'Big Brother's' First Transgender Houseguest, Audrey Middleton, Will Break Barriers This Summer

'I think there’s a chance I could be a misunderstood hero, but I’m going to be a hero.'

Most seasons, the Big Brother houseguests have to actually enter the house before they begin making headlines. But this year, one competitor, Audrey Middleton, is creating news and breaking barriers before she even steps through the door. That's because Audrey is the first transgender houseguest in Big Brother history. In a statement to the press, CBS said, "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 also confirmed that Audrey "plans to discuss her story with the houseguests in her own words during the premiere episode on Wednesday, June 24."

We're thrilled that Big Brother has expanded its LGBT diversity this season (two other contestants, Jason Roy and Vanessa Rousso, self-identified as gay in their bios on CBS.com). Over the past few years, transwomen such as Caitlyn Jenner, Laverne Cox, Janet Mock, Andreja Pejic and others have worked to make the transgender rights movement more visible, and we as a society continue to see the benefits of their efforts as more people come out and open up about their experiences.

But it's important to remember that trans people continue to face legal discrimination in many states, and that transwomen in particular still experience high levels of violence and poverty. We hope that Audrey uses her platform on Big Brother to raise awareness of these issues, and that her fellow houseguests (and viewers at home) are open to learning about her experience — and that she wins some HOHs! Come on, Audrey, we're rooting for you.