Transition: The Story of How I Became a Man is more than the story of Chaz Bono’s transition from a woman to a man; it is a memoir of his life beginning in the early 1970s as a little girl appearing on her parents’ Sonny and Cher Show. Over the course of 40 years, Chaz faced many obstacles, including physical and sexual abuse, loss of his partner to cancer and his father to a skiing accident, prescription drug addiction, and throughout his life, confusion about his gender.
As a child, Chaz dressed in boy’s clothing and rough-housed with her father who accepted her as a tomboy. As a teen Chaz saw a film that brought her to the realization that she was gay. Over time, into her 30s, she realized that she wasn’t gay at all, but rather a man living in the wrong body. Chaz’s mother had never been thrilled about her daughter’s masculinity, and despite her difficulty with Chaz’s transition, he portrays her as a loving mother who remained cool in a crisis and did what she could to help him. In 2009 Chaz started his transformation by having his breasts removed and taking testosterone shots. He explains in detail the physical and mental changes he experienced during this time. He also talks about the social adjustments he had to make as a man, such as using the men’s restroom and shaking hands with another man instead of hugging.
Chaz’s honesty and vulnerability in telling the story of who he was and has become made this a fascinating read. This book should be read with an open mind and compassion for the GLBTIQ (gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender/intersexed/questioning) community, as well as patience for typos! A documentary about Chaz’s transition — called Becoming Chaz — was shown at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and aired on OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network, in May 2011.