June 18, 2009 — -- Cher has broken her silence about her daughter Chastity's decision to change her gender from female to male.
Referring to her daughter, who has already started the transformation and is now known as Chaz Bono, Cher says in a statement to Us Magazine that "Chaz is embarking on a difficult journey, but one that I will support. I respect the courage it takes to go through this transition in the glare of public scrutiny, and although I may not understand, I will strive to be understanding. The one thing that will never change is my abiding love for my child."
Cher Shocked by Chastity's Sexuality
Bono revealed to his parents that he was a lesbian at age 18 and wrote about the experience in his 1998 memoir, "Family Outing."
In 2002, Bono wrote "The End of Innocence," a second memoir about coming out, his music career, and his partner's death from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
According to Bono's books, Cher was shocked by the news of his sexuality and even banished Bono from her NYC apartment immediately after he came out.
"I'd always had this idea that she would get married and have a family," Cher told People magazine in 1998.
The two since have mended their relationship, though Cher reportedly expressed concern about Bono's weight. Bono participated in VH1's "Celebrity Fit Club 3" in 2003 in an effort to shed pounds.
I respect the courage it takes to go through this transition in the glare of public scrutiny, and although I may not understand, I will strive to be understanding. The one thing that will never change is my abiding love for my child."
Entertainment and LGBT experts say Cher's daughter could become the face of the transgender community in the wake of the announcement that Chaz Bono will undergo gender reassignment surgery.
"I think for America and for the world it will shed light on a community that they aren't that familiar with and don't know that much about," Corey Scholibo, The Advocate's arts and entertainment editor, told "Good Morning America" .
Bono's publicist confirmed to ABCNews.com that the daughter of 1970s power couple Sonny and Cher has already begun the process of changing his gender.
"Yes, it's true -- Chaz, after many years of consideration, has made the courageous decision to honor his true identity," Howard Bragman said. "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.
"We ask that the media respect Chaz's privacy during this long process as he will not be doing any interviews at this time," Bragman added.
TMZ's Harvey Levin said such a major announcement from a member of an iconic family is sure to catch the public's attention.
"People remember Chastity being born, being held on the saga," he said. "You take this iconic family saga and you add this layer and it becomes really interesting to a lot of people."
Bono, an LGBT civil rights advocate, journalist, author and musician, began the process of changing his gender earlier this year, following his 40th birthday. The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has already voiced its support of him.
"Chaz Bono's decision to live his life authentically represents an important step forward, both for him personally and for all who are committed to advancing discussions about fairness and equality for transgender people," GLAAD president Neil G. Giuliano said in a statement to reporters. "Coming out as transgender is an extremely personal decision and one that is never made lightly."
ABCNews.com's calls and e-mails to Cher's representatives for comment were not returned.