Cher's Son — Chaz Bono — Is A Successful Transgender Actor Who Overcame Life's Trials

Jun 10, 2021 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. Today, at age 52, Chaz has made a name for himself as a successful actor.

He was born on March 4, 1969, in Los Angeles, California, and his parents, in case you were not aware, made up the singing duo Sonny & Cher. Without necessarily desiring the spotlight, Chaz’s life story was made public from a young age, which likely made his journey to self-understanding and acceptance even harder.

After his parents divorced, they took slightly different career paths. Cher, of course, made it big as a solo artist and became a decorated actress, while Sonny was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994 before he tragically died in a skiing accident. However, Chaz’s life took a rather unexpected series of turns before he was able to arrive at the happy and healthy place where he is now. 

Now a household name in showbiz, the actor has had to overcome many obstacles before establishing himself in the world today. We're taking a look back at Chaz's remarkable life, all of the hardships he's had to endure and his successes as an actor.

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 that his father, the late Sonny, was accepting of his behavior, but his mother was not as comfortable.

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Cher, Chaz Bono (2017), (Kevin Mazur/WireImage/GettyImages)

"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.

“Look, I did not handle (Chaz’s coming out) all that well in the beginning,” Cher said to SheKnows. “It took me a minute. Because you have been with a child for 40 years, and then all of a sudden … but you know what? Chaz was so happy!”

“As a matter of fact, I was just telling this to my friend last night,” she continued. “It’s like if I woke up in the morning, and I wasn’t me anymore and I did not feel like me and I could not be me, I would just be beyond grief-stricken.”

This would be a reiteration of what Cher said in an interview with ABC News ten years ago. The singer had explained to her younger son, Elijah Blue Allman, Chaz’s half-brother, about Chaz wanting to transition.

“This is the way I felt about it, and this is how I tried to explain it to my son, Elijah. I like being a girl … if I woke up tomorrow and I was in a guy's body, I would just be flipped out, and it would just be horrendous for me,” the singer said. “And that is all I can think of. That is the way I put myself in Chaz's place."

Chaz was, as Infoplease describes, born the “cherubic daughter” of a “hippie-era couple.” Originally named Chastity Sun Bono, Chaz got his name legally changed to Chaz Salvatore Bono after he transitioned in 2010.

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Chaz Bono (2011), (Jeff Vespa/WireImage/GettyImages)

This came after decades of Chaz being a public advocate for queer causes. The actor even had the whole transition documented in a 2011 film titled “Becoming Chaz,” and the documentary went on to clinch the top prize for the 2012 GLAAD Media Awards as well as no less than three Primetime Emmy nominations.

The actor admits that from a young age, he never felt comfortable in his body. "It was very clear to me that I felt like a boy," he said. Yet, despite all the signs, Chaz mistook his gender dysmorphia for homosexuality and, as a teenager, began identifying as a lesbian. The tabloid magazine The Star outed him in 1987, which he later admitted to the Orlando Sentinel sent him “back into the closet for several more years.” It wasn't until eight years later that he publically came out on his own terms, revealing the harassment he had endured following The Star's expose from eager paparazzi trying to get a photograph of him with his girlfriend to confirm the story.

Speaking with Oprah in a 2011 interview, Chaz opened up about his journey and when he knew that he didn't feel like he was born in the right body. As a young child, he explains that it was always clear to him that he felt like a boy and that all of his friends were boys. But it wasn't until puberty hit that he began to really struggle with his female body. He told Oprah, "As I got older and especially going into puberty, it felt like the expectations around me started to change or how I was supposed to act."

Chaz Bono (2017), (Brandon Williams/Getty Images)

“But it also felt as if my body was like literally betraying me because I went from a very athletic, you know, straight up and down little kid to a very curvaceous woman and it was just horrifying to me." He then adds, "You have this image of yourself and all of a sudden your body does the exact opposite of what you feel."

Chaz goes on to describe that he felt his boyish ways as a child were more accepted by his father than his mother but is quick to explain that it's probably because he was trying to emulate his father and do all of the same things, whereas Cher, who saw Chaz as her little girl, probably experienced a disconnect between what she expected her daughter to act like and what was the reality.

Chaz's experience inspired him to educate himself on the plight of other members of the LGBTQ community, eventually dedicating his life to activism. Shortly after being outed, he became a writer for The Advocate, a publication that focuses on LGBTQ news, before joining the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and later even campaigning against the Defense of Marriage Act.

Chaz's story may be unique, but countless individuals are going through the same struggles as he did during his childhood. His experiences and how he overcame hurdles in his life serve as an inspiration for closeted members of the LGBTQ community just waiting for the right moment to shine.

Today, Chaz continues to excel as an actor, starring in many TV shows and movies. Most recently, the award-winning actor appeared on "Curb Your Enthusiasm," guest-starring as Joey Funkhouser on a 2020 episode of the show.

What do you think about Chaz’s journey? Do you relate to any of his struggles? Let us know — and be sure to pass this article on to friends and family members.

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