“Dancing With The Stars” – Is Chaz Bono Good For Children Who Watch?

By Lawrence W. Daly

The other night on Fox News, Bill O’Reilly had a segment where Dr. Keith Ablow joined Mr. O’Reilly in a discussion about the good and the bad of having Chaz Bono being on “Dancing With The Stars”.  Dr. Ablow stated that Chaz’s appearance may affect children in many negative ways.

I decided to respond to Dr. Blow’s thoughts and perceptions about Chaz Bono. The discussion began with Mr. O’Reilly confronting Dr. Ablow by asking him to identify what areas of concern Dr. Ablow had in reference to Chaz Bono appearing on Dancing With The Stars.

In the discussion Dr. Ablow talked about his experience in dealing with women who change anatomically from a woman to a man and stated that the research on how women deal with the sex change was a mistake. Dr. Ablow cited that Chaz recently stated that Brad Pitt’s daughter wears clothes that make her look like a tom boy and that she could provide her advice. Dr. Ablow found Chaz’s statement as inappropriate.

So let us look at several issues that Dr. Ablow brought to the Fox audience about Chaz’s sexual reassignment. Dr. Ablow wrote an article on September 2, 2011, on Fox News, entitled “Don’t let your kids watch Chaz Bono on Dancing With The Stars”. He justified his professional opinion as follows:
1.      Many of the children who might be watching will be establishing a sense of self which includes, of course, a sexual and gender identity.
2.      Some will be girls becoming comfortable with dramatic changes in their bodies.
3.      Some will be boys coming to terms with integrating the dawn of manhood with exquisite feelings of vulnerability.
4.      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.
5.      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.
6.      It is a toxic and unnecessary byproduct of the tragic celebration of transgender surgery that millions of young people who do watch "Dancing with the Stars" will have to ponder this question: Maybe my problems really stem from the fact that I’m a girl inside a boy’s body (or a boy inside a girl’s body).
7.      Maybe I’m not a tomboy; I’m just a boy! Maybe I’m not just being bullied because I’m a sensitive, reflective young man interested in flowers, not football. Maybe I’m not just uncertain about my sexuality.
8.      Maybe I’m a girl! Maybe all this angst and suffering I’m feeling as I emerge into puberty and pass through it isn’t just because I’m changing, but because I should change completely—and have my breasts removed or my penis amputated!
I could ask you to just read the article, but I wanted you to be aware of exactly what Dr. Ablow professionally believes is an accurate and correct opinion. He labels Chaz’s problem as being, “psychological conflicts that are fueling the gender dysphoria.” His suggestion that Chaz ‘suffers’ from any disorder has this author questioning why does Chaz have to have an alleged mental or physical disorder.
If the questions that surround Chaz’s life affect children, then shouldn’t Dr. Ablow be advocating for counseling children who believe they have traits of the other sex? In dealing with children, they have many questions about sex and their physical features.
DSM-IV describes a ‘Gender Identity Disorder” is a formal diagnosis used by psychologists and physicians to describe persons who experience significant gender dysphoria (discontent with their biological sex and/or the gender they were assigned at birth). It describes the symptoms related to transsexualism, as well as a severe manifestation of gender dysphoria.  Gender identity disorder in children is usually reported as ‘having always been there’ since childhood, and is considered clinically distinct from GID that appears in adolescence or adulthood, which has been reported by some as intensifying over time.[5] As gender identity develops in children, so do sex-role stereotypes.  Sex-role stereotypes are the beliefs, characteristics and behaviors of individual cultures that are deemed normal and appropriate for boys and girls to possess.
In researching what GID is about, it appears that the problem associated with these feelings by children is complex and can cause significant psychological problems. It may take until one is in adulthood to get things “worked out,” if ever. There have been no leaders in the community of transsexuals until Chaz came on the scene. Children need role models to try and discern what aspects of their life parallel that of an adult transsexual who has been there, done that, and is there to provide answers for those who are confused about who they are.
There are those who would advocate that children shouldn’t question what God made them as. This attitude is ignorant and does not address the psychological and physical issues children have to deal with during their early years, through puberty and as they move into young adulthood.
In contemplating what Dr. Ablow is advocating, it is important that we look at each of his points of interest before coming to a conclusion if his professional position has any merit.
1.      Dr. Ablow is concerned about a child’s development i.e. sexual and gender identity. This is a normal process that all children deal with. If there is a question about a child’s sexuality and gender identity, the child should have the opportunity to have available information to them so they can make decisions which will affect them through their childhood into adulthood.
2.      Dr. Ablow is concerned that since girls are becoming comfortable with their bodies they may change the natural process by allowing Chaz to talk about her sex change. There is no research to support Dr. Ablow’s statement; conversely, there is no research that states the opposite. Dr. Ablow appears to being cautious in his raising of this issue.
3.      Dr. Ablow is concerned that normal feelings by boys, which are inherent of life’s process, may cause boys to change their feelings, attach their feelings as being GID, instead of understanding that it is just a normal process of being a boy.
4.      Dr. Ablow provides a lot of insight into his statement(s) dealing with girls who may be tomboys and boys who are physically mature, but display an empathetic attitude towards other. These types of behaviors by children are a normal process. Suggesting that children who have these physical attributes may turn transsexual is misleading and not supported by any research. Moreover, Dr. Ablow suggests that children, who lose their parents, will be depressed and then during the depression, choose to be transsexuals. Again, baseless in his professional suggestions and opinions.
5.      Dr. Ablow, in his professional opinion, states that children, who are vulnerable, may be influenced by the support a transsexual receives during a television show. He believes this will immediately cause a child to want to change their sex due to the attention and support Chaz receives during Chaz’s performance on “Dancing With The Stars.” I understand Dr. Ablow’ s thought process here, but I believe he is being extreme as each child is different in how they respond to who Chaz is and how this may affect them.
6.      Dr. Ablow, in his professional opinion, believes that children will question their sexuality. Many children question their sexuality at some point during their childhood, including adolescence. However, children who are having sexual identity issues may relate to Chaz. There is no research to determine either way what impression and influence a child would have from viewing Chaz dance.
7.      Dr. Ablow suggests that if a child doesn’t fall into the category of a normal girl or boy, they will question their sexual identity. Dr. Ablow is correct; however, his assertion is incorrect if he believes questioning one’s sexuality equals becoming a transsexual.
8.      Dr. Ablow’s professional opinions that exposure to transsexuals such as Chaz will make children who are going through puberty want to amputate their sexual body parts. This may have been a Greek custom 2000 years ago, but there is no support for his thought process.
Dr. Ablow appears to this author as an individual who is highly respected in his industry. I have read his books, listened to him and have always been impressed with him and the positions he has taken in the past. In his article on Chaz being a part of “Dancing With The Stars,” he has taken steps and provided opinions which are based on alternative hypotheses that severaly lack substance.
While he is entitled to his own opinions, in today’s society, it is unfair to select someone out of a crowd, such as Chaz Bono, and place blame on a child turning into a transsexual because the child was able to see Chaz dancing with a female. It is a stretch to degrade the role model Chaz may become to children who need support in dealing with their gender identity disorder. Although little research has been conducted in the issues surrounding transsexuals and the influence they may have on children who are going through puberty, only time and research will provide us with the answers to such a complicated subject.

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