From Chastity to Chaz

When my brother, formerly my sister, first told me about his decision to transition to a man, I had a hard time grasping the concept. My mother, a staunch feminist of the second wave, at first couldn’t understand why someone wouldn’t want to be a woman. There wasn’t much literature out there to help me, but as a 15-year-old girl I could certainly understand the feeling of being uncomfortable in one’s own skin.

But now, seven years later, it seems the idea of female-to-male transition is nearing on mainstream.

According to Chicago’s LGBTQ newspaper the Windy City Times, Chastity Bono, child of Sonny and Cher, will be transitioning from female to male.

“Chaz Bono’s publicist, Howard Bragman, confirmed the news, saying, ‘Yes, it’s true—Chaz, after many years of consideration, has made the courageous decision to honor his true identity. He is proud of his decision and grateful for the support and respect that has already been shown by his loved ones. It is Chaz’s hope that his choice to transition will open the hearts and minds of the public regarding this issue, just as his ‘coming out’ did nearly 20 years ago.’”

Apparently, the most terrifying prospect of coming out for him wasn’t the hormone therapy or surgeries, but telling his mother. When he came out as a lesbian, Cher apparently told him to get out of their New York apartment, and “see a shrink.” (I’m so glad my mother was a social worker, not a celebrity. We just had to all sit down and talk a lot.)

It was also good to see that Joe Solmonese, president of Human Rights Campaign—an organization with a less-than-stellar history of supporting transgender rights—issued a statement in support of Mr. Bono. “His decision to be public about his transition speaks to the courage he has in living his life openly and honestly, and will also undoubtedly help foster much-needed dialogue about the lives of transgender Americans and the need for full equality.”

And that’s the key—dialogue. Having someone who is already in the public’s eye openly transition from female to male will help new generations be able to grow up knowing about this choice, thinking about this choice, and hopefully accepting this choice. If nothing else, perhaps it will help other 15-year-old-girls—or their 19-year-old transitioning siblings—make some sense of the decision.

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