Big Brother will include a transgender woman named Audrey Middleton when it returns for a 17th season on June 24.
Middleton, a 25-year-old digital media consultant from Villa Rica, Georgia, was among the 14 Big Brother contestants announced by CBS on Tuesday morning. But the network did not discuss her gender until after TMZ posted a story about Middleton later in the day.
“Audrey Middleton is a Big Brother super fan who applied online, like many other hopeful Houseguests, and was open about her transition in the application process,” CBS said in a statement. “It is customary for Big Brother Houseguests to share personal news inside the house, and Audrey plans to discuss her story with the houseguests in her own words during the premiere episode on Wednesday, June 24.”
Middleton will be the first trans woman to play the CBS game, but not the first to appear in a reality TV show. In 2006, Alexis Arquette – sibling to actors Patricia, Rosanna and David – participated in VH1’s The Surreal Life after going public with her transition. Laverne Cox of Orange is the New Black got her start on a reality show called I Want to Work for Diddy in 2008, and America’s Next Top Model featured a transgender model in the 11th cycle.
In the meantime, two more unscripted shows are set to debut this summer that feature transgender women. In the wake of ABC Family’s debut of Becoming Us – which focuses on a teenager named Ben who has a transgender parent named Carly – TLC will premiere I Am Jazz, starring transgender teen girl Jazz Jennings, on July 15, while E! will bow Caitlyn Jenner’s show, I Am Cait, on July 26.