"It's made me realize I'm really glad I'm doing this, because America really needs to see this," Bono told ABC News yesterday outside a Los Angeles, Calif., theater where he and his professional dance partner, Lacey Schwimmer, were on a break from production for the show, scheduled to premiere Monday, Sep. 19, on ABC.
His selection by the show's producers to be among the cast of 12 celebrities set to appear on the hit show's 13th season, and his partnering with a female dancer, have grabbed headlines and drawn the high-intensity ire of some "Dancing" fans and conservative media groups.
Bono, the 42-year-old son of Cher and the late Sonny Bono, underwent a female-to-male gender transition, and legally changed his gender last year.
Since Monday's season 13 cast announcement and Wednesday's pro-pairing revelations, the expected lightning rod of having only the second openly gay man, Carson Kressley, in the show's history, the first being singer Lance Bass, included in this season's lineup has been overshadowed by the casting of Bono.
"We will not be able to watch the show with Chaz on there," Monica Cole, director of OneMillionMoms.com told "Inside Edition" on Wednesday. "This is going to be very confusing for children, and should not be included in their cast."
The online group is calling for a boycott of the show, writing on its website that the casting of Bono "is completely unacceptable and Christians should not watch the show, no excuses!"
Bono made headlines in 2009 when he announced his intentions to switch from female to male through hormonal and surgical procedures.
Bono, currently engaged to longtime love Jennifer Elia, says the current controversy is motivating him even more to share the truth about transgender people, and his new life.
"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 told ABC News. "And there's so many just completely inaccurate stereotypes and thoughts that people have."
While Bono uses his critics' comments as motivation, his team is hitting back against the online groups and comments calling for Bono's ouster from the show.
"What I tell people to do, my clients, is ignore it. It's people writing on a bathroom wall," Bono adviser Howard Bragman said today on "Good Morning America," singling out OneMillionMoms.com as one group considered to be a "hate group" by many. "A lot of people put their hate opinions on email, and the vast majority of it is anonymous."
Bragman said parents should instead use his client's inclusion in the show as a teachable moment.
"Watching Chaz Bono dance is not going to make your kid transgender," Bragman told "GMA." "But what it can do is possibly save your kids life because young transgender kids, kids with gender identity issues, have a huge suicide rate and if they see one positive influence, one positive role model, this can save lives and that's why Chaz is here."
"No way he's going to back down," Bragman added. "This has really reinforced his decision to be on the show."