It Was Hard For Cher When Her Child Came Out As Transgender – She Lost A Daughter But Gained A Son
Nov 28, 2020 by apost team
When the world first got to know Chaz Bono, he was introduced as a small, bright-eyed girl named Chastity, the only child of superstar couple Cher and Sonny Bono. So when he first came out as transgender in 2009, it came as a shock to the whole world, and even more of a shock to his famous mother, Cher, who now had to adjust to "losing her daughter" and building a relationship with her son, Chaz.
Even as a child, Chaz knew he was different. While girls around that age would play dress up and talk about cute boys, Chaz surrounded himself with male friends and preferred a more 'tomboyish' look. Speaking to Oprah in 2011, Chaz revealed his father, the late Sonny Bono, was accepting of his behavior, but his mother was not as comfortable.
"For my mother, I completely understand why it must have been difficult. You have this expectation of your baby girl and how that's going to be, and I didn't act like anything she probably imagined," he said.
Despite all the signs, Chaz mistook his gender dysmorphia for homosexuality and, as a teenager, started identifying as a lesbian. A tabloid magazine outed him in 1987, but it wasn't until eight years later that he publically came out of the closet. Although his mother had by then already been hailed by the LGBTQIA+ community as a 'gay icon,' accepting Chaz's sexual orientation came as a challenge for her. The singer eventually came to terms with the change, only to be hit by another revelation 14 years later. In 2009, Chaz announced he would be transitioning from female to male, shortly after turning 40.
"It has been difficult for my mother, but I respect that," Chaz told the Sun in a 2012 interview. "For parents, this could be something that's kind of hard to deal with. It's a process of grieving for a child you've lost and adjusting to the new one taking their place. It takes a lot of time. Mom loves girlie stuff, so it was difficult because I was never that person. I could never give her that experience," he added.Silver Screen Collection/Moviepix/Getty Image
Cher herself candidly spoke of her sons' transition and her coming to terms with it, revealing that although she accepted his decision and wanted him to be happy, it wasn't until after his transition began that it hit her. "It's a strange change for a mother to go through," she told the Sunday Times in 2013.
The pop legend said she was afraid she wouldn't recognize Chaz when she saw him again and even asked him not to change his old answering machine greeting. And when it came to his gender pronouns, Cher admitted she got it wrong "all the time."Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images
Just as Chaz's friends and family had to adjust to the change, so did the world, who first got to meet Chaz as Chastity back in the 70s on The Sonny and Cher Show. While much of the public reacted with messages of support and praise for Chaz's courage in making his experience public, others were not as understanding. Following the announcement that Chaz would be a contestant on Dancing with the Stars, trolls began sending him abuse and threats on social media. "Thankfully, nothing serious happened after the threats but I was cautious about security," he said.
When it came to the transphobic comments her son was enduring, Cher was not having any of it and did what she does best; she took to Twitter to clap back at all the trolls.
"bet VAST MAJORITY of People will LOVE CHAZ on DWTS!" she tweeted at the time.
She also now makes it a point to help others understand what being transgender means, and why some may choose to transition. "For the people who don't understand it I try to help them understand, by saying, you know, 'I just love being a woman so much, but if I woke up tomorrow and I was a man I couldn't function,'" she explained.Brenda Chase/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Now, the two have a better relationship than they've ever had in the past. "We're in the best place we've ever been since she was young," Cher said. "And I have to say 'she' because Chastity was a 'she' then and I have to make the distinction with Chaz as he is now."
The singer also praises her son's transition as a "success story," saying he's "happier than ever."
Chaz now uses his experience to help others who are struggling with their gender identity. He wrote a book about his own experience when coming out, titled Family Outing: A Guide to the Coming Out Process for Gays, Lesbians, and Their Families, and gave the public a raw insight into his transition with his 2011 documentary, Becoming Chaz.
Today, Chaz enjoys a sense of peace that has only come after accepting his identity. He currently lives with his girlfriend, former child actor Sarah Blue Mathes, whom he has been dating since 2019, in West Hollywood.Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Were you surprised to hear Cher struggled with accepting Chaz's transition at first? Let us know in the comments, and make sure you pass this along to your friends and family!