"a different kind of man": Mediated transgendered subjectivity, Chaz Bono on dancing with the stars

Richard Mocarski, Sim Butler, Betsy Emmons, Rachael Smallwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Chaz Bono's appearance on Dancing with the Stars (DWTS) marks one of the first primetime, network appearances of a postoperative transgender person. This article deconstructs the mediated gender subjectivities of Bono as constructed by the show itself via prerecorded segments, costume and song choices, dance partner interaction, and judges' commentaries as well as those projected by Bono during the live, unscripted portions of the show. Combining notions of the normalization of taboo sexual subjectivities through mediated contexts with lens of gender performativity, we demonstrate how transgender subjectivities are presented to a mainstream audience via such mediated choices, but also how Bono welds some agency to resist such normalization through his live performances. Bono's appearance on DWTS stands as an important step toward acceptance of transgendered persons in mainstream society, however through a neutered, sex-free rhetoric as projected by the mediated portions of the show, his appearance is not without controversy. Additionally, we posit that Bono represents a transnormativity of a White, upper-class postoperative heterosexual male, which others all transgendered persons who fall outside of those hegemonic parallels of safe subjectivities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-264
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Communication Inquiry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • gender roles
  • normalization
  • performativity
  • transgender
  • transnormativity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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