Justice

The Controversial Reason Bravo Fired the First Trans 'Real Housewife'

January 6th 2016

By:
Aron Macarow

Model Amiyah Scott appeared on the most recent episode of "The Real Housewives of Atlanta," but don't expect to see her again on the show anytime soon. The 27-year-old was supposed to be the first transgender cast member of the Bravo reality franchise. Unfortunately, Scott's short cameo in season nine is likely the only time viewers will catch her on RHOA.

Citing "contractual complications" in an Instagram post on December 27, Scott also suggested that she left the show one month into filming over pressure from producers to demean herself by "wearing lingerie and acting like a vixen" according to TMZ. Writing to her fans, the model said that "the magic of editing" would remove her from RHOA and explained her departure as a personal choice:

"I'm in my 20's and when this opportunity was BROUGHT to me, It was no guarantees & I was cool with that, but I wasn't going to exploit myself or act out of character for it... I honestly saw a chance to help change the perspective of MY community, but I wanted to maintain my dignity."

She also pointed to the harmful stereotypes that are frequently applied to the trans community as part of her decision to leave:

"But contrary to popular belief, I personally know transgender housewives, models, doctors, lawyers and many other successful unique individuals, along with so many others who are fighting to break the negative stigma associated with the trans community. [...] But my point in this is to say, me filming with the #RealHousewivesOfAtlanta was not for attention, but to assist in breaking a stereotype. Trans women are not only sex objects or prostitutes. We are strong, educated & human just like everyone else."

ATTN: reached out to Scott but could not reach her before publication. She was recently cast by Lee Daniels for a new television show, TMZ reports, and according to the show producers, they disagree with Scott's story. TMZ reports that show producers say that Scott was boring on-camera and claim that they did not pressure her into wearing lingerie.

So why did Amiyah Scott not make the cut?

Scripted or reality plot lines seldom feature trans women and when they do, they're often characters like Carmelita in "Dirty Sexy Money," who actively bolster narrow stereotypes rather than breaking them down — not more complex representations of trans experience like Sophia Burset, played by Laverne Cox, in “Orange Is The New Black.” Remember Carmelita's story arc, celebrated at the time for its inclusivity? She was the mistress of another character on the show and it was also insinuated that she was a sex worker, with a particularly shocking line labeling the character a "tranny hooker." (At least the network actually cast a trans woman to play a trans woman, featuring Candis Cayne in the role.)

With the advent of scripted shows like OITNB and CBS’s new pilot “Doubt,” which may feature Cox in a leading role as a transgender attorney later this year, trans representations have become far more diverse. Add to this E!'s “I Am Cait” featuring Caitlyn Jenner on the reality TV side, and viewers have the opportunity to see a wider slice of the transgender community than ever before.

Despite this progress, there's still a lot of work to do. Over the decade between 2002 and 2012, one study found that one-fifth of all non-recurring transgender characters were depicted as sex workers. And these narrow, sexualized depictions of women aren't limited to trans women either.

But it's not just about how trans women are depicted and treated in Hollywood.

Producers apparently disputed Scott's statements, dismissing her claim about being sexualized and instead told TMZ that Scott was let go "because she brought nothing interesting to the table." But it wouldn't be the first time that for a woman, bringing something interesting to the table meant taking her clothes off or at least allowing herself to be gratuitously sexualized.

Stories abound of women being asked to take on roles or perform scenes that they find demeaning in order to succeed in the entertainment sector. From actress Anne Greene — who claims that she was "bullied into performing nude scenes" while filming Cinemax's "Femme Fatales" in a lawsuit against the studio — to a woman who writes that she was "offered a dream role" only to have her contract rescinded when she objected to doing a scene with graphic nudity, there are enough horrifying stories to have spawned an entire Tumbler account dedicated to calling out the industry for its behavior called "S#!% People Say to Actresses."

http://spstactresses.tumblr.com/post/132882400600/whatever

Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain also commented on the issue recently, lamenting that women "have to be in some catsuit" in order to be a "kickass" female character in an action movie. Sigh.

Whatever the reality behind Scott's departure from "Real Housewives of Atlanta," we can certainly agree with her former co-star Kandi Burruss that it's sad to see her go. And with Scott's biting criticism of a legitimate problem in the entertainment industry, we're also looking forward to see what she does next.

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