Meet Audrey Middleton, “Big Brother”‘s First Transgender Houseguest
Last night was the premiere of my absolute favorite guilty pleasure, “Big Brother.” While I’ve watched every season of the show, the last two summers I made the leap and subscribed to the show’s live feeds, which give you basically 24/7 access to what’s actually happening in the “Big Brother” house, where TK houseguests are locked inside with no contact with the outside world and spend three months vying for the eventual $500K prize. On last night’s premiere, we officially met the first eight houseguests, including Audrey Middleton, the first transgender houseguest in the show’s history.
Audrey was assigned a male gender at birth, but the 25-year-old Georgia native fully transitioned a few years ago and considers herself a girly girl. “I love to get dressed up and go out,” she says in her CBS bio. “I like to put a lot of effort into my appearance. Not in a superficial way, but it’s one of the most fun forms of self-expression for me. Fabulous hair, lashes, makeup. I’m the Beyoncé of my life story. As I should be, right?”
(It’s important, I think, to note that not all trans people fully transition, i.e. have surgery, and that doing so is not at all a “requirement” of identifying as a trans person. Gender is psychological and sex is anatomical and not all trans people want or have access to sex reassignment surgery. Also, not all trans women present themselves in traditionally feminine ways — gender is still a social construct, and as trans women are women, and not all women are super “girly.”)
Audrey was quick to be upfront about her gender identity with the other seven houseguests who entered the house with her, telling them that not only was she making “BB” history, but this was also the first time she was coming out as transgender in a public forum. It was brave and bad ass and I was relieved to see that the houseguests she’s been able to tell so far have responded with compassion and acceptance, both in her presence and in their one-on-one diary room interviews.
But ow authentic that is, frankly, remains to be seen. Part of why I subscribe to the livefeeds is to see how the houseguests actually feel about each other, and what they say behind each other’s backs (not to mention, to watch all the lying and scheming and psychological manipulation.) Let’s just say, the ugly side of humanity can not hide for very long when you’re locked inside a house on a studio lot with cameras streaming your every move and mics capturing your every word 24/7. While I expect that Audrey will have a major impact on her fellow houseguests, especially those who are unfamiliar with the trans experience, I also am bracing myself for some serious ignorance too.
Audrey seems to have a strategic mind and a personality that will help her social game, so I hope she stays in the house long enough to win some money and change lives in the process.