ABC breaks ground as transgender advocate Chaz Bono joins 'Dancing with the Stars'

ABC announced last night that transgender advocate and author Chaz Bono and celebrity style guru Carson Kressley will join the upcoming cast of ‘Dancing with the Stars.’ In a primetime first, both an openly transgender contestant and an openly gay contestant will be featured on the hit reality program. Earlier this month, the CW revealed that transgender model and fan favorite Isis King, as well as lesbian model Kayla Ferrel will return to ‘America’s Next Top Model’ as part of the show’s All-Stars cast. “With both gay and transgender contestants represented, ABC and the CW have created primetime firsts that reflect the growing acceptance of gay and transgender people in America today,” said GLAAD’s Senior Director of Programs Herndon Graddick. “At a time when transgender representation in the media is sorely lacking, Chaz Bono joining the cast of a series like Dancing With the Stars is a tremendous step forward for the public to recognize that transgender people are an important part of the fabric of American culture. His documentary, 'Becoming Chaz,’ was a great chance for viewers to meet the man behind the headlines. Appearing on such a high profile show will allow millions of Americans to get to know him in a whole new light.” (Read GLAAD's full release here.) Both ABC and the CW received ‘Good’ ratings in GLAAD’s annual Network Responsibility Index this year, with 33% and 23% of the networks’ primetime programming being LGBT inclusive, respectively. GLAAD commends ABC and the CW for setting a new standard of inclusion in reality programming – a standard that should be noted by other networks and shows. America’s Next Top Model - All Stars premieres on September 14, while the new season of Dancing With the Stars will make its debut on September 19.