Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

Why I'll Be Watching Dancing With The Stars This Year

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | September 03, 2011 8:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: AFA, American Family Association, Chaz Bono, Dancing With The Stars, DWTS, homophobic behavior, OneMillionMoms.com, transphobia

chaz_dwts.jpgI don't even own a television. It's not a moral stance, I just prefer other pursuits. But I'm going to find a friend on Monday, September 19 at 8pm ET, and watch the show. While I like and support Chaz Bono, that alone is not an important consideration in my decision. I have no idea whether he is a good dancer or not, and, frankly, watching people dance is not high on my list of priorities. But seeing the negative reaction by the transphobes and homophobes crawling out of the woodwork to denounce this man's right to simply perform a dance, I feel a moral imperative to watch the show, and cast my vote. Hearing the crazy reaction by Monica Cole, director of OneMillionMoms.com (which has only 34,000 Facebook fans), a project of the American Family Association hate group, I can't let this go by without speaking up.

"We will not be able to watch the show with Chaz on there," Monica Cole told "Inside Edition" on Wednesday. "This is going to be very confusing for children, and should not be included in their cast."

The ABC website and facebook page announcing his participation was clogged with thousands of nasty, ugly remarks.

As Chaz Bono himself bravely said,

"You know, it just kind of shows why for me it's important to be on the show, because so little still is known about what it means to be transgender," he told ABC News. "And there's so many just completely inaccurate stereotypes and thoughts that people have."

I agree with Howard Bragman, Chaz's publicist, that the publicity generated by Chaz's participation is a golden opportunity for a teachable moment in America. Most people don't see or hear anything about transgender and transsexual people. This show will reach millions. He also rightly pointed out that, contrary to the assertion that this is going to be harmful to children, it will in fact save childrens' lives.

"Watching Chaz Bono dance is not going to make your kid transgender," Bragman told "GMA." "But what it can do is possibly save your kids life because young transgender kids, kids with gender identity issues, have a huge suicide rate and if they see one positive influence, one positive role model, this can save lives and that's why Chaz is here."

"No way he's going to back down," Bragman added. "This has really reinforced his decision to be on the show."

It's also reinforced my decision to watch the show. Will you be watching?


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Rachel Bellum | September 3, 2011 8:36 AM

I also don't have access to TV at home, but if there's a way for me to support Chaz's appearance(s) I will (though I have no interest in the show otherwise).

The "industry" take on this controversy doesn't appear to be one of great surprise or concern:

"Galinsky is empathetic with audiences who want to tune out: 'This is confusing to some people. People get scared when they're confused. But people who say they're disgusted or not going to watch the show — that's absolutely not true. Those are the very people who will watch, because they're curious.

Industry insiders such as Roy Bank, president of television for Merv Griffin agree: 'DTWS' will not lose viewers over this. 'Someone like Chaz will bring in a larger demographic than if they had just gone straight down the line with singers or actors,' said Bank."


It appears the constant threats of "I'll never watch this again" while ratings remain solid are only encouraging producers to continue in the same vein.

Kathy Padilla | September 3, 2011 10:06 AM

I sympathize with Ms. Cole. Mr. Bono's decisision to have transgender related medical treatment while dancing while on televisiion would be confusing to explain to children.

Perhaps he should just dance?

Chaz is being attacked for something other than dancing. So, unfortunately, Ms. Cole and others have made the conversation not about "just dancing." And once you turn the conversation away from that, you can't expect to just passively ignore very hateful and violent attacks directed toward you.

Kathy, I'm guessing your response is a joking one. It took me a minute, though. I didn't get the part about "having transgender medical treatment while dancing" for a few secs. Though perhaps it's a good idea, and would make a good reality show topic.

Kathy Padilla | September 3, 2011 12:03 PM

Well - we all know that having to explain a joke makes a statement about it's effectiveness.

But - what exactly do people like Cross & Ablow really want? Since the only thing Chaz will be doing is dancing like any other contestant - they're real agenda is to control how people like myself are portrayed IF we're allowed to participate in the same public sphere that they do - and what they want to have said about us isn't motivated by respect or concern for the moral development of children ..... or adults.

If it were; they'd have raised concerns over the effect on children of having a convicted felon on the show - what effect does normalizing that behavior have on kids. Where were they when Tom Delay was let on the show? No one's accusing Chaz of a crime or abusing the public trust.

I am proud of Shaz for doing this and he is right, people do have big misconceptions about transsexuals. I'm a transwoman myself and a college student. I have been a guest a speaker for many of my teachers classes over the past 3 years telling my story and educating students the truth about transsexuals. My teachers ask me to do it and I gladly volunteer because with each new class I see the students minds open up and ask questions as well as watch the misconceptions fade away. I think most peoples' misconceptions stem from the trans community being lumped into the same group as the lesbians and gays. People see us as some other form of sexual perversion. For the trans community it has never been about sexual orientation but more about ones identity and feeling like they were born deformed. The unhappiness associated with having a mind that doesn't match ones body is greatly misunderstood by most unless you are the one going through it. I'm very proud of Chaz and support him in his ventures. It is people like Chaz who shed light on the truth about transsexuals that will hopefully stop the hate crimes against our community. Good luck Chaz.

Did they have to explain how Bristol Palin got knocked-up when she was in high school or how Tom Delay was a crook and bigot? They were both on DWTS and I don't recall those segments? How about a segment with fellow contestant Rod Artest explaining his 2007 domestic violence arrest? More kids see their mothers bashed by their male partners than will encounter Chaz Bono... doesn't the program offer those kids some explanation as to why they have a wife-beater on the program?

Stonewall Girl Stonewall Girl | September 4, 2011 5:28 PM

Gina, you have just exposed the hypocrisy of our enemies! I think that exposure of the consistent hypocrisy must loudly and consistently be enforced!

I may or may not be watching. I was never a fan of the show, and you would still have to wade through the other people to get to see Chaz dance. Besides, Entertainment Tonight gives a very detailed report on DWTS the night after. It's like getting Cliff Notes on the show.

On Fox, that night is the new Steven Spielberg Sci-Fi show Tera Nova. I think that will draw me more then DWTS. I have to be loyal to my Sci-Fi roots. Being trans is not my whole life.

"Klaatu barata nektoe" for you, fellow SF fan!

When The Old Ones come to take you away, please ask if they have room for me, too.

A.J., I'll make sure they assimilate you along with me. I don't plan on resisting.

I just hope there no gremlins outside my airplane window.

"The signpost up ahead . . . "

While I like and respect Chaz Bono, and while I applaud his desire to provide a positive role model for the trans community, I cannot bring myself to watch one second of the insipid Dancing With the Stars television show. I tried it, found it to be a total waste of time, and won't do it again. I do think the ad hominem attacks on Chaz by the far-right wackos are patently ridiculous and mean-spirited, as such things usually are. My guess is that the voting for and against Chaz by the viewers will polarize the audience and provide for endless hours of speculation by some. In any case, good luck to Chaz. I won't be watching, but that says more about my low opinion of the show in general than it does about Chaz Bono.

"I don't even own a television."

Can I come live with you? ;) My partner and myself own one and I like watching movies and television shows on DVD but I would love nothing better to do then to throw the cable box in the trash. My boyfriend refuses and since he pays the cable bill, there's little I can do. It's not the content, every medium has it's trashy/badly written/crass stories, but rather the god-damn ads are what drive me up the wall and across the ceiling.

Anyway, I imagine that DWTS has a fairly conservative audience base. Putting Chaz on therefore was probably the most daring thing the producers could have done. I won't be watching, but I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that he does well.

Like Dr. Weiss, I haven't seen the need to own a television in quite a few years. However, while I considered finding a way to stream the episode, I realized that I'd probably be asleep when it goes on, as I work graveyard. Not really by choice, just have no other options. And if I fuck my sleep schedule too much my job is affected, and I barely make enough as it is to risk fucking with that.

What the f---! So, are parents going to point out to their children, "Look! See that guy? He used to be a girl! You can do that , too." Damn, the idiots are all around us! Chaz looks like a guy, acts like a guy and will dance like a guy. (Hopefully, better than an average guy.) Children will see him as just another guy, assuming their stupid parents keep their holes shut.

And then, ". . . and make them trans." Do we need to go into that stupid combination of words? We could have guess that Faux News would spit urine out of their mouths to protect their lineup for that night. They're sleezebags. I wish Tera Nova could be moved to a different network. Damn.

When I was a child back in the mid-portion of the 1st half of the last century, I used to sing with gusto in Sunday School the little song that follows:

Jesus loves the little children, All the children of the world.
Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight,
Jesus loves the litle children of the world.

When I knew I was gay and learned that the church that taught me that song did not love gay children, I felt like my church had lied to me and played a game of "gotcha." I have suggested that the words should be changed to read:

Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world,
Red and yellow, black and white, there can't be an lgbt or q in sight,
Jesus loves almost all the children of the world.

I'll bet the "million moms" group piously and "Holier-than-thou"-ly still uses the former lyrics.

I want to watch this season. I want to support Chaz, and I have adored Carson for years. We likely will watch it - my lady actually loves the show, although I've pretty much avoided it for the most part.

But I wish, oh, how I wish, it wasn't opposite Tera Nova!