February 15, 2020

Cher’s Son Chaz Bono on the Moment He Realized He Was Transgender: ‘My Body Was Betraying Me’

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Chaz Bono, the eldest child of pop icon Cher and her first husband, Sonny Bono, was born as Chastity, a girl. However, from a very young age, Chaz knew he wasn’t in the right body, and felt betrayed by it after going through puberty. Here’s his story.

Back in 1995, when Chaz Bono was still Chastity Bono and came out as a lesbian, he used his platform as the child of one of the most powerful stars in Hollywood and became an outspoken LGBTQ+ activist.

Chaz Bono attends the 25th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on April 12, 2014 | Photo: GettyImages


He wrote the book “Family Outing: A Guide to the Coming Out Process for Gays, Lesbians, and Their Families.” And also made rounds on TV shows talking about his process and sharing advice and encouragement to other gay men and women that were afraid of being true to themselves.

But despite his honesty and bravery, Chaz was still going through another inner fight: he wasn’t comfortable in his own body.


Chaz knew at age 13 that he was attracted to women. But as time went by, he knew there was something else that was different about him.

Cher, her daughter Chastity Bono (Chaz Bono) and son Elijah Blue Allman pose for a photo session in June 1981 | Photo: GettyImages


“I knew my whole life something was different,” he told the New York Times in 2011. And continued:

“As a small kid, I could be one of the boys, playing sports, fitting in. When I hit puberty, I felt like my body was literally betraying me. I got smacked everywhere with femaleness. That was really traumatic.”

Talking about the same issue with Oprah Winfrey on her show, Chaz explained that he went from a very athletic little kid to a very curvaceous woman. “It was horrifying to me,” he added.


Chaz also told Winfrey that for any transgender person, puberty is the worst time because they have an image of themselves, and when their bodies do precisely the opposite is a traumatic experience.


Still, it took Chaz some years to embrace his truth. It was around 2001 that he started to analyze lesbians and realized that even the more butch-looking women had a female identity that he never had.

Chaz Bono attends the premiere of Focus Features' "The Danish Girl" at Westwood Village Theatre on November 21, 2015 | Photo: GettyImages


“I thought transgender people are much worse off than I am. That’s why they’re willing to risk everything to be who they are. But the older I got, the harder it got to stay in my body.”

In mid-2008, almost a decade after his first coming out, Chaz decided to start his gender transition, taking testosterone hormones and getting a breast removal procedure.


In 2010 Chaz legally changed his name and gender, and a year later, a documentary on his transition process titled “Becoming Chaz” aired in OWN.

Chaz explained that he didn’t get genital reassignment surgery right away because, at the time, the medical procedure was still too risky at the time.



Although Cher has always been considered an icon for the LGBTQ+ community and has shown her support in innumerable times, she still had a hard time accepting, first that his daughter was a lesbian, and later, that she no longer had a daughter but a son.

“My mother went through a kind of mourning period. It was difficult for her, and we didn’t see each other for about the first year of my transition,” Chaz told SBS Australia in 2015.

Cher and Chaz Bono pose as Cher is immortalized with hand and footprint ceremony at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on November 18, 2010 | Photo: GettyImages


However, Cher was part of Chaz’s documentary, and fans got to see the emotional conflict she was dealing with while talking about her son to the cameras and trying, at the same time, to rationalize and embrace the change.

She came around eventually and found a way to put herself into Chaz’s shows and explain the situation to people that struggle with the transgender concept.

“I like being a girl...if I woke up tomorrow, and I was in a guy’s body, I would just be flipped out, and it would just be horrendous for me,” she explained. “And that’s all I can think of. That’s the way I put myself in Chaz’s place.”

The mother-son duo has built a strong bond through the years, and Cher is proud of both of her sons, Chaz, and her youngest one,  Elijah Blue Allman.

Chaz, 49, is currently dating former child star Shara Blue Mathes, who appeared in the 1984 comedy series “It’s Your Move.”