Chaz Bono, He’s Scary!

When Chaz Bono began Dancing With The Stars he got death threats and the show faced a boycott. Psychiatrist and Fox News commentator, Dr. Keith Ablow, told parents to bar kids from watching Chaz, as seeing him could cause youngsters to want a sex change. Girls might even want to cut their breasts off, he warned.

Despite all this – and not so snazzy dance moves — Chaz stayed popular for quite a while, being booted off the show only last week. No reports yet on how many girls have asked to sever their breasts.

Plenty of people think Chaz is pretty scary. He doesn’t frighten me. Why do some feel so menaced by the transgendered?

American Indians felt differently. Before European contact, if a biological female wanted to be a man, joining men in the hunt and war, that was fine. If a biological male wanted to take on a womanly role that was a-okay, too. Among the Indians, the transgendered were something special – having a foot in both gendered worlds – and so they presided over ceremonies of major life transitions: birth, marriage and death.

But those American Indians were egalitarian, whereas homophobia and trans-fear come out of patriarchy, suggesting a clue to the anxiety’s source.

Under patriarchy, men are deemed superior. So a lot of effort goes into proving manhood and worthiness for that exalted status. If a woman can so easily become a man, how superior are males, really?

How much call do men have to head homes? To take charge? To sit at the front of the B110 bus in Brooklyn? To enjoy male privilege? If women can become men, the patriarchy falls apart. And for many men, so does their self-worth.

If a man feels self-secure he won’t be threatened by women’s equality. And he won’t be so frightened by the likes of Chaz Bono.

And sure, in a culture where people rarely see the transgendered, they can feel anxious in their disorientation.

But by strutting his stuff for all the world to see, and by being proud of who he is, perhaps Chaz will help other transgendered people to feel more secure and accepted.

Love over hate and fear.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on November 4, 2011, in feminism, gender, psychology, sexism and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. As what many have been saying this should not be a controversial topic, transgender have been part of our culture for many years. Having a transgender in dancing with stars prove that majority of Americans accept them. If you think about it Fox brought Chaz to increase their viewers not loss them. This is just another example of American moving towards equality. However there are some small pockets of inequality like bus B11o but I think it’s concentrated and not the attitudes of the majority. I really don’t think the impact that Chaz will make from dancing with the stars will be a huge deal, it unfortunately is just another television show and majority of the audience is for transgender thus not really changing the minds of the opposing parties. Definitely a plus but if many feel strongly that transgender, gays and women are unequal in today’s society. More should be done to educate the public.

  2. Alshemah Mohamed

    Chaz Bono did an awesome job on dancing with the stars. Chaz Bono is a human being and what people and the media have said is malicious and disguising. I could not believe what people were saying. Dr. Keith had not right on telling parents that they should ban their children from watching Chaz on television because they might want to have a sex change. I do not think parents will have that mindset or even think their children would want a sex change. There is nothing scary about him he is a normal person just like everybody else in this world. I am sure he was very hurt about the comments that the media and people have said. Hopefully in time people will learn to except each other and treat each other with respect.

  3. I think Dr. Keith’s claims that Chaz Bono being in the public eye will cause viewers to want a sex change is ridiculous. Conservatives despise change or anything that steps out of line of society’s expectations. Transgender surgery has become possible quite recently, and not many people can afford such luxuries. People who have gone through with the surgery face discouragement from society, particularly from conservatives. This is how the people who run our society control our way of thinking.

    I definitely feel that these homophobic remarks were made by conservative privileged people and are most likely radical Christians. They are happy with their place in life and generally content with the current status of the society they live in, which is why they fear change. When someone or something threatens to change society’s perception on life, for example, accepting being transgender as normal in society, conservatives become afraid that the world is falling into chaos, but more importantly: they are losing control.

  4. I don’t see anything frightening about a person wanting to be who they are. I agree that transgendered men who were previously women is threatening to a patriarchy, but I also think that that type of mind-set and thinking is extremely outdated. For my generation, kids in their 20s now, it seems like we all are much more open minded than past generations. I think a lot of this fear of Chaz comes from an ignorant, close minded and judgmental place. I think that if a person wants to change their appearance or body in order to feel at peace within their own skin, who is anybody else to judge them for that? Good for Chaz, more power to him. I’m sure for every one person who decides to take on the transgendered process, there is ten others who wish they had the courage to do so.

  5. People should not be outraged at the fact that Chaz Bono has decided to embrace himself. This is only another example of people creating hate. Chaz is not afraid to show who he really is and that should not scare people away, if anything it should show them that being who you are will lead you to a road of happiness. Dancing With The Stars is a great show and I still can’t believe that there was a boycott and death threats? This world of hate is only going to lead us to a world of resentment and that is not a way to live.

  6. I heard about this and thought why are people so worried? I am proud of Chaz Bono of doing Dancing With The Stars. He is not afraid of who he is. Many who loved the show decided not to watch it because he was on the show. Some even would not let their kids. First of all, the kids would not even know he is transgendered unless the parents say something. There is not a sign on his forehead pronouncing it to everyone. Also Carson Kressley is on the show and he is a gay man. I overheard someone discussing this and saying the show is too “gay.” I was in disbelief because they thought it was because of these two contestants being on it and there is dancing. I do watch the show occasionally and feel that it is great they were on it because they were not afraid of what the public would say and they had fun doing it.

  7. *Angry Bird*
    Words can not express the anger I feel as I’m writing this comment. I do not understand why this is even “controversial” topic. Transgenders are people and the only thing they change about themselves are their private parts, not their hearts and feelings. I can not begin to image how it would feel to feel the whole world on top of you because one feels uncomfortable as male and decides to change that in order to be comfortable in their OWN skin. I read about Michelle Dumaresq in my Anthro class just a couple of days ago. Michelle was born as Michael Dumaresq. She underwent surgery six years ago because she has always felt as a girl for 28 years of her life. Dumaresq is a mountain biker in Canada and was granted a certificate to compete as a woman, and MANY of her fellow bikers want to revoke her license “because she is born a man, so she is a man.” interestingly enough, one surgeon who was interview debunked the myths that people have about transgendered individuals. The Doctor said that Dumaresq at this point was “fully” a way because the treatment Michelle takes decreases everything “manly” about her like the muscles and the testosterone and so forth. So it’s really pointless for people to be pointing fingers at who is “scary” an not. Because the same treatment is given to “masculine” looking women or men who look “feminine.” And all of this is due to the socially constructed images of what it means to be male or female and anything outside that is not “normal.” As for the people who are against transgender, if you feel comfortable in your own skin then shut up because the next person does not need to hear what you think about them, YOU ARE NOT GOD. Nobody cares what you think, stop the hating people, stop it!

  8. Francesca DeVore

    I find it very interesting that as soon as a mainstream tv show shows acceptance towards someone who is transgendered, people who claim to support the show refuse to let Chaz be accepted. It is fabulous that a show like dancing with the stars reached out to Chaz but is very telling of mainstream America that hate was sparked by a transgendered person being on the show. This does also tie into gender roles of men, if a women can change their gender, their gender role as a female will then implied onto a mans dominant role. Men do seem to have more of an issue with people who identify with a different sexual orientation and use their influence as a dominant man to control others around them. Though Chaz faced threats and was under the publics eye for all to see his choice, he helped bridge the gap between those people who don’t want to accept those peoples choice, the fact that Chaz was welcomed to the show is a sign that things are starting to change for the better. Step by step as long as popular American culture beings to let in, and accept differences and break the sterotypical gender roles those individuals will no longer be able to avoid the issue and let in difference and change.

  9. I couldn’t believe when I first started reading peoples comments in the news and online when they heard that Chaz was going to be on Dancing with the Stars. They stated that they would not watch the show any longer or allow their children to watch this show. They also stated that they had considered the show wholesome family viewing until they allowed a transgendered person to appear on the show. What I don’t understand is how the children would even be aware that this person was transgendered if the parents didn’t point it out. Or even if it was announced on the show young kids would not think it was something wrong until their parents pointed it out to them. There are no indecent acts going on just the same dancing that all the contestants have always done. Yet somehow because a trangendered person is on the show it becomes indecent. A person is a person there is nothing immoral or indecent about being authentically who you are.The ironic thing is I think this was one of the most viewed series of the show and Chaz was one of the audiences favorites.

  10. I love CHAZ!! I’m proud of him and I am proud that he was brave enough to show off on TV the new him. People honestly need to get over their fears, phobia’s or whatever it is they have going on. If it’s not harming you, if its not effecting your life directly then why the hell do you care who gets what changed and why?? If you don’t care than its none of your business, that’s how I feel.
    Guys if your not secure with your sexuality than I suggest you get secure fast cause we have a lot of new MEN like CHAZ that will show you out, that will show our country how to be good fathers, how to be a good loyal man and just a well rounded gentlemen all together, so guys yes, feel threatened. Unless your already doing that than you have plenty to fear when men like Chaz come on board and show the world how a man should be. Chaz is right where he needs to be and right where he should have been.
    I remember watching an interview with Cher one day and they asked her how she felt about her son’s sex change,she said something to the effect that she thought about what it meant to her to be a woman and how much she loved being a woman, she loved her woman parts and dressing like a woman. She said if she had to dress like a man or be a man that would be uncomfortable for her and that’s when she realized and understood her son’s situation. He was not meant to be a woman like Cher was not meant to be a man and its amazing that she was able to understand that and support him.
    Chaz ROCKS!!!

  11. Honestly, I don’t watch television so had no idea that there was a transgendered person on some prime time television show.

    That is AWESOME!

    I mean, it’s totally sad that people have to be all hateful and fearful over something that has utterly NOTHING to do with their own security and safety. But HOORAY! for a show having the (pardon the irony) balls to do such a *gasp* ghastly thing.

    I still won’t be watching television any time soon, but I absolutely support crossing the lines between what’s presently socially acceptable in our culture and what isn’t.

  12. I support him fully. I sometimes don’t even know what to say when I say I support someone when they are doing something out of the norm because I almost start phrasing it like “I support him in his choice…” Which to me isnt how I feel I don’t feel it’s a choice to feel like you were born the wrong gender and to act upon it isn’t like making the choice to buy a new car or anything like that in his eyes and many other peoples eyes in the same situation they are making things right in their life finally. I am very fortunate to have been raised to not judge someone no matter what. I do also understand that in many even most parts of the cournty this kind of thing is very uncommon and seems very unnatural to them. To those people I don’t judge them I see them as less fortunate than I was to have been raised in an area that isn’t as open minded and accepting of new and different things. Unfortunately this kind of thing is going to take for people to understand and accept.
    As to what was said about how a women becoming a man makes then insecure, I say your issue isn’t Chaz, its you, and your own insecurities in life! And to men (and women) who support it thumbs up!

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