American Idol has been accused of jumping on the transgender bandwagon purely for publicity.
Transgender singer, songwriter and activist Ryan Cassata claims he was contacted by a casting director after initially being rejected by the show.
The 21-year-old tells Billboard that in October of 2014 he was invited to audition by producers.
"I never reached out to them," he said. "Never in my life would I have been like, 'I'm going to try out for American Idol.'
However, after skipping the first 3 stages of the auditions and going straight in front of the judges, Ryan was cut (he claims he was told he wasn’t “contemporary enough”), and he thought that was the end of his Idol journey.
“I was contacted again in June (2015) after Caitlyn Jenner was in the media, and the first thing they said to me is, 'We want a transgender person on this show',” he said. “They don’t want a singer and transgender; they want someone that’s transgender and a singer, and that’s not the right reason to go on the show. So now I’m 'contemporary enough' because being trans is such a hot-button issue in the media right now.”
In a YouTube video and a post on his Facebook page last week, Ryan slammed the show for their exploitation, sexism and racism:
The show responded afetr the note went viral, writing in a statement, "American Idol searches far and wide to ensure that talent in any part of the country has a chance to audition. There are various ways for individuals to audition including our open calls, posting their auditions online, our east and west coast bus tours, through partner apps, etc. Our audition team has often reached out to former participants to audition again. Many find that their voice improves over a year and they have greater success in their second or third attempt. American Idol is about finding great talent and the show welcomes diversity in its participants. We will look into the veracity of the statements in Ryan Cassata’s open letter."
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