Reality TV’s first transgender star, Miriam Rivera, has died. She rose to fame during the early 2000s, starring in two reality shows.
Rivera was best known for her role on a British reality television show, There’s Something About Miriam, which aired back in 2004 on Sky 1, as well as her guest appearance on Big Brother Australia’s fourth season. There’s Something About Miriam’s production company, Endemol, was sued by contestants for conspiracy to commit sexual assault, defamation, and for having suffered from psychological injury. The contestants were upset that Rivera had waited to the final episode to share with them that she was transgender. Tom Rooke, who was the winner, accepted the $10,000 prize money and vacation, but he later returned the winnings and joined the other cast members in their lawsuit. The production company settled for an unknown amount, but it was figured to be around $500,000 each.
Rivera was the world’s first openly transgender reality television star. She died in Mexico at only 38 years old on February 5, and her death had been listed due to mysterious circumstances. Daily Mail reported that even though Rivera had died months ago, the information surrounding her death only appeared on Friday.
Rivera’s husband, Daniel Cuervo was told that the police found Rivera's body in their apartment after she allegedly hanged herself. Cuervo disputes the police report saying he suspected foul play. On the day of her death, her husband said Rivera called from Mexico saying she had been throwing up blood and went to the hospital to seek out medical attention. After her death, Cuervo told authorities that when he was planning Rivera’s funeral, he was contacted by an unknown male and told not to come back to Mexico or he would be killed, too. The Mexican police refused to fly her body to New York City and before Cuervo could see his wife’s body; she had already been cremated, leaving no chance for an autopsy.
Most recently, Rivera was injured in New York while trying to escape an intruder in 2007. Rivera was also a spokesperson for the New York ballroom scene’s legendary House of Xtravaganza with its members being recognized for their influence in the areas of dance, visual arts, and community activism. Rivera will be remembered for her trailblazing work and brave battle to be acknowledged in the transgender community, helping the transgender youth to be more comfortable in their skin.