Trans influencer's plea to MAFS producers ahead of 'gender diverse' season

EXCLUSIVE: Members of the trans community have shared their thoughts on the casting news.

Yahoo Lifestyle revealed last week that Married At First Sight bosses are “actively pursuing” transgender and gender-diverse participants for the show’s upcoming 12th season, which is set to start filming within the next eight weeks.

As the news was then discussed and debated across social media, members of the trans community have now issued a plea to producers of the social experiment not to sensationalise the inclusion of any transgender cast members, and to treat their storylines “sensitively”.

Transgender influencer and activist Zaylee Doll / MAFS experts.
Transgender influencer and activist Zaylee Doll has shared her thoughts on MAFS casting trans and gender-diverse participants. Photos: Instagram/zayleedoll_ / Channel Nine

Zaylee Doll, a Sydney-based transgender influencer and activist, told Yahoo Lifestyle: “I believe MAFS has a responsibility when casting trans people. The media usually feed off the negative because that’s what gets views and attention so I do believe they could portray a trans participant this way, but [this just perpetuates hate].”

The influencer explained that trans people already have to “forever defend themselves” from prejudice, misconceptions and transphobia without the potential of Australia’s biggest reality show fuelling even more negativity.


Despite her hesitations, Zaylee added that she is excited by the decision to make the upcoming season more diverse and reflective of today’s society.

“One of the hardest obstacles myself and other trans people face in our journey through life is finding love, I’ve never experienced love and my main goal in life is to have a loving family – so it’s great Nine want to give us the opportunity at finding love just like everyone else,” Zaylee said.

“I’m so very happy and proud to see the inclusion of my community on Australian TV because it gives us a platform to showcase our journey and it also gives a huge opportunity for our voice to be heard.”

MAFS UK star Ella.
MAFS UK featured the show’s first-ever trans participant Ella Morgan last year. Photo: E4

A second trans woman, who said she was not comfortable being named or pictured publicly, said they fear producers will “set up” any trans participant to be part of some kind of “bombshell storyline” where they’re matched with somebody unaware of their gender journey.

“This show thrives off controversy, I just pray they approach this sensitively because how they present any trans participant will reflect on the entire community,” they said, adding that the inclusion should be approached with “full transparency” rather than using them for “shock value”.

Although Channel Nine has yet to confirm its plans for a gender-diverse cast, the lengthy application process for season 12 features an entire section dedicated to quizzing potential stars if they’ve ever been in a relationship with someone who identifies as transgender or non-binary, and if they would be open to being matched with someone who is.

Casting producers also prod all applicants on any same-sex experiences they’ve previously had or would be open to having on-camera – regardless of their sexual orientation.


A source connected to the show tells Yahoo Lifestyle that the Australian producers have been inspired by MAFS UK, who cast the reality show’s first-ever trans participant Ella Morgan last year.

Married At First Sight UK led the way last year by casting an openly trans bride, which caused huge discussion and discourse all around the world,” the source shares. “Producers are now under immense pressure to raise the bar on our version to keep the format fresh.”

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