Saturday, April 7, 2012

"Transition: The Story of How I Became a Man" by Chaz Bono

245 pages

Chastity was the only child of the world-famous Sonny and Cher. She grew up in the spotlight, on her parents' show as a child and later in the tabloids. Then she made headlines when she came out as a lesbian in her twenties. Through all of this, Chastity felt like something just wasn't right. She never felt comfortable in her body or, really, anything related to being female. She finally realized that she was transgender, meaning that though she had a female body, her gender identity was male. This started a years-long process of soul-searching that ultimately led Chastity--now Chaz--to physically transition from female to male, using surgery and hormones. In this memoir, he reveals what it was like to feel like he was in the wrong body and all the obstacles he encountered on his journey from female to male.

This is certainly a very interesting story, as Chaz has had a very unique life. Growing up in the shadow of Sonny and Cher was one thing, but dealing with his sexuality and gender issues under the scrutiny his celebrity brought was a whole other issue. He had to deal with the usual aspects of coming out and transitioning--self-acceptance and explaining everything to family and friends, for instance--but everything was made more complicated by the fact that the tabloids were watching his every move. Chaz worried a great deal about how the public's reaction to his transition would affect his mother (his father had died by this point). Although I can't relate to any specific aspect of Chaz's story--the gender crisis or the celebrity--I definitely know what it's like to worry about disappointing my parents so I connected with that part of his memoir. Chaz is so open and honest about everything that I feel like I now have a much better understanding of what it's like to be transgender. Some parts of the memoir felt repetitive and almost lost my interest--namely, Chaz's constant internal struggle and inner dialogue about whether or not to become a man. I'm sure he struggled even more than it comes across in the book, but maybe it could have been summarized better. Still, I enjoyed this story and think it helped me getter a better grasp on an idea that's often misunderstood.

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