Chaz Bono on Dancing with the Stars Gets Conservatives Angry & "Concerned"

Uploaded by MidweekPolitics on 14.09.2011

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Louis: Big, big stuff.
David: I want to talk about Chaz Bono on "Dancing with the Stars". To give you the quick backgrounder
on this, Chaz... that picture, I don't know about it. It's not the most flattering thing
that we have up. But Chaz Bono was Cher's daughter and had a sex-change operation, is
now a man, and is invited to participate on "Dancing with the Stars".
Religious conservatives, you know what they're saying, Louis, right? Already, we... I don't
even have to tell you what religious conservatives say.
Louis: Of course not.
David: What are they saying?
Louis: That this is an abomination.
David: Right. This is going to be confusing to children, children might see that someone
has had a sex-change operation and want sex-change operations themselves, because it's very simple,
if you see that people are gay, you might say oh, I'll be gay also, because that's just
the type of thing it is. So that's the association. Yeah, go ahead, Natan.
Natan: That's about as likely as someone... as a man looking at a woman and wanting to
become one.
David: Yeah, exactly. It's the exact same... it's an absurd analogy.
So that's the complaint we're hearing from some conservatives. Now, I want to be very
clear that the discussion we're about to have, I'm simply asking questions and we're just
kind of batting this around. I want to be clear that we fully support marriage equality,
we fully support gay and lesbian rights, and oftentimes, discussing sex-change operations
and transexuals is wrapped in with discussions about gay rights. And for me, they have...
this is a completely separate issue that I want to discuss very specifically.
And it is a very particular issue, and it's this, Louis: when we say that someone who
may have been born a woman, for example, in Chaz Bono's case, feels like they were born
into the wrong body and therefore, they are going to have a procedure to change their
gender to that of a man because that's what feels correct to them, there are schools of
thought-- many schools of thought which say that that's legitimate, that is simply...
that that can happen.
However, and I know this is a much-used analogy and some might consider it a slippery-slope
analogy, I know Louis hates slippery-slope analogies, that what if I were to say you
know what? I know I was born with two arms and two legs, but deep down, I really feel
like I should just have one arm, and therefore, I want to find a doctor to remove one of my
arms, OK? Most people would say that that is an indication of mental illness. That's
not a legitimate feeling.
In other words, if you really feel like you were born with two arms, but you should only
have one, there's something wrong. So clearly there is something about gender identity and
sexuality that we consider to be different than the arm scenario. Would you agree with
Louis: I just... that's a very confusing comparison there.
David: Well, let me go... to me it's not confusing. In other words, if someone says I was born
with the wrong amount of arms and I want to fix that surgically, we say you probably need
to go and have your head examined. However, many say if you feel like you were born...
that if you feel you were born into the wrong body and you want to have a procedure to change
that, that bears no resemblance to just wanting to have an arm removed, when the argument
could be made, how do we know that one is more legitimate than the other?
Natan, what do you... I know you think that there is a big difference. And again, I'm
playing devil's advocate here on this issue. Why would... why is one seen so differently
than the other? Is it because gender is considered very different than anything else?
Natan: Well, I think that it is different. Also, I would say that there's a long history
of people being gay.
David: Right.
Natan: And there's a long... I mean, I don't know how long of a history or how many cases
of people wanting to change sex, but there are very few, if any, cases of people, you
know, thinking they should have a third limb. So in the sense that, you know, there's not
a lot of history of this.
Louis: Or one less limb.
David: Either way.
Natan: That's right.
Louis: Right.
David: OK.
Natan: I think that's one difference, at least. I mean, there's a long history of this.
David: So I think the real question here is one of where is the line, right? I mean, in
other words, there are a number of different ways someone can feel their entire life. Some
of them we would say are clear indications of mental illness, and some we would say are
not. At the same time, there are a number of different procedures people can choose
to have.
Plastic surgery is a great example, because you are changing, in essence, how you were
born. You're not changing your gender, but you certainly could be changing a number of
other things.
Louis: You're altering yourself.
David: You're altering yourself. And we know that there are diseases which are, you know,
body dismorphic... body dismorphia, where you constantly are getting plastic surgery
to change your body. So there can be mental illness in plastic surgery. There are some
very blurry lines here as to what is acceptable and part of a healthy self-image, and what
is indicative of mental illness. Yeah, go on.
Natan: Well, yeah, I was just going to say that there is one basic difference between
body dismorphic disorder, or at least what people usually think about it, and, for example,
Chaz Bono. I mean, I saw him on like Letterman or something describing his history with,
you know, wanting to be a man.
David: Sure.
Natan: And he always felt that he wanted to be very specifically a man, and when he started
taking the hormone treatments, or she started taking the hormone treatments to become he...
David: You've got to get really close to the mic there.
Natan: Right, right. Yeah, I'm kissing the mic right now.
Louis: OK.
Natan: So he/she started to feel that things were aligning themselves correctly, and, you
know, he feels normal, whereas body dismorphic disorder, sometimes what happens is people
constantly shift what they see in the mirror, not that they have one thing in mind, but
that they themselves and they see something else.
David: And that once they achieve it... sure, they make the change, and then it's still
not right for them, and then they want something else done.
Natan: Right.
David: Sure. What were you going to add to this, Louis?
Louis: I was going to say the... what do you call it, the Botox thing is probably a better
comparison with the limb thing, because you're doing something harmful, right? You're shooting
a biotoxin into yourself. And if you were to remove a limb, you know, it would be debilitating.
And neither of those make sense to me, but when you...
David: There are many cases...
Louis: When you feel that you're in the wrong body, chemically, something's different in
your brain, you know, you look at your genitals, and you say well, what is that doing there?
I mean, why should you be denied feeling normal, when it won't be doing any harm to you?
David: I absolutely want to hear from the audience on this one. I think that any claims
that having Chaz Bono on "Dancing with the Stars" is going to influence children to say
I would like to change my gender, I think is completely bogus and absurd. I don't think
that there is any reason to keep Chaz Bono off of the show because of anything like that.
There's no reason to keep him off the show, period. It's bigoted and discriminatory.
I think it brings up interesting questions about what body changes can be, in certain
cases, a result of normal, rational thought processes, and at what point do we have to
say is there something wrong going on there, and I think that there is no clear answer.
I think it's a very, very complicated topic.
Louis: Yeah, I guess it just comes down to what's socially acceptable.
David: Let's go to... no, I don't... I don't think it's just a matter of that at all, actually.
Yeah, Natan?
Natan: I'll say one more thing: when I saw him on Letterman, Letterman asked him, you
know, why didn't you consider maybe taking an antidepressant and seeing if that resolves
whatever confusion you seem to have with your sex or what gender you are?
David: Yeah.
Natan: And he said well, you know, that wasn't really an option, because I was depressed,
but it's not that I was depressed because I was depressed, but because I wanted to be
a man and I wasn't. And when I became a man, I stopped being depressed. So that was his
answer to that.
David: Yeah. And what would you say to that?
Natan: What would you say to that?
David: I mean, it appears...
Louis: I'd say... I'd say well, I guess it worked.
David: So then the-- but then that opens up the natural question.
Louis: Yes, would the person with one arm be happy?
David: Right. Exactly right. What if that made the one-armed person happy? Then would
we say that's fine, too? I don't know. Again, I don't know where the line is, but we do
have to move on.
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