Debate Magazine

Keep on Dancing.....

Posted on the 02 September 2011 by Mikeb302000
cross posted from
If I need a 'tie in' to the usual topics covered here, let it be that gender and sexual orientation are one of the two most frequent pretexts for hate crimes of violence, including gun violence.
I have a guilty pleasure.  I watch Dancing with the Stars.  It started as a friendly betting pool at the office every week where a friend of mine works.  Now we watch it together every Monday and Tuesday night when it is on, and discuss how we think the voting will go, with an eye towards who will win the office pool that week. 
The prize? A candy bar, or some similar trivial food or beverage item. 
And bragging rights, such as they are, which isn't much. It is a good natured fun thing to do, a friendly rivalry, not serious gambling, obviously.  So in that context, there is a very laid back sort of anticipation for each season's announcement of the cast for dancing with the stars.
I use the word 'stars' advisedly, because there are some people who are little known outside of a very narrow demographic, people who when they are announced receive the reaction of "WHO? Who the heck is THAT?".  This is so much the case, that with each season I wonder anew if they have finally scraped the bottom of the celebrity and pseudo-celebrity barrel.
But Chaz Bono, formerly Chastity Bono was a name that I did recognize.  I'm not convinced being the offspring of someone famous is a valid basis for claiming celebrity status rather than doing something famous in your own right.  But as the child of Cher and Sonny Bono, as a little kid, Chastity did appear on national television, beginning at an early age (here, around age 3):
and has appeared from time to time on television and radio since, and has written a book, appeared in a documentary, and has worked as a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign. 
And here, as an adult, left as Chaz, right as Chastity:

which at least seems to me to be more 'celebrity' than Bristol Palin from last season, whose sole claim to fame has been to get pregnant as a teen out of wedlock, like her mom, and to have a famous parent in politics.
The addition of Chaz Bono has actually eclipsed the inclusion of the second gay man on DWTS, the flamboyant author, actor, equestrian (yes, equestrian) Carson Kressley from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.  It has largely passed beneath the radar in light of the controversy over including Chaz Bono, who as Chastity Bono was openly lesbian, that DWTS actually rendered a policy decision on same sex couples dancing.  Because some of the professional dancers/ teacher partners HAVE spoken out that they were willing to dance with someone of the same gender.
Now personally, what would excite me would be if they could get comedian Stephen Colbert on for a season, because for all of his clowning around, he has occasionally demonstrated a very real ability to dance.  And he would be capable of being both funny and charming, which is largely along with sexy costumes and personality very much what the show works on to involve the viewers, not just the dancing.
But for Chaz Bono to be the preeminent controversy of this season?
This sadly reflects the prejudices, and even more than bias and bigotry, the ignorance among segments of our society, largely conservative segments, about gender and sexuality.  These are not issues unique to homo sapiens; they are mirrored in other species as well.  This is a big topic for ignorance.
Chaz Bono is one of those very articulate people who describe having a different sexual orientation from an early age, a very very early age. 
I don't know or care to know if Chaz Bono is one of those individuals who are born with gender ambivalence, lacking a clear gender, or what his complement of chromosomes are (XX, XY, or some other combination including extras).  I am however aware that there are conditions such asAndrogen Insensitivity Syndrome, where a person may be born genetically male, with an X and Y chromosome, but a resistance to androgens which are responsible for the development of male characteristics:
Androgen insensitivity syndrome
Androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS) is when a person who is genetically male (has one X and one Y chromosome) is resistant to male hormones called androgens. As a result, the person has some or all of the physical characteristics of a woman, despite having the genetic makeup of a man.
Alternative Names
Testicular feminization
Androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS) is caused by various genetic defects on the X chromosome that make the body unable to respond to the hormones responsible for the male appearance.
The syndrome is divided into two main categories:
•Complete AIS
•Incomplete AIS
Complete androgen insensitivity prevents the development of the penis and other male body parts. The child born appears to be a girl. The complete form of the syndrome occurs in as many as 1 in 20,000 live births.
The degree of sexual ambiguity varies widely in persons with incomplete AIS. Incomplete AIS can include other disorders such as Reifenstein syndrome (also known as Gilbert-Dreyfus syndrome or Lubs syndrome), which is associated with breast development in men, failure of one or both testes to descend into the scrotum after birth, and hypospadias, a condition where the opening of the urethra is on the underside, rather than at the tip, of the penis.
Also included in the broad category of incomplete AIS is infertile male syndrome, which is sometimes due to an androgen receptor disorder.
A person with complete AIS appears to be female but has no uterus, and has very little armpit and pubic hair. At puberty, female secondary sex characteristics (such as breasts) develop, but menstruation and fertility do not.
Persons with incomplete AIS may have both male and female physical characteristics. Many have partial closing of the outer vaginal lips, an enlarged clitoris, and a short vagina.
There may be:
•A vagina but no cervix or uterus
•Inguinal hernia with a testis that can be felt during a physical exam
•Normal female breast development
•Testes in the abdomen or other unusual places in the body
Exams and Tests
Complete AIS is rarely discovered during childhood, unless a mass is felt in the abdomen or groin that turns out to be a testicle when it is explored surgically. Most people with this condition are not diagnosed until they fail to menstruate or have difficulties becoming pregnant.
Incomplete AIS, however, is often discovered during childhood because the person may have both male and female physical characteristics.
Tests used to diagnose this condition may include:
•Blood work to check levels of testosterone, luteinizing hormone (LH), and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)
•Genetic testing (karyotyping)
•Pelvic ultrasound
Other blood tests may be done to help tell the difference between AIS and androgen deficiency.
Unusually located testicular tissue may not be removed until a child completes puberty and growth is complete. At this time, the testis may be removed because they can develop cancer like any undescended testicle.
Estrogen replacement is prescribed after puberty.
Treatment and gender assignment can be a very complex issue, and must be individualized with great care.
Outlook (Prognosis)
The outlook for complete AIS is good if at-risk testicular tissue is removed at the proper time. The outlook for incomplete AIS depends on the presence and severity of ambiguous genitalia.
Possible Complications
Complications include testicular cancer, infertility, and complex psychosocial issues.
Wysolmerski JJ. Insogna KL. The parathyroid glands, hypercalcemia, and hypocalcemia. In: Kronenberg HM, Schlomo M, Polansky KS, Larsen PR, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 11th ed. St. Louis, Mo: WB Saunders; 2008:chap 266.
Bringhurst FR, Demay MB, Kronenberg HM. Disorders of mineral metabolism. In: Kronenberg HM, Schlomo M, Polansky KS, Larsen PR, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 11th ed. St. Louis, Mo: WB Saunders; 2008:chap 27.

Sexuality and orientation, and gender identity are not simple, they are not black and white issues; they occur across a spectrum of possibilities, and there are many variations which occur. Sadly, among the ignorant, particularly the anti-science crowd, there are a lot of unwarranted judgements and assumptions made. And those assumptions carry with them some very punitive actions. For example, it was noted in an article on this controversy on the website, that simply being a transgender person is a legitimate reason for someone to be fired from their employment in 35 states.
I am appalled that someone can be fired for this, whether it is a matter of choice where a person is trying to reconcile their perceived subjective internal gender, or of medical necessity because of being born with gender ambiguity or hermaphrodism, that a person is transgender.
This should be a personal matter, something which is resolved by each individual for themselves, with the assistance they seek from family, friends, and health care professionals.  This should not be a choice over which other people have a vote, or over which other people can deny someone employment, housing, civil rights or anything else.
In the quick research that I did for this post, I noted that there have been any number of individuals who have been the target of talk, and finger pointing, in their careers over their suspected sexuality.  Jaime Lee Curtis, aka Lady Haden-Guest (her husband, actor Christopher Guest is Baron Haden-Guest) which makes her both British nobility and second generation Hollywood 'nobility' (such as it is).  Then we have the rumors about Lady Gaga of the gender and sexuality anthem 'Born this Way', along with model and 'Bond Girl' Grace Jones, Ciara, Megan Fox.  Back in their day the same rumors about gender and sexuality were circulated around genuine celebrities like Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, and Mae West.
Our sexuality is a deeply personal issue, and any decisions someone makes about this aspect of themselves is no one else's business but their own.  We can like or dislike them as human beings for other reasons, but their sexuality should not be one of them.  Martin Luther King, Jr. in his famous I Have a Dream speech wrote about the importance of judging people on the content of their character.  There was never a better time for that than here, on a silly entertainment series that is supposed to be about people learning to dance.
But I came across a better quotation from the late civil rights martyr that even better crystallizes how we should approach our human differences, how we should embrace each other as human beings:
"All I'm saying is simply this, that all life is interrelated, that somehow we're caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality."
— Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
I cannot think of truer words that equally apply to people coming to terms with their sexuality, whatever that might be, as a facet of who they are, of reconciling their emotional, psychological and physical, and yes, spiritual selves.
Chaz Bono, I wish you a very good time on Dancing with the Stars, regardless of how well you do in the series as a competitor.  Regardless of whether you turn out to be an excellent dancer, or have two left feet, I applaud you for your grace under the onslaught of hateful, narrow-minded bigotry and ignorance that is being heaped on you before the first episode of this show even airs. 
Chaz Bono, good luck and god bless.  And if you happen to win someone a candy bar along the way, or a hideously ugly mirrored ball trophy, that would be great, but extra.

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