Ty Ty, her fabulous Jays, noted fashion photographer Nigel Barker, and a supermodel du jour will be back on September 3 for Cycle 11 of CW’s hit series America’s Next Top Model. This time around, as per ush, the spotlight will most likely center on one girl. Not because she’s short(ish) like Cycle 3’s Eva, or plus size(ish) like Cycle 3’s Tocarra, or grew up on the streets(ish) like Cycle 10’s Marvita, but because the show is going to feature its first transgender contestant – 22-year-old Isis (pictured).
I hope that Tyra and crew won’t turn one contestant’s gender into a circus sideshow for the ratings. (Which will be tempting, as those ratings should be good.) At its best, Top Model can seem almost progressive, with a diverse panel of judges and guests like Benny Ninja and his vogueing divas straight out of Paris is Burning. But the show also tends to go the Tila Tequila way, highlighting whatever it is that makes a girl “different” – Cycle 5 contestant Kim’s sexuality, Cycle 10 winner Whitney’s weight – and having that fact beaten repeatedly into the audience. If Isis is touted as “the transgender contestant” and has to explain her sexuality and gender every time she’s on screen, it will be even more exhausting than hearing Tyra list the prizes for the winner during each elimination.
Do you think Isis will get a fair shake? Or will Tyra et al make her gender the focal point of the season?