Chaz Bono's presence on DWTS ignites controversy

September 19, 2011 3:50:27 AM PDT
The new season of ABC's Dancing With the Stars is set to premier Monday night, but it comes with some new controversy.

It's over one of the contestants: Chaz Bono, the transgendered son of Cher.

He recently underwent surgery to complete his transition from female to male, and some people say he has no place on a family-friendly show.

With each pop of the camera flash and each step, Bono gets a little closer to his first night on DWTS.

But Bono's new role comes with plenty of controversy -- much of it on the internet.

On ABC13's own website, user 'bluedsy' wrote, "ABC's DWTS used to be a fun, safe show to watch with children. Are they trying to force people to have to explain to their kids?"

The Houston Pastor's Council, has spoken out against transgenders in the past, is also standing up against Bono's presence on the show.

"We believe very clearly God doesn't make mistakes. God says he created the male and female," said Dave Welch, executive director of the Houston Pastor's Council. "Now we have an increasing number of families struggling with this. Tommy Araguz the firefighter marries someone he thought was a woman."

Lou Weaver is a transgender man. To him, Bono's appearance is not so much political as personal inspiration.

"I think it's incredible to show him doing something he wants to do, that anybody else can do. And to show [transgendered] people just like anybody else," he said.

Weaver was born female. He's been on testosterone for three years.

"Before transition, I felt a little awkward, a little funny," he said. "[Now] I feel great. I feel like I'm living my life the way that I should be living my life."

After years of working in grocery stores, Weaver is now a student at the University of Houson and is also active at the Transgender Center -- a resource for transgendered men and women in southeast Texas.

There are no concrete numbers on how many people in Texas or the U.S. do not identify with their birth genders. The center's executive director, Cristan Williams, says Bono is just trying to live life.

"I'm glad that children who are like me live in an age where they can turn on the television and see people like them living normal, happy, productive lives," Williams said.

Bono went on Good Morning America to say he just wants to dance.

"I'm going to be dancing. I'm not going to be up on there talking about anything other than dancing," he said.

But Welch is urging people not to watch.

"As far as the show goes, we'd say skip it. Watch a good ol' movie. I don't think there's any reason at all to watch this program," Welch said.

That is advice Weaver, at least, won't be heeding.

"I'll definitely watch it," he said. "I want to see how he's doing and I want to make sure I can call in and vote."

We contacted the American Family Association for comment, but were declined.

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