'Big Brother' Transgender Guest Audrey Middleton Will Get To Tell Her Narrative Her Own Way & That's So Important
Everyone's favorite CBS reality show has been a buzz-worthy topic of conversation since Big Brother announced its Season 17 cast. The most notable cast-member is Audrey Middleton, a 25-year-old digital media consultant and the show's very first openly transgender houseguest. The way the show is addressing the media says a lot about the way the gender narrative is improving on television. In a statement to Us Weekly, CBS explained how they plan on portraying Middleton's backstory, and they made it clear that Middleton's story is hers to tell.
"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," the network said. "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."
With Caitlyn Jenner's recent transition, and Laverne Cox's Emmy-nominated work on Orange Is the New Black, there has been a lot of discussion about the progress being made in mainstream understanding of gender identity. While Jenner gave an in-depth interview to Diane Sawyer about her identity, and even Cox herself spoke out in support, there's no shortage of ignorance on the subject, and more trans visibility could lead to more progress for trans rights and equality.
Even with wonderful responses, like the amazing video of kids reacting to Caitlyn Jenner's transition, it's still so important to hear the stories of transgender people rather than stories of how others are reacting to the revelation of someone's gender identity. Their narrative is not about us, or about the media, but about them, their feelings, and their experiences. The fact that CBS is stepping up to proactively tell viewers that Middleton will be telling her story in her own words is a sigh of relief in an era where teasers and carefully edited clips dictate the perception of TV episodes and, in some cases, give a misleading look at the narrative.
Most importantly, the network is continuing a conversation the United States and the rest of the world desperately needs to have about the lingering stigma and confusion surrounding gender issues. I can only hope that the houseguests share CBS' supportive stance on Middleton's transition. And, as a reminder, here are some ways that you can be an ally to the trans community, because one of the best ways to support the transgender community is by doing your part to understand their experience.