at anyone who’s even implied to have this identity or use this word. So it’s just, everything sucks about this situation.

Courtney: Okay. So, I think it’s probably safe to say that Kourtney Kardashian did not come out in a candid interview as being autosexual — at least, not in the way that it is being portrayed.

Courtney: So, I do still want to talk about Caitlyn Jenner, though. Because we’ve been able, already, to touch on sort of the hatred that a lot of trans-exclusionary radical feminists have toward Asexual people, autosexual people, in addition to trans people. And we’ve talked in the past, in previous episodes, about how TERFs really, really do hate Aces. So I do find it interesting that we do have an example within this family of a trans woman, who also happens to be very conservative and agrees with the TERFs on certain things, but has actually herself used the word Asexual — which makes this one a lot more complicated.

Courtney: Because back when she first came out as Caitlyn Jenner — this was a true coming out. This was 20/20 interviews. This was doing the interview circuit. She wrote a book at one point, which I have not read. Maybe there’s more clarity in her memoir. But based on what we were seeing at that time, she is unequivocally a trans woman. She said, “I’ve known that I’m trans. I’ve been confused about my gender identity since I was very young.” We learned at that time that she tried beginning HRT, like, in the ’80s, but quit for fear of hurting her kids. And now, over 60 years old, verging on 70, she’s ready to show the world who she actually is. She’s on hormones again. She’s getting gender confirmation surgeries. And she’s introducing Caitlyn to the world.

Courtney: And for the most part, she was very open about any questions people wanted to ask. Her whole deal was, “I know a lot of people aren’t going to understand this. I know a lot of people don’t accept this. I might be the first trans person, like, a lot of people have seen, so I want it to be a pleasant experience. I want this to be as easy as possible for these other people.” And there was a good amount of respectability politics involved in that. But she was talking about surgeries, and even said, you know, “When it comes to, like, bottom surgery, this is something trans people can talk about, and I’ll talk about my thoughts on it, but you shouldn’t ask other trans people about it.” So she got some things correctly for, like, a huge 20/20 interview for a lot of people in America who had probably never seen a high profile trans person before. There were some good things associated with it at the time. I remember watching these specials just to see how it was handled.

Courtney: And the one thing that was really not great — if anybody, like, goes on a research tangent about this period of time after listening to this or anything — they still at first, by Caitlyn Jenner’s recommendation, still used he/him pronouns at the start, and sometimes even still use the name Bruce Jenner, but they do, like, the asterisk, like, “We have been asked to use the familiar pronouns for now.” And so there would be a lot of statements, if you look up these old interview clips, which would be like, “He has known he was a woman since he was a little boy.” Like, there would be things like that. Or, like, “He is now going by Caitlyn Jenner,” which most trans people wouldn’t be cool with, but at the time, being conservative and being like, “I just want this to be easy for people…” And I think he even said something like, “Okay, so when do we start calling you she and calling you Caitlyn?” And I think she was like, “Oh, you’ll know. Like, visually, I will look like a woman, and then you can…” And so there was a lot of… Queer history is gonna look weirdly upon it. It was simultaneously such a big revolutionary moment and also regressive in some ways.

Courtney: And so this is why it’s so weird: because people would ask — like, the interviewers would ask about sexuality. “Well, we know your family. We know you were with Kris Jenner for so many years. You had a wife even before her. So, like, now that you’re a woman, are you still going to be with women?” And some of the interviewers weren’t very comfortable, you can tell, them trying to pick their words very, very carefully. And I just distinctly remember Caitlyn Jenner sitting there in multiple interviews at this period of time, using, like, the same quote. Anytime someone would ask, “What is your sexuality?” she’d say, “Well, sexuality and gender are two different things.” And she’d say something along the lines of, “Your sexuality is who you go to bed with, but your gender identity is who you go to bed as.” Like, that was the thing that she said all the time at this, at this stage, and that was always the answer in response to people saying, like, “Well, what is your sexuality, then?”

Courtney: And if they didn’t drop it after “Gender and sexuality are two different things” — they’re like, “Okay, I understand that, but what is your sexuality? If your gender is woman, then what is your sexuality?” I think… was it Diane Sawyer? One of the interviewers at this period of time even said, like, “So, if you’re a woman and you’re attracted to women, does that make you a lesbian?” Caitlyn Jenner would never agree to that, would never say yes, would never use the word “lesbian” herself. Would, in fact, even sitting here saying, “I am a woman. I have transitioned. I’ve always been a woman. I want you to treat me as a woman. For all intents and purposes, I am a woman,” she’d also say, “Well, as far as I know, I’m heterosexual, because I’ve always been interested in women.” And then they’d be like, “Alright, but you are a woman, so does that make you a lesbian?” And then she’d be like, “Uh… gender and sexuality are two different things!” And so she was very weird about being perceived as potentially gay.

Royce: Which makes sense given a lot of her conservative leanings. I don’t know if “leaning”... The word “leaning” might be too subtle.

Courtney: I mean, she’s solidly conservative. [laughs] I’m pretty sure in recent years she’s been, like, condemning trans women in sports, which really sucks as a trans woman who is a well revered Olympic hero. That sucks. But this is the only reason why any mention of Asexual, I think, by Caitlyn Jenner needs to be looked at in context. Because she’d refuse to say, “I’m a lesbian” or “I’m gay,” would still not even say, “I’m attracted to women as a woman.” She’d say, like, “I’m completely heterosexual because I’ve always been interested in women.” And they’d be like, “Alright, you’re a woman now, but does that make you gay?” “Ummm…”

Courtney: Then she would start to say things like, “Well, you know, I already did the family thing, I already have so many kids, so I’m not looking to start a family with anyone,” which is a very conservative talking point of, this is the only reason why you would marry and/or have sex with someone is to have children, is to start a family. So she’d be like, “I’m past that. I have so many kids, I have grandkids, so I’m just not at that stage in my life.”

Courtney: And some of the quotes — she’d say, like, “Would I possibly have a female life partner in the future? Yeah, possibly. But definitely not a female sex partner. But maybe a female life partner.” Which could be, like, romantic Asexual vibes. That could very well be. I don’t actually know her heart. But then she’d also say things like… She did eventually get bottom surgery. I think she talked about that process in her memoir, but I distinctly remember a, like, “I’m not attracted to men,” and this quote was something along the lines of, “Maybe that will change after I’ve removed the last appendage of my maleness.” So she’s basically saying, like, “Maybe when I get bottom surgery, I’ll want to have sex with men.”

Courtney: And so I don’t know if that is… The thing is, with the conservative mindset, not even necessarily just her age — because I know people in their 70s who have a more nuanced understanding of gender and sexuality than this, but she would sometimes say, like, “Well, you have to understand, I’m older. Like, my age… Like, I am conservative, I like tradition,” and she’d say those things. So, without her specifying, it’s hard to know. Does she genuinely think that she could be attracted to men and she’s just not letting herself explore that because she thinks there’s an arbitrary “I need to do this before that” factor here? I don’t know. Sounds like it maybe could be, based on the way she’s tiptoeing around it. Because I have trouble believing that — with all her other views and everything else she has said — that she understands how fluid sexuality can be and how “Sexuality can change over time, so maybe my sexuality will change.” Like, I struggle to think that. But again, I don’t know her heart, I don’t know.

Courtney: When she went on Larry King, Larry King asked what your sexuality is, and she just said, “I don’t even go there,” like, just, “I’m not even going to answer that question. I don’t even go there.” And so a couple of times, when pressed in these interviews, in addition to “Maybe a female life partner, definitely not a female sexual partner,” “Maybe I’d sleep with a man after I have bottom surgery, but I don’t know,” then she’d say, “I’ll just have to say I’m asexual for now.” And it was always that: “Asexual for now.”

Courtney: And that’s another thing where it’s like, in our nuanced understanding, we do know sexuality is fluid, and maybe someone who does genuinely identify as Asexual now might not in the future, and that is fine and we should respect those people in their journey. But I don’t think Caitlyn has that understanding, so it almost feels wrong to analyze it with that understanding.

Royce: It does. Without more information, I’m inclined to read that as celibate.

Courtney: Yes. It’s as if you’re saying “asexual” not as the orientation one might define themselves as, and more “asexual” as “I am not sexual,” and — which does make it really hard in the conversation as, like, a trans woman transitioning, too. Because we have had late night conversations at our kitchen table with trans friends who are like, “I was never Asexual until, you know, I started hormones, and now I’m questioning if I’m Asexual,” and, like, fearing, “Am I allowed to say that I’m Asexual because I feel like maybe, maybe hormones have played a part in this? And does that look bad on Asexual people if I start to identify as this?” Like, we’ve known trans people who have had these questions and confusions and concerns. So, it is incredibly possible that she or any other trans person out there has quote “become” or at least come to understand Asexuality through the gender transition journey, and we have to be okay with that for the people who do hold that truth.

Courtney: But in the larger context, [laughing] Caitlyn Jenner saying… It’s really hard to analyze it with the nuanced understanding. But you also can’t really argue it without putting in the nuanced understanding, because if you’re now — like, if you play the role of asshole who’s like, “Caitlyn Jenner isn’t really Asexual because she just said she’s asexual for now, and she doesn’t even know what that is,” well, now you kind of are accidentally discrediting all the people who have had, you know, transitional periods of identifying as Asexuality or people who have come to identify as Asexual later in life, which is a thing that absolutely does happen.

Courtney: So it’s just one of those things. Because when she went on Ellen DeGeneres — I remember watching this, too — Ellen kind of laid into her, too. Because Caitlyn Jenner has historically been opposed to gay marriage, and right there in front of Ellen DeGeneres — at the time, the most famous lesbian maybe in the world [laughs] — Caitlyn Jenner was saying things like, “Oh, I used to be very opposed to gay marriage, and now I’m still…” Like, she was still tiptoeing around it. She was like, “I don’t want to come in the way of anyone’s happiness. Like, if this is what makes you happy — and if having the word ‘marriage,’ if that word actually means so much to you…” Then Ellen was sitting here being like, “Yeah, the word means so much to us, because that’s what it is. If you all get to marry, then we get to marry too. That’s called equality.” And, like, I remember Ellen laying into her because she was still uncomfy about the idea of gay marriage.

Courtney: And so all of that at once — being like, “I’m heterosexual, I’m attracted to women,” “But if you’re a woman, does that make you a lesbian?” “No…” and “I’m uncomfy about gay marriage” and “I definitely would never sleep with a woman, but maybe I’d have a woman as a life partner. Maybe I’ll sleep with a man after I get bottom surgery, so let’s just go with Asexual,” and then other people saying, “What’s your sexuality?” and she’s like, “I don’t go there. I don’t go there. I will open up about all of my surgeries and my gender identity, but I will not go there when it comes to sexuality.”

Courtney: And it’s like… Still, to this day, I feel like just a few months ago I saw, like, a listicle that was like, “Famous celebrities who are Asexual,” and Caitlyn Jenner was on that list. And there was just a moment where I was like… It’s not even like, “Oh, she’s conservative and is acting against our interests, so we don’t want her. We don’t claim her.” It wasn’t even that. It was this moment of, like, if it wasn’t public, if someone very close to her that she shares all of her inner secrets with were to sit down and ask her and be like, “What is your sexual orientation?” is she genuinely, with her whole chest, saying, “I am Asexual?” If she is, that’s fine. She can be on those lists. [laughs] I don’t know. Maybe, maybe someone will come along and be like, “Actually, I read her memoir and she is very solidly identifying as Asexual.” Maybe, maybe it could be. But as of now, when you Google, like, “Caitlyn Jenner Asexual,” it’ll be a line on the Wikipedia page that is going back to 2015 again, right during the same period of time, with the quote, “identify as Asexual for the time being,” so.

Royce: Well, nine years have passed, so what about the current period of time?

Courtney: I haven’t been able to find anything more recent than that, really. So that’s what we’re working with. And that, my friends, is probably absolutely everything I know about the Kardashians and Jenners. Although there was… Do you remember that one weird day where I was out and I got flocked by a group of, like, pre-teens who for some reason thought I was Kylie Jenner? Do you remember that? That was weird.

Royce: Only in the vaguest of terms.

Courtney: Yeah! There was a group of pre-teens that were like, “Oh my god, are you Kylie Jenner?” And I was like, “No.” But then I didn’t even know what Kylie Jenner looked like at this period of time, so I had to Google her after the pre-teens left.

Royce: Oh, I do remember you doing, like, a side-by-side image. Like, maybe there was something with your hair or the outfit you were wearing where you were like, “Oh, I kind of see it.”

Courtney: Well, at the time, I think my hair was purple, and I think at the time Kylie Jenner’s hair was, like, a bluish kind of indigo something. And I was wearing a lipstick that matched my hair. And I remember I was talking to a makeup artist that I was going to see that day, and I was — like, a few minutes after this happened, I was like, [laughing] “I just got flocked by pre-teens asking me if I’m Kylie Jenner.” Then she was like, “Oh, it’s probably because of your lipstick. Your lips look so big.” And I was like, “My lips? Does Kylie Jenner have big lips?” And she’s like, “Well, yeah, but also, she has a makeup company now.” And I’m like, “Wow, this is all news to me!” [laughs] And the dress I was wearing was a lot more modern than what I normally tend to wear, but it had, like, a lace-up V-neck down to the belly button, and I had, like, a really lacy colorful kind of bra underneath it. And I did happen to find — like, I’m like, “How did they…” And I’m like, “I guess we kind of have, like, the same general skin tone.” But I did find, like, one picture of her with blue hair wearing a dress kind of similar to what I was wearing, and I was like, “Alright, I guess, but what planet are these pre-teens living on where they think Kylie Jenner is just galavanting about in Kansas [laughs] without any security, without paparazzi?” Yeah, it was a weird time, so.

Courtney: So, that will bring us to our featured MarketplACE vendor of the week, which is a book that I want all of you out there to read. I have read extensively on Asexuality, and I have yet to find a nonfiction book as good as this one, and that is Refusing Compulsory Sexuality: A Black Asexual Lens on Our Sex-Obsessed Culture by Sherronda J. Brown. If you listen to this podcast a lot, you have probably heard me mention it on several other occasions. And the reason why I picked this shop today… Because even though Twitter, social media, the public’s perception and the articles covering articles covering articles about something a Kardashian may or may not have even said, is not how we have nuanced conversations about queerness and Asexuality and autoeroticism. So, let’s take it to a context that makes sense: a well-written, well-researched book.

Courtney: And, amongst many other topics in there, there is a chapter on desire, which I do think is especially pertinent to conversations about autosexuality, autoeroticism. There are historical references — for example, a 1977 essay by Myra T. Johnson called “Asexual and Autoerotic Women: Two Invisible Groups,” so there is a precedence for describing, quote, “Asexuals as people who prefer not to engage in sexual activity, while those who do experience sexual desire but have no wish to satisfy it with others are called autoerotic.” There are also quotes from an Asexual sex educator named Ev’Yan Whitney, someone I have also mentioned on this podcast before. And they, both in this book and in their own content, have a lot of great information about what sex and sensuality can look like for an Asexual person, what desire looks like and how it can be expressed as an Asexual person. And in fact, I’ll go ahead and put links to some of her content in the show notes as well. If you’d like to check it out, please do. And definitely check out the link to purchase your own copy of Refusing Compulsory Sexuality. I cannot recommend it highly enough, and I’ll link to other places you can find Sherronda J. Brown as well.

Courtney: As always, thank you all so much for being here, and we will talk to you all next time. Goodbye.