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The first time I saw Chaz Bono she went by the name Chastity and I was moving into her mother, Cher’s, house in New York’s Greenwich Village as her mother was moving out. Chas (as she was known as then) had long blonde hair, was in a band and looked like a pretty young woman.

When Chastity began her transition (which by the way is the title of his book) from female to male and became known as Chaz, my first thought was “Good for, him. Whatever makes him happy” and I didn’t think anything more of it. It also didn’t turn my head when I heard Chaz was going to be on Dancing With the Stars, partnering with a female.

To each their own. But what did get my attention was reports of public outcries for boycotts of Dancing With The Stars, protests and hate mail being slammed at both ABC and Chaz himself.

This, I thought to myself, is sadly what America, in many ways, still is… A far cry from my own insular reality of progressive friends, co-workers and neighborhood big city folk who have seen it all, embrace change and stand as beacons for tolerance.

Only a few months ago, New York City, the biggest melting pot in the world, passed the same sex marriage bill which was a long time coming. And we have many more states to go before we can call America a gay friendly country.

When you throw in the transgender lifestyle and all that it implies, many people still view that as a choice (and a sinful one at that).

Personally, I cannot imagine anyone waking up one morning and saying to themselves “Hey! Today I think it would be cool to book an appointment to have my breasts removed and take hormone shots to grow a beard!” just because they are bored.

So, when I heard about the call for parents to NOT allow their children to watch Chaz compete as a man with a female partner on Dancing With The Stars, I felt compelled to throw my public support to Chaz Bono and ALL transgendered people.


I have made it my business to visit homeless shelters for LGBT teens and have heard their stories first hand of the struggles they endure to be accepted or to simply survive.

Transgender youth often suffer from depression, victimization, harassment, discrimination, sexual assaults, beatings, taunting and are even more prone to being victims of homicide.

Over at, a support site for transsexuals, transgender and crossdressers, 50% of their users 13 and up have had at least one suicide attempt by their 20th birthday! Some trans people find themselves so desperate to change their bodies that they will self-mutilate ..specifically engaging in genital mutilation.

Transsexuals have been known to cut off their breasts and penises just to feel whole.

That is what judgment does. That is what fear does. That is what hatred does.

The call for a DWTS boycott is a dangerous step backwards in our quest for human liberation and equality.

Instead of embracing the courageous act of both Chaz and ABC for showcasing the first transgender celebrity to join the cast of of DWTS and using it as a way to send a clear message of tolerance and love to the millions of viewers who watch, intolerant people/groups are instead using ABC’s progressive choice to instill fear into parents’ minds.

Sadly, these very parents may very well have their own Chastity/Chaz at home desperately looking for a sign that says “I’m OK.” Or perhaps the parent that makes the choice to not watch the show is a school teacher who has a little Mark who believes he is in Mary’s body sitting in their classroom with nobody else to turn to.

A viewer could easily be that child’s doctor, nurse, psychiatrist, family counselor, camp leader, etc. A viewer could be the very person that could be the voice that talks that child down from the ledge when puberty hits and that child is the most vulnerable and most likely to end their own life.

If children are gently led to having open minds and open hearts they will, in my opinion, be stronger, more spiritual happy adults.

There is no harm, in my opinion, for children to understand that some kids have two moms, some have two dads, some are adopted, some don’t have any parents at all and yes, some even have a dad that used to be their mom.

-Russell Simmons

Global Grind

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