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September 8, 2011

5 Things We're Already Sick Of Hearing About Chaz Bono On Dancing With The Stars

The new season of Dancing with the Stars doesn't premiere until September 19, but we feel like we've already heard more about it than the last few seasons put together thanks to the presence of Chaz Bono in the cast. A lot of people have a lot of feelings about Chaz being on the show, and unfortunately (but predictably) much of the commentary has been ignorant and transphobic. The same stupid arguments keep popping up again and again in the comments that we've read, so we put together a quick roundup of the main things that we're already tired of hearing about this situation.

1. Dancing with the Stars is supposed to be a family show! Won't someone please think of the children?

This is one of the most popular arguments that keeps coming up, even though it doesn't make much sense. FoxNews.com even cut right to the chase and posted an article called "Don’t Let Your Kids Watch Chaz Bono On 'Dancing With the Stars'". According to them, if "vulnerable" children see a transgendered person on TV, it will screw up the development of their own gender identities. The One Million Moms got into the act too with an action alert warning Christian families against watching the show. And here are a few representative comments from the cast announcement on ABC.com:
It saddens me that we can no longer watch this show with our children. We do not approve of the line up. ABC, please make this a family friendly show in the future and maybe get actual stars or change the name of the show! Thank you.

I think it's an atrocity. I and a lot of my friends and everyone I come in contact with, will definitely not be watching this show. There is no way I'd want my grandchildren to be exposed to this. Chaz did this of her/his own accord. They need to be reading the Bible and following God's word. Chaz is part woman and I guess part male, who would want to be like this unless for publicity.

Now, I rarely watch DWTS, but unless they've drastically changed the format recently and I missed a memo, the last time I checked it was a reality show about dancing. They're not going to open each episode with a long monologue about transgendered people. In fact, if parents didn't tell their kids that one of the contestants was a trans man, most of them probably would never notice or care.

And even if it does come up on the show, is it really that big of a deal? If all of these ignorant people can find all of this time to complain about this online, I'm sure they could take five minutes to figure out how to explain the issue to their children with an age appropriate level of intolerance and bigotry. The unfortunate thing is that these people don't realize that they're doing more harm to their kids with their transphobic freakouts than the mere presence of LGBT people on TV could ever dream of doing.

It's also not as if DWTS was the most wholesome and "family friendly" show of all time before this. The OMM gave a shoutout to the skimpiness of some of the costumes in their action alert, and previous seasons have featured people like Kendra Wilkinson (Playboy), Lance Bass (gay), Kim Kardashian (sex tape), Brooke Burke (Playboy, Maxim, Stuff, FHM, etc.), and Pam Anderson (Playboy, general Pam Andersonness). I guess having a gay man (Carson Kressley) and a trans man on in the same season has just crossed the line. Maybe ABC can atone next season by filling the entire cast with Palin family members.

2. Chaz is only doing this to push the LGBT agenda.

What would a manufactured controversy like this be without the "gay agenda" argument? At least bigots like the One Million Moms are predictable:
Both [Chaz Bono and fellow contestant Carson Kressley] are LGBT rights advocates and promote this destructive lifestyle. DWTS is helping them create visibility for the LGBT community. This is completely unacceptable and Christians should not watch the show, no excuses! ...Email ABC Network and let them know that we will not tolerate these subjects being forced into our homes.
Did you hear that, Christians? No excuses! Don't let the OMM catch you watching the first two members of the LGBT community to ever participate in ballroom dancing. Because if you watch a gay or transgendered person dance on a TV show, you might become gay, or spontaneously decide that you're transgendered too, or start to cultivate one tolerant and accepting bone in your body, or...something.

We have to wonder how some of the people who are complaining now would have reacted if we were going around putting out action alerts and petitions last season asking DWTS to ditch Bristol Palin and stop promoting an abstinence-only agenda. And while we're sure that the producers of the show knew what they were doing and how much publicity they would get with their "controversial" cast choices, we still thought that DWTS executive producer Conrad Green dismissed the "LGBT agenda" argument really well in his comments to the Hollywood Reporter: "We don't have an agenda of any sorts. I think of the 120 celebrities we've put on the show, we've had, I think now, three transgender or gay contestants. If that's a homosexual agenda, we're not doing very well at it."

3. All variations on calling Chaz "she", "him/her", "she-male", "she'll always be Chastity", etc.

The really sad thing is that some of the people doing this actually thought they were being witty and clever. (We did get a laugh out of one polite bigot on ABC.com who referred to Chaz as "Mr. or Ms. Bono".) I'd almost pity them if I wasn't too busy being offended by their willful ignorance. I don't even really know where to start with this...but I do know where to end. Chaz is a man. He, him, his. Period.

4. Is Chaz going to be paired with a male or female dancer?

The One Million Moms made a point of mentioning this in their action alert and we've seen a bunch of other comments about it elsewhere.
Kressley will be paired up with a female dancer, and since Chasity [sic], transformed to Chaz after her sex change in 2009, will also be paired with a female dancer. [OMM]

I can't stomach the thought of watching Chaz dance with another girl. [Moron on Facebook via Buzzfeed]
This is a little confusing to us. First there's the obvious reason - since Chaz Bono and Carson Kressley are both men and DWTS apparently has no plans to experiment with same-sex dance partners anytime soon, they're both paired with women. But beyond that...well, would the people who are offended that Bono and Kressley are even part of the cast in the first place feel better about the situation if the show had decided to throw same-sex partnering into the mix as well?

The producers claim that part of the reason that they haven't tried any same-sex couples is because then it might look like they were trying to promote some kind of agenda, or pair people based on sexual orientation, rather than just putting together a ballroom dancing competition. We're not sure we entirely agree, but this argument makes a hell of a lot more sense than whatever nonsense the One Million Moms of the world are trying to sell.

5. I'm totally not transphobic, but Chaz still shouldn't be on the show because he's fat, ugly, not a real celebrity, etc.

Yes, we know that it's the internet and Chaz is definitely not the first DWTS contestant to be fat-shamed or otherwise criticized for their looks, and it's certainly not the first time a cast member has been called out for not really being a "star". But a lot of the comments along these lines about Chaz seem to be particularly forceful and/or venomous - we don't remember people caring this much about the fact that Steve Wozniak was not exactly a hunk or a star - and it ends up coming across more like an excuse for some thinly veiled transphobia. This comment from ABC.com illustrates it perfectly:
Although I am not bothered by Chaz Bono's gender reversal, I think he is such a terribly poor choice for DWTS because he is so obese and trashy looking. I am a grandmother that would be opposed to his participation based on his transgender status if I had children in the home.
It's hard to refute that very logical argument.

As an antidote to all of that transphobia and ignorance (yes, we know that those words really got a workout in this post, but sometimes it just is what it is), here are a couple of our favorite posts about this topic:

-Chaz Bono on TV: Explaining Heterosexual Dancing to the Children from Tranifesto:
The Dancing with the Stars website is littered with these concerned comments – How am I going to explain this to my five-year-old? What will I tell the children? We’re not going to be watching this season, because I don’t want my children to see this!

I understand. It is concerning when children are exposed to heterosexual dancing. At best, a man dancing with a woman seems just a tad bit edgy – and worst-case scenario, it’s just plain immoral. After all, you know what dancing leads to! I believe they covered that a long time ago in the movie Footloose (when today’s concerned parents were kids).

-Dancing with the Stars: A Great Opportunity to Talk to Your Kids from Queen of Spain:
So thank you One Million Moms and Fox News for making a big deal out of all of this. It gave me the opportunity to discuss the transgendered community with my children. It gave me the opportunity to remind them that everyone is different. It gave me the opportunity to discuss bigots, hate, and evil. And it gave me the opportunity to show the world that some of us mothers are not afraid to talk to our kids and we know exactly what to tell them: the truth.


Yandie, Goddess of Pickles. said...

Whole thing is so blown out of proportion.. Kids actually have a pretty easy time dealing with these topics if parents don't make a big deal of it.

I remember once watching The Surreal Life (don't you judge me!) when Alexis Arquette was on.. my oldest who was maybe four at the time walked in and exclaimed "Mommy! That lady has a MAN VOICE!".

I just told her yes, because she used to be a man. Some people aren't happy being a boy or a girl, so they decide to live like the other (Four is a bit young to get into real deep gender theory a la Judith Butler, so I left it at girls/boys).

That seemed to satisfy her. Easy peasy, so relax, christian conservatives.. a few transgendered folks on TV aren't about to turn us all into pillars of salt.


Yandie - Great comment, but our favorite thing about it has to be that you're generous enough to act like we're in any position to judge anyone else's questionable TV show choices.

kbwriting said...

Queen of Spain has it exactly right. Maybe the OMMs can borrow that when their kids ask them why men are dancing with women on TV.

Kristin said...

I am so damned proud of my oldest son right now. He heard me say "Oh dear god" and, when I told him what the fuss (from FoxNews) was about, he said, "Big deal. He was a girl. Now, he's a guy. So what."

Anonymous said...

The thing that kills me is that if Jesus were here now, he'd be hangin' with Chaz, not the OMM.

Jesus was the ultimate liberal. The fakely pious Pharisees hated him and he was no fan of theirs with their rigid rules and inability to accept others. It was them, the "religious right" of the day, that ultimately, led the charge to put Jesus to death.

Whatever happened to "whatsoever you do for the least of my brothers, that you do unto me". To me that means give Chaz a break, he's just as much a child of God as anyone else.

livinonfaith said...

Yep, Kristin, you said exactly what I feel about the whole Christianity versus homosexuality/transgender/other religions/basically anything that Christians don't happen to be comfortable with.

As I read it, the message that Jesus was most concerned with was one of brotherhood and love. He repeatedly urged people to love across cultural, political and social boundaries.

Condo Blues said...

When I heard Chaz was going to be on the show, my main concern was that he'd have even more pressure put on him to do well because his is SONNY AND CHER'S kid and appeared on their variety show as a child.

As for all of these BS about being a bad example for kids because they happen to see someone who self identifies as trans. Wha?! I guess they never walk down the street or go out in public? Because there are GLBT people everywhere in the world. That's what makes the world awesome.