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I don’t own a TV, for one, I am poor, and two, I generally do not like the garbage that is reality TV. But for better or for worse, Chaz Bono has become one of the most high-profile members of the trans community, and while he has faced adversity through his transition, he has had the privilege of having a great amount of support from his family, friends, and the world at large. This is why I believe that Dancing With The Stars, which I still think is mindless drivel, made a huge step when they invited Chaz Bono to be on their program, which would help the image of the trans community.

But, of course, some people just have to drink the Haterade. Enter FOX "News" contributor and certified quack Keith Ablow:

I advise parents to not allow their children to watch the episodes in which Chaz appears.

Here’s why: Many of the children who might be watching will be establishing a sense of self which includes, of course, a sexual/gender identity. Some will be girls becoming comfortable with dramatic changes in their bodies. Some will be boys coming to terms with integrating the dawn of manhood with exquisite feelings of vulnerability. Young viewers will include tomboyish girls and sensitive, less stereotypically “masculine” boys. They will also include children who have sustained the losses of loved ones and are wrestling with depression, perhaps wondering who they are absent their deceased mothers or fathers.

The last thing vulnerable children and adolescents need, as they wrestle with the normal process of establishing their identities, is to watch a captive crowd in a studio audience applaud on cue for someone whose search for an identity culminated with the removal of her breasts, the injection of steroids and, perhaps one day soon, the fashioning of a make-shift phallus to replace her vagina.

In the entire screed, Quack Ablow refuses to even acknowledge Chaz’s gender identity, which has led me to refuse to acknowledge his "Dr." honorific. There are two major issues I have with this screed. One is that he mentioned the prospect of children with a deceased parent or deceased parents being made transgender. What does this have to do with anything. Both my parents are alive, yet I still am in transition. The status of ones parents have nothing to do with what one will become. Second of all, he just has to go into specifics about Chaz’s medical records. Look, I don’t think that Chaz is going to take off his shirt during this performance and wave it like a Terrible Towel, nor is he going to drop his pants and expose his pre-op self to the cameras, nor would ABC even allow that. This may be dancing, but this certainly ain’t "Dirty Dancing", and it will just be people romantically dancing in a G-rated manner as always. There is currently a movement to have Dr. Keith Ablow sanctioned for at least 5 violations of ethical standards, personally, I think given the magnitude of this statement, he needs to have his license yanked.

But, he has gotten many allies, including hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons. In an article on Global Grind, he stands with Chaz and the transgender community. Some highlights include:

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.

And…

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 Lauras-Playground.com, 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.

And….

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.

I commend Russell Simmons for his ability to speak the truth about transphobes. However, he does make a statement about New York State’s recent legalization of gender neutral marriage. If he really wanted to reference New York State as a progressive place in an article about trans people, he would have mentioned the fact that despite much support, NEW YORK’S ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LAWS STILL DON’T COVER GENDER IDENTITY.

He also had this to say a while back about the Tracy Morgan incident

When he heard about Tracy’s joke saying that if his son was gay he’d "stab him", Simmons felt it was his job as a pro-gay marriage supporter to set him straight (no pun intended).

"The sad truth is that sometimes artists and rappers say what people in their community are thinking. I knew that Tracy was a person who wants to make people laugh and that he said what he said because in the communities he plays to there is homophobia. It is prevalent," Simmons said.

Now Simmons says Tracy must use his platform to eradicate homophobia. Simmons, who takes activism very, very seriously, told us that he genuinely believes that Morgan will take this on as his personal cause.

No, this has nothing to do with marriage. This has to do with simply surviving as LGBTIQ youth, in which every day is a struggle for many in the community. He has also discussed how homophobia in hip-hop is on its way out, and while I have tried to cross-check Def Jam’s artists with phobia with negative results, it still is a major issue.

But all that being said, I believe that this is a new day, not only in the hip-hop community, but in the trans community as well. And while I won’t be watching reality show drivel, I have come to realize this may help the community greatly and to increase the visibility of trans people, even though Chaz Bono has been famous all his life.

-Jordan Gwendolyn Davis

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