By now we’ve all heard, read and/or watched the controversy regarding Chaz Bono joining the cast of Dancing With The Stars, yes? He is the first transgender person to be cast in the show… and America is going crazy. Message boards, blogs and Twitter accounts are exploding with fury over this choice. Viewers are threatening to boycott the show to “teach ABC a lesson” and are lashing out at Bono online as though he’s committed a horrific crime.
I’ve never considered myself a ‘Zen’ type of person (ask my husband about my high-strung ways), but I think we all need to take a deep breath.
I’m not here to rant, preach or disclose my personal opinions regarding transgender people… I might be completely comfortable with the subject, I might be completely intolerant and irritated by the subject, I could be somewhere in-between, or I could even be a transgender myself. You’ll never know, because it doesn’t matter. Ha.
What I WILL attempt to do here is to make a case for salvaging human kindness. (Remember that?)
Just for fun, let’s address a possible issue from a concerned parent’s perspective:
My kids will be confused when they watch the show and ask questions beyond their level of understanding.
I get this (and my head fast-forwards to what my precocious almost 1-year-old would ask me, if she was older). Well, little kids should probably be in bed by the time DTWS airs in the first place, but if they’re not: Chaz is a man dancing with a woman on the show. I’m not sure that little kids would be confused by that, would they?
Little kids – who are not mature enough to understand the complicated explanation of transgenders – probably don’t need to be informed of Chaz’s back story at this point in time. Older kids (who are mature enough to get it, and might already know about the controversy) might be curious to hear what YOU think about the matter as their parent.
It couldn’t hurt to talk about it, ask what they think, tell them what you think and keep the lines of communication open. USE this opportunity to connect with your kids. Discuss as little or as much as you want. Although you might not agree/understand Chaz’s way of life, it might be an opportunity to set an example for your kids, that you are capable of respecting Chaz’s life and his peaceful place in this world – as a human being – and leave it at that.
You’re the parent. You’re in charge. Use that title when opportunities arise.
This wacky philosophy stems back to my childhood. I was raised in the conservative agricultural town of Fresno, California by Republican church-going parents. I was also lovingly ‘partially raised’ by dance instructors, musical theater directors and pageant coaches… all of whom are gay. My parents adored them, and vice versa (still do!).
Some of our most fun, inspirational and treasured family memories happened with them. If I (as a child and teenager) ever had a question about what it meant to be gay, I’d ask my parents. And they explained (in an age-appropriate way for me at the time). And we talked. And those little talks built and led to trust, communication and understanding… both between my parents and myself, and also between the rest of the world and myself. It shaped who I am today, and I am thankful.
Now, as a new parent, I think about these things in a deeper way. We want to teach our kids the morals of kindness, compassion and respect towards others – black, white, Hispanic, Asian, those with special needs, those with one arm, those with 12 toes, those who wear yarmulkes, those cultures that don’t use deodorant, those who might not believe in your God, and so on.
Why should the DWTS situation be different? Unless someone is harming you, your family or another living being, they deserve human decency and your quiet respect. Showing someone basic kindness doesn’t translate into endorsing whatever it is you think they represent.
To those who are outraged by Bono’s casting: You don’t have to vote for him, you don’t have to be best friends with him and you don’t even have to watch DWTS, if it really bothers you all that much. Just stop the hate already.
I champion the fact that we all have varying sets of religious and social beliefs, but providing basic consideration and respect to others – as a fellow human being – applies to all genders, whether they are different from you or not. As a parent, set the example. Who knows, your kids (and you) might learn something new.