NBC’s The Voice has a meaningful track record when it comes to LGBTQ representation. The singing reality competition has featured a number of openly gay contestants, and has even been nominated twice for Outstanding Reality Program at the GLAAD Media Awards — once in 2012 and once this year.
But The Voice made history this week (Mar. 5), when Angel Bonilla took the the stage as the show’s first transgender contestant. “As early as five years old, I already knew that I am a girl trapped in a boy’s body,” the contestant told host Carson Daly. “Growing up in a very conservative family, it was very difficult for my father.”
She continued, saying, “When my dad saw me as a girl for the first time, he was puzzled. He’s not sure if I am his son, but he embraced me. I promised him that I will do great things. I wanted my father to be proud of me, and I’m doing this to honor him.”
After auditioning with a moving rendition of Sam Smith’s “Lay Me Down,” Bonilla was able to join the ranks of Adam Levine’s team, earning a spot in the show’s next round.
Last season of The Voice featured drag queen Chris Weaver, who performs under the name Nedra Bell. While Weaver was unable to make it past the playoff rounds of the show, he was featured in a stunning performance of “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” with pop star Jessie J.
Watch a montage of Bonilla’s audition below.