LOS ANGELES, CA — On Monday, Sept. 19, "Dancing With the Stars" will feature its first transgender contestant, one of two openly LGBT contestants on season 13. In conjunction with the show's premiere, GetEQUAL — a national direct action civil rights organization for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community — along with Transgender Law Center, announced today that they will be helping to organize viewing parties across the country to celebrate Chaz Bono's participation as the first openly transgender contestant, and to demand the critical federal and state-based rights and protections the transgender community severely lacks.
As a form of celebration and a call for further progress, the parties serve as personal reminders of the many issues facing transgender Americans — long-term unemployment, chronic homelessness, workplace discrimination and high suicide rates.
Robin McGehee, Director of GetEQUAL, says, "We are proud to partner with Transgender Law Center and long-time LGBT activists Robin Tyler and Belinda Carroll to celebrate this historic milestone. But while next week is big, there is still so much work left to do. We see these viewing parties as great opportunities to have conversations with friends and neighbors about the unique challenges that transgender Americans face."
The parties, in addition to highlighting the severe lack of federal and state laws that provide protections and extend rights and benefits to the transgender community, are intended to celebrate Bono, son of pop icon Cher and the late Sonny Bono, as the first transgender American to have been given the chance to shine on such a large national stage.
"Chaz has received hate mail like you wouldn't believe, simply for dancing his way on to American television screens," says Masen Davis, executive director of the Transgender Law Center. "He is taking to the dance floor because he was born into a celebrity family, and while that's a wonderful way to educate Americans about transgender issues, we must remember the discrimination that continues to face the community. We all know that intolerance shown toward transgender Americans prevents this country from truly living up to its potential for equality for all."
Only hours after the season premiere, at midnight on Sept. 20, the federal government will finally repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," signifying a landmark for this country's promise of liberty. While repeal is a step in the right direction for LGBT civil rights, transgender Americans are still not permitted to serve openly in the military and all LGBT Americans still struggle under workplace, marriage, immigration, and health discrimination.
GetEQUAL is a national direct action lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization. Emphasizing direct action and people power, the mission of GetEQUAL is to empower the LGBT community and its allies to take action to demand full legal and social equality, and to hold accountable those who stand in the way. For more information on GetEQUAL, please visit www.getequal.org . You can follow GetEQUAL on Twitter at www.twitter.com/getequal, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/getequal, or on YouTube at www.youtube.com/getequal.