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(Note: strong language in tweet, paragraph 4)
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Cher has slammed the "stupid bigots" who have attacked the casting of her transgender son Chaz on TV show "Dancing with the Stars", and called on her fans to flood social media websites with messages of support.
The singer and actress took to her Twitter account to defend Chaz Bono, who underwent a female-to-male sex change last year, saying it took courage for him to agree to be one of the celebrity contestants on the ballroom dancing show.
"lovelies! Chaz is Being Viciously Attacked on Blogs & Message boards about being on DWTS!This is Still America right ? It took guts 2 do it," Cher tweeted on Wednesday.
"Can u guys check out sites & give him your support ? BTW ...Mothers don't stop Getting angry with stupid bigots who fk with their children !", she added.
Chaz Bono, 42, has been the target of jokes and hate messages on social media since the ABC network announced on Monday that he would be taking part in the new season of "Dancing with the Stars", starting on September 19.
Some fans have said they will no longer watch the show -- one of the most popular series in the United States -- while he is a contestant.
Bono, the only child of entertainers Cher and Sonny Bono, was born Chastity Bono and is still remembered in the United States as the cute little blonde girl who appeared on "The Sonny and Cher Show" in the 1970s.
He will be partnered on "Dancing with the Stars" with professional dancer Lacey Schwimmer, who said the negative reaction is "not cool."
"It's disappointing," Schwimmer told celebrity news website TheInsider.com. "We're all taught not to bully or harass and treat everyone as equals yet all these people are doing exactly the opposite."
Schwimmer said she was "absolutely thrilled" to be paired with Bono. "Not only is he Sonny and Cher's child but he's also generally a cool person."
Bono chronicled his journey from Chastity to Chaz in the TV documentary "Becoming Chaz" earlier this year.
The gay and lesbian campaign group GLAAD said that the new season casting of both Chaz Bono and gay TV stylist Carson Kressley has given ABC "a primetime first."
"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 another wonderful part of the fabric of American culture," said Herndon Graddick, Senior Director of Programs at the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte