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After 16 seasons on the air, a TV series usually has to do something insanely different in order to break new ground. But for its upcoming Season 17, Big Brother is following a growing line of other series both scripted and unscripted by bringing in a transgender houseguest to compete for all the moolah.
Entering this year’s competition is Audrey Middleton, a 25-year-old digital media consultant who was born Adam Middleton. She’s a former MMA ring girl as well as a former competitive swimmer, according to her CBS bio, and she likes to look fabulous with no problem getting dirty. Considering it takes some wily ways to come out ahead in the world of Big Brother, that last one is a good trait to exhibit.
And her transgender lifestyle thankfully won't just be swept under the rug, either. Here’s what a CBS spokesperson had to say about Middleton’s addition to the hit reality series, according to Variety.
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. 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 transgender contestant on the U.S. version of Big Brother, but she’s not the first to pop up in the global franchise. For Season 5 of the U.K. version in 2004, Nadia Almada became the first trans winner of Big Brother. In 2013, British media personality Lauren Harries appeared on Celebrity Big Brother and finished in third place.
The past year has been a pretty great one for the transgender community, at least as far as the entertainment world goes. Laverne Cox is still going strong on Orange is the New Black, Jonny Beauchamp plays Dorian Gray’s transgender mate Angelique in Penny Dreadful and Jeffrey Tambor found universal acclaim for his role in the stellar Amazon series Transparent. (To name but a few.) And you might have heard about someone named Caitlyn Jenner, who will talk all about her transition for the upcoming E! docuseries I Am Cait. TLC also has the reality series I Am Jazz coming in July, and it’ll center on a 14-year-old transgender teen named Jazz Jennings.
That won’t be the only new change for Season 17. Each week will feature a surprise guest that will appear in the episode to introduce a new and unexpected twist. So don’t forget to tune into Big Brother’s two-night season premiere on Wednesday, July 24, and Thursday, July 25, at 8 p.m. ET.