Unless you have been living under a rock, you know that Chaz Bono is going to be competing on the next season of "Dancing With the Stars."
If you have heard that news, you have also enjoyed extra discussion on, not his dancing ability, but details of what is going on inside his pants. Or not going on. Or whether or not you want your children to know what is going on inside his pants. Or not going on.
Or whether he is "she" or "Chastity" instead of Chaz.
I have stood back, dumbfounded.
I have so much to say, I'm not exactly sure where to start. So, eenie, meenie, miney, MO! I think I'll just focus on the biggest argument among the critics.
When my children see Chaz Bono dancing, I will not have a discussion with them about what it means to be transgender. Why? Because that is SO old news in our home. They already know what it means. Could probably teach a class on it. They share life with people who vary in their gender identity and sexual orientation. They care much more about whether or not a person will play the Wii with them, or if they had Legos as a kid. When I read some of the things critics were saying, in reference to Chaz, and their concerns that his presence on the show would be confusing to children ... well ... my children looked at me - very confused! To quote one of them, "That's dumb."
If you are itching to join the approximate 27 people who forwarded me the appalling article by Dr. Keith Ablow, please refrain. The article was titled "Don't Let Your Kids Watch Chaz Bono On 'Dancing With the Stars'." The piece is scientifically unsubstantiated (unless, of course, he plans to use the argument that he knows this from his "own personal experience" - apparently that's some sort of new science these days). I do not mind people stating their beliefs and standing strong on them. Yet, I think we all agree that "because I said so" is the apologetics of the fearful, and only leaves you looking like a person choosing ignorance as their hill to die on.
In addition, David Badash of The New Civil Right Movement reminds us, "This is not Ablow’s first ignorant, pop-psychology attack on Chaz Bono. In May, Ablow penned a column attacking Chaz Bono so viciously, calling Bono “psychotic” and classifying him as “delusion[al]” that Fox actually removed it."
I want people to express their beliefs and opinions, and I want to learn their reasoning. I will always share my own personal experiences, but I wouldn't dare make the assumption that it, in any way, reflects the big picture. We look like baffoons when we do that. No man is an island.
So, to be clear: I do not believe that exposing my children to truth and differences will make them become that "thing" or "idea" or whatever. It simply teaches them about people and life and reality. In fact, I purposefully expose my children to people who are different from them. Yup. I do. On purpose.
Also, can we stop dancing around (pardon the pun) the elephant in the room for a minute? If you are already letting your children watch "Dancing With the Stars," you have openly exposed them to a myriad of choices, lifestyles ... not to mention a full time slot of deliberately sexual costumes and dances. Come. on. A man who looks like the average dad is what is going to make DWTS no longer family friendly? Really?
I encourage everyone to learn and understand more about what it means to be transgender. Actually, I encourage everyone to educate themselves on what gender really is and what it isn't.
In conversations this week, a friend and fellow trauma mom shared that Dr. Tiger Howard Devore is a family member of hers. I watched his documentary, "The Truth of My Sex," and was deeply moved by his story. Intersex and transgender individuals have such personal, and many times painful stories. Hear and learn. Listen. Listen some more. Read. Know.
But please, do not assume. Do not stand for the "because I said so" approaches to explanations. Please, do not dare to try the "Because God said so" card. Watch Dr. Tiger's story again. Because God said ... what? Did God say he is male or female? Is that actually something determined strictly by genitalia? If so, where do intersex individuals land?
Um, yeah. See?
This is where we find the religious right digging around in some poor guy's pants to determine if he should ... dance on television? Seriously?
This one is a hard one for me. It involves people I love and consider family. I understand where these critics are coming from. I was them. They truly do believe they are acting in love. They absolutely want the very best for all people, and they have no doubt that their decisions and words are reflective of those beliefs. They are not intentionally mean, callous or cruel, even though their words do mean, callous and cruel things to others. Really, they're not. They believe they have the solution, and it would be an awful thing to have a solution and not share it with those who need it.
So, I apologize for my passion. I don't like to be snarky with very sensitive subjects, because both sides include humans with feelings and very real, vital experiences behind them. I don't ever want to devalue that, even when I disagree with someone. I understand. I care about why their stance is important. It's as important as mine.
The "why" is what defines us all as individuals. The "why" is what becomes so very threatened when we are challenged a little bit outside of our norm. Perhaps it becomes threatened, even more so, when we are challenged a little bit outside of what we are taught is a reflection of our faith.
Please, allow me to challenge just a bit more, as I leave you today.
"I'm a Girl: Understanding Transgender Children"
"Intersexions: Is She or Isn't He"
"Transgender Americans: A Handbook For Understanding"
(top photo by aToy, used with permission)