Waltzing and Educating, Chaz Bono to Appear on Dancing With the Stars
September 1, 2011 by Allyson Robinson, Deputy Director for Employee Programs, Workplace Project
The following post is from Allyson Robinson, HRC Deputy Director of Diversity:
When Chaz Bono, son of mega-star Cher and her late husband Sonny Bono, began speaking publicly about his gender transition from female to male it sparked a national conversation about transgender issues. The announcement this week by ABC that Chaz would appear as a contestant on the network’s wildly popular reality show Dancing with the Stars, however, caused a different kind of stir. The comments I’ve seen and heard have ranged from the supportive to the confused; a few have been downright offensive. It’s all highlighted for me many Americans’ inexperience with transgender and gender-variant people and the work that lies ahead of us to secure equal rights for all.
Judging by the reactions I’ve seen, ABC may have lost a viewer or two, but given what I’m hearing from my friends and family the choice of Chaz has gained them even more. I’ll certainly be watching. I have no doubt that the man can dance, but beyond that I’m even more certain that Chaz will represent himself, his family, and transgender people everywhere with the same style and grace he’s demonstrated since he announced his transition.
Some even have wondered if the show’s viewers will vote to allow a transgender man to continue to compete, regardless of how well he can dance. I’m not concerned. Americans are good and fair people. In a recent poll conducted by HRC, 79% said they favor employment laws to ensure LGBT people are judged by the quality of their work and not by their gender identity or sexual orientation, and 74% say they believe discrimination against transgender people is a significant problem in our country. As Chaz works the dance floor, I expect viewers will prove these statistics true and will judge him on his moves, not his medical history.
I’m proud of Chaz’s courage and I can’t wait to see him on the dance floor. As the proverbial girl-who-can’t-dance, I’m hoping I can learn a thing or two. I know viewers will learn more than that from Chaz’s appearance on the show. Best of luck from your friends at HRC, Chaz!
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