'Dancing With the Stars' Contestant Chaz Bono Speaks Out Against Critics

5:45 PM PST 09/04/2011 by THR staff
Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Sundance Film Festival

"America really needs to see this," the transgender activist says of his taking part in ABC’s dancing competition.

Chaz Bono is defending his right to compete on Dancing With the Stars against critics who say he shouldn't be able to take part in ABC's reality competition.

"It's made me realize I'm really glad I'm doing this, because America really needs to see this," the transgender activist told ABC News.

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Since ABC’s official announcement that the transgender star was part of the Season 13 cast, the network's message board has been flooded with angry complaints. Meanwhile, conservative parents groups and media organizations have called for a boycott of the show.

OneMillionMoms.com, for example, wrote on its website that the casting of Bono "is completely unacceptable and Christians should not watch the show, no excuses!"

But Bono said the backlash has reinforced his belief that he's doing the right thing.

STORY: 'Dancing With the Stars' EP Addresses Chaz Bono Backlash

"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," he said. "And there's so many just completely inaccurate stereotypes and thoughts that people have."

His mom, Cher, also has defending him on Twitter, saying "it took guts" for him to take part in DWTS.

"I support him no matter what he chooses 2do," she tweeted. "It took courage to do DWTS!"

STORY: 'Dancing With the Stars' EP Reveals Why Chaz Bono Is a Good Fit for Show

And in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter last week, DWTS executive producer Conrad Green said he thinks the naysayers might change their minds once they see him on the dance floor.

"The thing that is also worth remembering one of the great features of our show is we got quite a broad-minded audience who are often willing to give people a chance," Green said. "They might have preconceptions about some of our celebrities before they meet them on the show, but on our show you get to see people in a way you've never seen them before."

VIDEO: 'Dancing with the Stars' Chaz Bono Says He Has Cher's Approval

Bono made headlines in 2009 when he announced his plan to undergo a sex change. He later wrote a book about the experience and appeared in a documentary about the transition, Becoming Chaz, that aired on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, in May.

Bono has been paired with professional partner Lacey Schwimmer for the upcoming season of DWTS, which premieres at 8 p.m. Sept. 19.

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