Chaz Bono

It also brought to the surface prejudices about Bono and others who have changed their gender, judging from the "Dancing With the Stars" message board. In hundreds of comments, Bono was the most common subject.

But for everyone who vented disgust -- or questioned whether Bono would dance with a man or a woman -- there were many who defended Bono and accused his critics of bigotry.

Bono's casting is only the latest to make a lighthearted reality show the impetus for deeper discussions about values, tolerance, bigotry and politics. Gay "American Idol" contestants have opted not to announce their sexuality, perhaps out of concern about alienating intolerant viewers. And Bristol Palin's "Dancing" casting two seasons ago led many to vote for or against her based on her mother's politics.

If Americans quickly vote Bono off the show -- or keep him on despite a middling performance, as they did with Palin -- it could reveal plenty about attitudes toward transgendered people.

ABC had no immediate comment Tuesday on posts by "Dancing" fans on its message board. Among them:

"HUGE HUGE fan of this show since season two and eagerly await each season to get my dancing/entertainment 'fix'!! But when I heard that Chaz Bono was going to be on, I was sick. Not that I have anything personally again her/him, I just don't want that lifestyle choice continually flaunted in the media esp ABC."

"Chaz Bono How low can this show sink. Well you have certainly addressed

"Dancing With the Stars" aims for provocative casts, and Chaz Bono's addition to the show has already yielded strong reaction -- some of it ugly.

Bono, the only child of Sonny Bono and Cher, was born a woman but legally changed his gender and name last year. The announcement Monday that he would join the highly rated ABC dance competition immediately made him one of the highest-profile transgendered people in the world.

the gay commuity. Guess this will not be a family show any longer!!!! Lost my family!"

"YOUR choice to bring Chaz Bono into the mix goes too far. I am not about to risk the potential for on screen dialogue about sex changes and gender confusion while my 7 and 9 year old are watching. If you want the "anything goes" hippy culture, then soon that is all you will get. You've lost us. In case any of you are wondering ... no, we are NOT tolerant. We are not tolerant to allow any and all influences to come unfiltered into our home and especially to our children. This is truly a sad farewell."

Some of the objections were flat-out confusing -- one person seemed to suggest Bono had to be paired with a woman -- because he was still a woman: "Chaz will have to dance with one of the girls because she/he says she/he is a man but chromesomes say different no matter how many surgeries you have."

The show has historically paired men and women regardless of sexuality. The openly gay Lance Bass was paired with Lacey Schwimmer.

Many criticisms of Bono had nothing to do with gender. Some complained that he is overweight and only famous because of his parents. Those two criticisms have faced many, many contestants before him.