Billie Lee is a transgender woman who joined the cast of Vanderpump Rules in season six of the popular Bravo Reality TV show. Lee’s introduction to VR represented a significant moment in transgender representation on reality television and propelled her to a position of immense importance for transgender visibility in one of the nation’s most popular TV programs.
However, in season 7, Billie’s narrative quickly grew to focus on her gender identity- the fallout of which caused significant outrage and debate both among her castmates and the general public. While not everybody follows Vanderpump Rules, Billie’s inclusion and the treatment of her story at a national level is an important cultural bellwether.
VICE went to LA to meet the woman behind the show, and to better understand how the nuanced nature of how trans narratives are handled by reality TV — and what we can learn from Billie’s experiences.
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