LOS ANGELES – Cher is taking to Twitter to defend her son Chaz Bono.

The superstar posted several tweets Wednesday defending his participation on the upcoming season of “Dancing With the Stars.” Bono is the first transgender competitor on the hit ABC show.

Cher says her son, who was born female and underwent surgery to become a man, is being “viciously attacked” on blogs and message boards since the new cast was announced Monday. “This is Still America right? It took guts 2 do it,” Cher wrote, adding that she supports him no matter what he chooses to do.

“Mothers don’t stop Getting angry with stupid bigots who (mess) with their children!” the 65-year-old singer wrote.

Bono, 42, is paired with pro dancer Lacey Schwimmer on the reality show, where celebrities and their professional partners perform various ballroom dances for judges’ scores and viewer votes.

“Dancing” fans have posted both angry and supportive comments on the show’s message boards. One called the casting choice “disgusting” and said “ABC should be ashamed of theirselves for harassing mainstream Americans and Christains.”

Another wrote: “I never and mean NEVER watch DWTS but will this season to support/vote for (Chaz).”

On his own Twitter page, Bono described himself as “the luckiest guy around” and thanked his fans for their support. He also thanked Cher.

“Thanks for all your support mom,” he wrote. “The haters are just motivating me to work harder and stay on DWTS as long as I possibly can.”

The 13th season of “Dancing With the Stars” is set to premiere Sept. 19.

Queen of Soul to sing for Obama in Detroit 

DETROIT – President Barack Obama will have a royal warm-up act when he comes to Detroit to speak during the city’s annual Labor Day festivities.

Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin is scheduled to perform Monday before Obama speaks near the Renaissance Center at an event sponsored by the Metro Detroit Central Labor Council. Also scheduled to perform is Detroit’s Mosaic Youth Theater.

The event is free and open to the public.

It will be Obama’s second trip to Michigan in a month. Obama visited a battery plant in Holland on Aug. 11.

Obama has promoted his administration’s work to rescue Chrysler and General Motors, which is headquartered in the Renaissance Center.

He’s expected to deliver a speech to a joint session of Congress next week describing his job-creation plan.

Probation and a book deal

ATLANTA – Grammy-winning rapper T.I. stepped off a luxury motor coach bus Wednesday evening to start serving the rest of his time in a halfway house for a probation violation with a new book deal and TV reality show waiting for him.

The artist, whose real name is Clifford Harris, earlier left the Forrest City low-security prison in Arkansas and was driven the 375 or so miles in the bus with dark-colored windows, followed by four other cars.