The viewing public might be split on Chaz Bono's participation on the upcoming season of "Dancing With the Stars," but the way he sees it, his inclusion on the show is just what the doctor ordered for this country.
Reacting to the criticism he's faced since the Season 13 cast was announced last week, Bono told ABC News, "It's made me realize I'm really glad I'm doing this, because America really needs to see this."
The 42-year-old only child of Cher and Sonny Bono added, "You know, it just kind of shows why for me it's important to be on the show, because so little still is known about what it means to be transgender. And there's so many just completely inaccurate stereotypes and thoughts that people have."
Bono, who was born Chastity Bono and underwent gender-reassignment surgery last year, ignited passions among "Dancing With the Stars" fans on Monday with the announcement that he'd be competing on the series. Many of the show's faithful expressed their displeasure over the choice on the series' message board.
"When I heard that Chaz Bono was going to be on, I was sick," went one typical anti-Bono tirade. "Not that I have anything personally again her/him, I just don't want that lifestyle choice continually flaunted in the media esp ABC."
One online group. OneMillionMoms.com, has even called for a boycott of the series, with its director Monica Cole, telling Inside Edition on Wednesday, "We will not be able to watch the show with Chaz on there. This is going to be very confusing for children, and should not be included in their cast."
In light of the backlash, Bono's mother, Cher, went on the counter-offensive via her Twitter account last week, blasting her son's critics as "bigots" and calling on her followers to come to his defense online.
"Can u guys check out sites & give him your support?" the "Believe" singer wrote.
No matter how the audience reacts, Bono — who's paired with pro dancer Lacey Schwimmer for the season — has no intention of shrinking from the show, his advisor, Howard Bragman, asserts.
"No way he's going to back down," Bragman told Good Morning America. "This has really reinforced his decision to be on the show."