Following the announcement of the 14 Houseguests that will make up the latest season of “Big Brother,” many were quick to notice that the show is breaking new ground in Season 17. This year will feature the first ever transgender contestant.
On Tuesday, the CBS reality competition dropped the names of all the cast members vying for the $500,000 prize in 2015. Among them is 25-year-old Audrey Middleton, a digital media consultant from Villa Rica, Georgia. Her official bio for the show mentions that she’s worked a bevy of interesting jobs, including a pizza delivery driver and a MMA Ring Girl. She’s a self-described “Big Brother” super fan who claims she won’t hesitate to make bold moves in the house and get blood on her hands. What’s not mentioned in her official bio is the fact that she’s transgender.
"Audrey told us she is planning on telling everyone in the ‘Big Brother’ house that she is transgender when she and all the other houseguests meet each other for the first time on the premiere night," host Julie Chen told People Magazine. "I just want to say I hope you watch with compassion and an open mind, to learn something about a community you may not be familiar with."
Chen went on to describe how this is really Audrey’s story to tell and no one else’s – sentiments that were echoed in a statement from the network.
“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,” a statement to Us Weekly read. “It is customary for ‘Big Brother’ house guests 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.”
While Middleton’s transition story and presence in the household will surely speak to a large audience of gender-conscious viewers, it’s not meant to be some kind of big twist for Season 17. No, the twist comes in the form of the recently announced “BB Takeover” theme. According to TV Line, the show will cycle in mystery guests each week to shake things up for the new contestants.
The first two of these mystery guests will show up during the two night premiere event on June 24 and 25. After that, the show will revert to its regularly scheduled time on Sundays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.