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Through 'Transition,' Chastity Bono Becomes Chaz

As Chaz Bono becomes increasingly male in the documentary, his partner, Jennifer, must deal with the new man in her life.
As Chaz Bono becomes increasingly male in the documentary, his partner, Jennifer, must deal with the new man in her life.

For decades, Chastity Bono struggled with the feeling of being born into the wrong body. So at the age of 40, Chastity decided to transition to life as a man.

In the new documentary Becoming Chaz and an accompanying memoir, Transition, Chaz — the child of pop music duo Sonny and Cher — shares his long and often difficult journey.

"It was a process of eliminating a lot of fears that I had in my life about it," Bono tells NPR's Neal Conan. "Mostly centered around being a public figure ... a lot of fear of rejection, and a lot of fear about what other people would think of me."

After he announced he'd be making the transition, Bono received a great deal of press attention. But rather than hiding away from the public eye during the process, he chose to have a film crew document it. He says it helped him get over his fears, but also enabled him to tell his story, his way.

"If I'd ... just made the statement but been quiet about it," Bono says, "there would have been a lot of people talking for me and not doing a good job."

And transitioning didn't just mean big changes for Bono.

"When you transition, everyone kind of has to transition around you," he says, including his partner, Jen. "We definitely went through some difficult times," Bono remembers, but he says they made it through.

Bono describes the positive effects taking testosterone had on him.

"It's kind of made me sharper, and my thinking more linear, and I'm probably less talkative now and more solution-oriented," he says. "In my core I'm definitely the same person with the same beliefs and set of values."

He says the testosterone has also expanded his emotional range.

"Before, I had a really difficult time accessing anger as an emotion at all," Bono says. "Now, that's changed, and I had to learn how to deal with that."

In a way, he says, transitioning is kind of like experiencing a second puberty — hair growth, acne, sex drive and all.

In the end, Bono says he wanted to use his celebrity to make his transition public, so he can help others with the process.

"I was born in 1969. We didn't know about any of this in the '70s," he says. "One of the things that motivates me is to bring light to this issue, so that other people don't have to wait till they're 40 years old to do this."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.