Top Model Premiere: Transgendered Isis Divides the House

Top Model Premiere: Transgendered Isis Divides the House
Jim De Yonker/CW/Landov (2)

09/04/2008 AT 12:00 AM EDT

America's Next Top Model returned for its 11th cycle Wednesday with a wacky two-hour premiere that had the contestants getting a futuristic body scan, meeting with a magician and posing in voting booths decorated to look like political issues.

By the end of the first hour, Tyra Banks and company had selected 14 girls who moved into the Top Model house in Los Angeles. Among them, Marjorie, a French immigrant; Joslyn, who has auditioned for the show "more than 30 times;" Elina, a vegan animal rights activist; and Isis, a 22-year-old transgendered woman, who was born male.

While competition and catty contestants have created drama on every cycle of Top Model, the presence of Isis, who has not had an operation to complete her male-to-female gender transition (and used "the magic of tape" while modeling a swimsuit), in the house made some contestants feel uncomfortable.

"America's Next Top Model is not going to be a drag queen," Sharaun told the camera. "I'm sorry, it's not."



Later, while Isis swam in the pool, Clark told Hannah, "It makes me uncomfortable."

"I live in a small town," Alaska native Hannah replied. "Hell yeah, we have a warped view of transgendered ."

"It's not so much a close-minded view, It's just more traditional," Clark said. "Growing up in the South, you don't exactly run into a he-she everyday. Isis has no place in this competition."

But other contestants, like cage fighter McKey, supported Isis. "She's open, she's forthright, she's not going to hide who she is from anybody," she said. "I'm a big fighter girl and I think she's tenfold more brave than I am."

The show is about modeling, after all, and so who would stay and who would go came down to who could make voting look sexy in a series of photo shoots.

After admitting that she was scared and lacked confidence in herself, Marjorie took the best photo in an immigration-themed booth. Isis, whose theme was privacy, also impressed the judges. "It's very easy to caricature someone like Isis," judge Nigel Barker said. "She really knew her light. She knew what to do. She's smart."

On the other hand, Clark struggled in a red tape-wrapped voting booth because she didn't know what her theme, bureaucracy, meant. Nikeysha, whose issue was cloning, talked back at the judges when they critiqued her photo. And the judges didn't like Sharaun's over confidence or how she spread her legs and hung herself in a homeland security booth.

In the end, Sharaun was eliminated and broke down in tears. "I wanted this so bad," she said as the other contestants consoled her with hugs.

"I know you wanted this really, really badly," Tyra told her. "But it's not just about wanting it, you have to be real."

Tell us: Did the judges make the right decision? Does Isis deserve to be in the competition?Jim De Yonker/CW/Landov (2)

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