By Lynette Rice
Updated September 11, 2011 at 04:37 AM EDT

Chaz Bono is feeling pretty sore these days, but it’s the grueling rehearsals on Dancing with the Starsnot the internet backlash to his being the show’s first transgender — that is keeping him on ice.

Bono spoke of the grueling choreography while walking the red carpet of the Creative Arts Emmys on Saturday. “It’s tough … everything is hard, the position that everything is supposed to be in,” he told EW. “I’m icing a lot, trying to sleep and eat well.”

Still, the only child of Cher and the late Sonny Bono admitted that the response by naysayers took him by surprise. Some of the pushback was so ugly that his famous mother took to Twitter to defend her son. “I didn’t completely expect it,” he said of the negative reaction, before adding, “It’s really pretty much rolled off my back and I’m just trying to concentrate on dancing because it’s hard.”

Surprisingly, Bono doesn’t think DWTS needs to focus on his personal journey once it returns for its 13th season on Sept. 19. Bono was the subject of the recent documentary Becoming Chaz, which aired on OWN and chronicled his emotional and physical transformation from a woman to a man. “You treat it as I’m not going to be doing anything on the show other than dancing.”

Still, it’s de rigueur for the competition show to feature back stories on its celebrities, so its likely scenes from the documentary will be included before one or two of Bono’s performances. Fortunately, Bono is used to heavy scrutiny. “I’ve been into activism since ’95. I’m really used to this. I debated Jerry Falwell and I’ve had people picket events I’ve been at, so it’s not that big of a deal. I have a very thick skin … otherwise you’d be upset all the time.

“I look at it as a chess game,” he continued. “These people have an agenda. And I have one as well.” – With reporting from Carrie Borzillo

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