Indeed, according to ABC, OneMillionMoms.com, a Conservative Christian group, came out very strongly against Mr. Bono's inclusion on the show, telling ABC's "Inside Edition," "This is going to be very confusing for children," and encouraging all of its members to write letters to all of the show's sponsors urging them to drop their support. Additionally, many viewers left comments to the announcement on ABC's website, which are captured by Zimbio.com:
- You have to literally forsake God, His Word, and common sense to call homosexuality good, normal and acceptable. Chaz is a contestant because of her radical decision; there is no other good reason. There is another gay contestant this season, which makes it obvious that ABC is making a statement…
- Sorry to burst your bubble but God does not get a kick out of homosexuality nor the transgendered. As a matter of fact he destroyed two cities because of homosexuaity…
- I think I am done watching Dancing with the stars. None of these people are stars and I sure don’t want to watch and overweight transgendered person try to make a statement for his lifestyle choice. I want entertainment not social statements …
- It is disgraceful for ABC to take advantage of ‘former’ stars’ mentally ill children. Having a confused person paraded out for everyone to laugh at is not entertaining. It’s just sad and vulgar.
- How sad we continue to drink the Holllywood Koolade...I'm thinking the Good Ole Days really were good...It's not just DWTS...it's all of TV now. How awful for our kids .
- It's not hard to figure out why the Muslims in the Middle East hate us! Figure it out...they never bothered us for centuries until our morals went bad. No way. We have always looked forward to DWTS but this year it will be banned from all televisions in the house. How do I explain Chaz Bono to my 7 year old daughter? Um well she says she's a he but he looks like a he only he has she parts. Ridiculous. Way to ruin a good family show.
- 1. Chastity Bono is not a star; she is the child of two stars. 2. ABC is giving its seal of approval to body mutilation for those with gender identity disorder. 3. It is not bigoted to state facts. 4. It is very Christian and loving to show a person her error, so that she may either correct it or at least not wallow in her sin. Chastity Bono should live a chaste life. 5. Not accepting social anarchy does not make one hateful. 6. The word "hate" has been co-opted by those who wish to paint others who simply disagree with them in a bad light. It is no longer used in its proper sense, as in "despise."
Source: ABC News. Surprisingly, or unsurprisingly, common themes running throughout the negative comments are Mr. Bono's presence and its effects on children, interfering with religious beliefs, "Liberal Hollywood" forcing its views down other peoples' throats, and the fact that Bono's presence is indicative that he intends to force his choices and beliefs on DWTS's viewers. Which begs my question: why? Why is an otherwise upstanding person, with no criminal record or any other record of being even impolite, the center of such a whirlwind of hate-mongering and bigotry? Why does the presence of one person on a dance contest television show create such hype, even though someone like entertainer Lil' Kim, convicted of three counts of conspiracy and one count of perjury, get much less flack?
Could it be, in part, because of gender-based power dynamics, highlighted by feminist legal scholars such as Catharine MacKinnon? Perhaps it also makes people uncomfortable because people who do not experience Gender Identity Disorder do not understand why a person might feel uncomfortable being labeled as one gender rather than the other. Additionally, some might even posit that the advances made by first- and second-wave feminists have created the idea that because men and women are equal, extreme psychological discomfort with one's gender is not a serious enough issue to result in a physical transformation of one's (gendered) body.
Due in part to my fascination with sexual orientation, gender identity, and their interplay with the law, I cannot help but also notice how deeply ingrained sex, or gender, markers have become within the law. Many marriage statutes, and many of the laws affected by the Defense of Marriage Act, turn on one's legal gender with relation to the legal gender of the people with whom one legally associates, particularly in marriage but also in any close family setting. And yet, gender markers can be found on many identification papers that have nothing to do with legal status. For example, I recently learned that the Philadelphia metropolitan transportation association (SEPTA) regularly issues monthly bus passes with "M" or "F" stickers on them, in order to "prevent fraud." It seems clear that gender non-conforming individuals with bus passes could easily be policed and prosecuted if the bus drivers do not believe their presented gender matches the sticker on their bus pass.
Gender is so wrapped up in identity that in order to completely transition as a transgender person, one must go through a legal process to acquire a court order to change gender markers on all relevant documents. Interestingly, even if one's gender markers are all legally changed, one still might run into bars on legal rights with respect to marriage, family rights, and inheritance because of one's birth gender. See, e.g., Littleton v. Prange. 9 S.W.3d 223 (Tex. Civ. App. 1999), cert. denied 531 U.S. 872, 121 S.Ct. 174, 148 L.Ed.2d 119 (2000).
Also of concern to me is the idea that transitioning genders somehow indicates that someone is morally depraved or a sexual deviant. Gender and sexual attraction certainly do have some links. But many fail to understand that one's genitals and gender markers oftentimes have many more legal implications than just the kind of person one is attracted to--none of which have anything to do with a likelihood of sexual depravity.
And, what about Chaz Bono, who was born to mega-celebrities Sonny and Cher Bono, and whose sexual orientation and gender identity and subsequent transition have thrust him onto center-stage as a spokesperson for transgender issues across the country? Chaz never had a choice about whether these deeply personal issues affecting his core identity would be something about which virtually all of those around him would know, regardless of whether he chose to share them. Whether or not he wanted it, Mr. Bono will hopefully make history. LGBT activist Erica Keppler wrote today in The Huffington Post,
With any luck, it will eventually prove to be a milestone in the advancement of transgender people and progress in transgender rights. Perhaps by virtue of being born into fame, he is really the first transsexual to break beyond the barrier of being known only for their transgenderness and being seen, perhaps even being allowed to be seen, as more than just a transsexual. He is breaking through the barrier of the glaring sensationalism of having changed sex and is being able to present a real, complete human being to the world.With any luck, brave spokespersons like Chaz Bono can further help this country begin to disengage from centuries of sex discrimination and gender power politics. And, perhaps one day gender markers will be unnecessary to determine any legal issue before the court, and will therefore be eliminated from public documents and legal disputes. Until then, we must all work to overcome the burdens we were born with in the form of sex organs and secondary sex hormones. Despite the negative outbursts, Chaz Bono's support from many has been a refreshing reminder that not all hope is lost.