Can’t Get Enough of … Chaz Bono

Chaz Bono, Becoming Chaz
Chaz Bono, with Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, director/producers of 'Becoming Chaz'

I haven’t been all that geeked about OWN, a.k.a. the Oprah Winfrey Network, up to this point. The few times I’ve watched it, it just seems  like one long Oprah Winfrey show.

Not necessarily starring Oprah Winfrey, but just the “feel” of the shows. Lots of people talking about their struggles and lives and ways we could all be better people. Look, I want to be a better person as much as the next girl, but I don’t want to listen to people preach at me all day about it.

But I’m gaining new respect for the network after watching ‘Becoming Chaz‘ the other night. The documentary follows the gender transition of Chaz Bono, whom you might remember as the adorable little Chastity Bono from her parents’ variety show, ‘The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour,’ which ran from 1971 to 1974.

Chaz Bono and Cher at the Burlesque Premiere
Chaz Bono and Cher at the 'Burlesque' Premiere, 2010

It’s a revealing film that follows Chaz as he gets hormone treatments, undergoes a double mastectomy, considers “bottom surgery,” and overcomes his own fears and doubts about telling his friends and family about the transition. But he never remembers a time when he didn’t feel like he was in the wrong body. There was never any doubt there.

We also see his girlfriend, Jennifer Elia, go through her own issues with the transition, which are quite emotional, considering she originally had a girlfriend and now has a boyfriend. Plus, because of the extra testosterone, Chaz is more aggressive, not as “soft’ as he once was, which understandably freaks Jennifer out a little.

Although ‘Becoming Chaz’ doesn’t delve too deeply into things with Cher, we get the feeling that the multi-talented star has issues with the gender transition. It’s interesting to me, because Cher hasn’t exactly lived a conventional life, so I half expected her to be more open to the idea. But I suppose that’s asking a lot from a parent.

We learn that she struggled with the fact that she’d never hear her daughter’s voice again. We also learn that Chaz borrowed the money for transition-related expenses from someone other than Cher — which is telling in itself.

It’s all very entertaining. The fact that Chaz is so open and willing to put his story out there is one thing, but even better is that he’s doing it to help other people going through the same thing. It just makes me want to see more of his journey. I think ‘Becoming Chaz’ is a stand-alone documentary (I’m sure it’ll air several times), but I’m holding out hope for an ongoing reality series.


  1. Casey Avatar

    I read last weekend’s NYT profile on this documentary and it really sucked me in. I’m not usually a fan of these reality shows for the intrusive factor, but this sounds affecting.

  2. Melanie Haiken Avatar

    I too am not a big fan of touchy feely self improvement shows. But sharing stories is really important, particularly when they’re stories of a struggle that others are having privately without feeling supported. Reading about another’s difficulties, advice and triumph can be life-changing for those looking for help and inspiration.

  3. Living Large Avatar

    I saw the promo to this and not following a whole lot of celebrity stories, wondered if this was the same Chastity. I’m happy he is following his heart to a life where he will feel more comfortable and I’m sure this show might help others in the same spot. Still, these reality shows are just too much for me.

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