Cher's Transgender Son Chaz Has Grown Up To Become A Successful Hollywood Actor

Nov 20, 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. Today at age 51, Chaz has made a name for himself as a successful actor.

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 Bono's remarkable life and all the hardships he's had to endure to get to where he is now.


Cher, Chaz Bono, Sonny Bono (1970) (Max B. Miller/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

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.

Chaz Bono, Sonny Bono, Cher (1973) (Silver Screen Collection/Moviepix/Getty Images)

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 'Star' outed him in 1987, which he later admitted to the Orlando Sentinal 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 Star's expose from eager paparazzi trying to get a photograph of him with his girlfriend to confirm the story. 

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

Georgia Holt, Cher, Chastity Bono, Sonny Bono (1983) (Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images)

But even after coming out as a lesbian, Chaz still didn't feel at ease. The actor reflected on that period in an interview with the British podcast, A Gay and a NonGay, where he spoke about how different it is today for trans folks, who are increasingly coming out much earlier in their lives.

"I'm not a lesbian. I never fit in," Chaz said. "I tried for 30 years, then it took me about 10 years to get the courage to actually be who I am. People don't seem to understand that even if you come to it later in life, or figuring it out, trans people are trans people. I was never a lesbian, nor was I ever a woman. I was always transgender. I took time to figure it out. Now we see people figuring it out much earlier because they're able to see it. There are people out there they can look at and say, 'That's me.'"

 "When I was growing up, that didn't exist," he continued. There was nobody to look to. There were a couple references of trans women that were kind of before my time. There were absolutely no transgender men, so there was nothing for me to identify with, though as a kid I was very clear that I felt like a boy and wished I was a boy and often went to bed at night praying that I woke up as a boy. There was no clarity. What I didn't know was that there was a word called transgender and that I could do anything about it."  

Chaz Bono (1993) (Paul Harris/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

In 2009, Chaz announced he would be transitioning from female to male, shortly after turning 40.

"Yes, it's true – Chaz, after many years of consideration, has made the courageous decision to honor his true identity," Chaz's publicist, Howard Bragman, told TMZ at the time.

"He is proud of his decision and grateful for the support and respect that has already been shown by his loved ones. It is Chaz's hope that his choice to transition will open the hearts and minds of the public regarding this issue, just as his' coming out' did nearly 20 years ago."

Today, Chaz uses his experience to help others who were facing similar issues. 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 Familiesand gave the public a raw insight into his transition with his 2011 documentary, Becoming ChazThe film was showcased at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and later on the Oprah Winfrey Network

Cher (2015) (Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

Although now an avid spokesperson for the LGBTQIA+ community, Chaz's mom Cher admitted that she struggled when her child came out to her, both as a lesbian and later on as a trans person. 

"It was very unlike me to, in the beginning, have a problem with Chaz being gay, and it disappeared like that," Cher told CNN's Christiane Amanpour in December. "Then we talked about [whether Bono was] transgender for many years. And [he] would say, 'No, I don't want to [transition]. And then he went and said, 'OK, I want to do this.'"

While Cher ultimately supported her son's decision, she candidly spoke of her fear of losing the child she knew for forty years following his transition.

"[...] it wasn't easy," she said. "I remember calling, and the old [voicemail] message ... was on the phone, and that was very difficult."

"But you don't really lose them. They just are in a different shape," Cher added, before revealing that her son is now "so unbelievably happy."

The legendary singer now uses her own experience to help others understand what their children might be going through when they choose to come out as trans. In an interview with SheKnows this December, Cher revealed she has an anecdote she tells others to explain why people might decide to transition to another gender. 

"As a matter of fact, I was just telling this to my friend last night," the pop-icon said. "It's like, if I woke up in the morning, and I wasn't me anymore and I didn't feel like me and I couldn't be me, I would just be beyond grief stricken. And that's what I have to tell a mother or father: You are who you are, but how would you feel if you were someone else and you couldn't be that someone else? That's how I had to get it. And, you know, I didn't do it all that well in the beginning. So, I can't take too many kudos, but now, it's fabulous."

Cher, Chaz Bono, Sonny Bono (1976) (Bettmann/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 told the Sun in 2012.

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. 

Chaz Bono (2005) (Vince Bucci/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

Chaz's acting career kicked off when the world still knew him as Chastity, making regular appearances on his parents' Sonny and Cher show. As an adult, he made his debut on the big screen in the 1994 film Bar Girls and then went on to make appearances on numerous prominent TV shows like Ellen and The Secret Life of the American TeenagerIn 2011, he became the first transgender man to compete on the show Dancing with the Stars.

More recently, he portrayed Gark K. Longstreet in the TV series American Horror Story: Cult. This year, he starred in the mockumentary Reboot Camp, a film based on the many cult documentaries — Holy Hell, for example — that have continued to rise in popularity since streaming services became mainstream. The film premiered in October at the Austin Film Festival.

In Reboot Camp, Chaz plays Herbie, a character he says is similar to the one he played in American Horror story. "Herbie just seemed like, in a strange way, an extension of the character that I played in American Horror Story," Chaz told The Austin Chronicle back in October. 

"Herbie was kind of silly and didn't, obviously, kill people, but I went into it with that kind of mindset of just getting completely ensnared and moved, just, you know, being so gung-ho in there."

Today, Chaz enjoys a sense of peace that has only come after accepting his identity. He now lives with his girlfriend, former child actor Sarah Blue Mathes, whom he has been dating since 2019, in West Hollywood. 

Chaz Bono (2015) (Todd Williamson/Getty Images)

What did you think about this story? Be sure to tell your friends and give us your opinions!

Please scroll below for more stories :-)