'Dancing With The Stars' Premiere: Chaz Bono Cha-Chas Into Millions of Homes

Controversial contestant Bono debuted on show's season 13 premiere.

ByABC News
September 19, 2011, 11:40 AM

Sept. 19, 2011— -- Chaz Bono cha cha'd onto the floor on the season premiere of "Dancing With The Stars" along with his partner Lacey Schwimmer, shimmying and shaking his way into millions of homes across America.

The judge's verdict when the duo completed their number Monday night? A respectable 17 out of 30, with judge Carrie Ann Inaba telling Bono: "I think people have been waiting all night to see you Chaz and you did not disappoint. You can dance!"

"It felt good. It was fun. I really wanna enjoy every second of this, even the tough times," Bono told "Nightline" anchor Cynthia McFadden.

"You're in a state of nervousness all night. You don't get to sit back and enjoy it … I had a great time doing it I think it was entertaining. I was in a total daze -- you don't think about the crowd," he added. "I'd like to be back as long as I can."

Controversy has surrounded Bono, 42, since producers of the hit ABC dancing reality competition announced in August that not only would he be a Season 13 cast member but also be paired with a female dance partner.

Backlash immediately erupted over his selection as the first transgender person to ever compete on the show. Various parenting, religious and political activists called for a boycott of the show, some saying that watching Bono would be "confusing for children."

"I'm just a regular guy," Bono said in a Sept. 6 interview with "Good Morning America." "All these ideas that children shouldn't watch me, I'm going to be confusing, all this stuff, it's crazy."

No stranger to the public eye, Bono was first introduced to the world as Chastity, a golden-haired little girl in the arms of her famous parents, Sonny and Cher, but underwent gender reassignment surgery last year and legally changing his name to Chaz.

"This is how I was born. I mean, there's no doubt in my mind," Bono told McFadden in a May interview.

PHOTOS: Chaz Bono Through the Years, From Chastity to Chaz

A long-time advocate of LGBT issues, Bono has been outspoken about his life-altering decision to "transition," changing physically female to male. He revealed the emotional process in his Emmy-nominated documentary, "Becoming Chaz," and in his latest memoir, "Transition: The Story of How I Became a Man."

Before signing on with "Dancing With the Stars," Bono talked openly with "Nightline" about his decision to go under the knife.

"It's actually pretty simple if you look at it," Bono told McFadden in May. "We all in the womb start out as female and then hormones come and we either stay female or we become male. I think of it as hormones that, you know, went in the brain but not in the body, and that's all being transgender is. It's just that the sex of your body and the gender of the brain don't match up."

It took Bono nearly four decades to reach the point at which he decided he wanted to have gender reassignment surgery to become a male. The process began after Bono's 40th birthday in March 2009, more than a decade after he had publicly come out as a lesbian.

Bono began receiving testosterone injections, which helped make his voice deeper and produced facial hair. He also had his breasts surgically removed.

"If you are a man and you have breasts, any man would want to have them removed," Bono said in the May interview. "It is scary for a woman to think about it because it is something that they are really attached to. Being male and having breasts is about the worst thing I could imagine."

Anatomically, Bono remains a woman from the waist down and said he doesn't have any plans to undergo corrective surgery yet because that type of surgery is still risky.

"I'm just kind of waiting to see what happens and hoping that there are medical advances made and it gets a little better because right now the risk-reward ratio is just not quite right," he said at the time. "The majority of [transgender people] don't have bottom surgery because of that."