Chaz Bono, born Chastity Bono in March 1969 as the only offspring of entertainers Sonny and Cher, has gone through a lot in the past two decades. Chaz came out as a lesbian and gay rights activist in the 1990s, he buried his father in 1996 and now he has written a book about his transformation from Chastity to Chaz titled “Transition: The Story of How I Become a Man.”
Chaz tells TIME magazine about his new transgendered life in an interview in the magazine and online now. He is pictured above, right, in 1973 on the set of “The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour,” middle, in 1998 with Cher and left, in April 2011 at the GLAAD Media Awards.
This is kind of a second coming out for you. You came out early as a lesbian, although not to the public.
“I came out around 25 publicly.”
“Early teens. It was a mistake. I confused gender identity with sexual orientation. Your gender identity is about who you are, how you feel, the sex that you feel yourself to be. Sexual orientation is who you’re attracted to. So when I was about 13 or 14, I realized I was attracted to women and then made the assumption that I was a lesbian, and didn’t realize that that wasn’t the case. It was the fact that I was a man and a heterosexual man. The issue wasn’t my sexual orientation, but rather my gender identity.”
Some people would ask, why didn’t you feel complete as a lesbian? Why wasn’t that a comfortable place to stay?
“Because I’m not a woman.”
You’re ready for media interest?
“I wouldn’t have done it until I was ready for that. I reached a point where I was completely comfortable and felt with utter certainty that this was the right thing for me to do, and no matter what came at me, I’d be able to handle it.”
Before you started your transition, did you worry that maybe you were wrong, that you were in fact a lesbian and that you were not transgender?
“I did not. Once I realized I was transgender, I never had a moment’s doubt about that. I had felt uncomfortable as a women my whole life. So that wasn’t the issue. It was about finding the strength to transition and how that would affect my life.”
I think the most dramatic part of the book was when you talk about having your breasts removed. What was that like?
“It was the greatest day, probably of my life. It was getting rid of something on my body that felt like it didn’t belong there since they started to develop at, like, 11 or 12.”
You were a gay activist. Do you plan on being a trans activist?
“Yes. That’s why I’m doing all this stuff, to try and bring awareness to this issue.”
So you have no regrets.
“No, not at all.”
Read the full interview at TIME online.