Transgendered contestant to appear on ‘America’s Next Top Model’

The openly transgendered Isis will be in the next season of ‘America’s Next Top Model’

By now we’ve all seen the cutesy dyke takes on the fashion world that began with Kim Stolz in Cycle 5 of America’s Next Top Model. But that was five whole seasons ago and, believe me, lesbians are so out-of-season. So Tyra Banks has upped the ante in the upcoming Top Model cycle with an openly transgendered contestant, Isis.

The 22-year-old, a former non-profit worker from Maryland, identifies herself as “a woman born physically male.”

GLAAD has praised the move.

When asked if she was proud to be a role model, Isis replied, “I like to help people, but I’m here to follow my dreams.” Honorable and refreshing. I hope she does get to pursue them. So often pioneers are asked to subjugate their own goals and desires in order that they may represent their entire community in the public sphere. But we each have a right to succeed and be proud on our own terms, and not just as queer or transgendered people.

And with legs that go for days, and a stance that already screams sass, she will most certainly give all her biologically XX competitors a run for their money.

But that doesn’t mean I expect her to win. Stolz, as ANTM’s first out gay contestant, is in a unique position to analyze the situation and I have to agree with her assessment that, “You — and CoverGirl — can count on her walking out of the elimination room, tail between her legs (I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist), sometime mid-season…”

Top Model may be willing to tackle tough and taboo subject matter, but they must do so in a quick, shallow, mainstream way. That’s the nature of the business and it makes it terribly easy to exploit the subject (i.e. a real live person) in the pursuit of ratings and advertising dollars. Already, Isis has garnered much attention, be it praise from GLAAD or backlash from Fox News.

Although I am happy that mainstream America is being exposed to trans issues through the relatively non-threatening figures such as Isis or Thomas Beatie I do fear that we tend to become circus monkeys for the entertainment of straight America. I enjoy a comedic drag queen as much as anyone, but remember, like any wild animal, caged and staged or not, we’re fierce as well as funny.

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