Chaz Bono Opens Up About Becoming a Man, Taking Hormones

Child of Cher and Sonny Bono opens up about becoming a man, taking hormones.

ByABC News
October 29, 2009, 1:22 PM

Oct. 29, 2009 — -- Chaz Bono, the son of Cher and the late Sonny Bono, is finally breaking his public silence about his decision to undergo gender reassignment surgery and become a man.

In a two-part interview with "Entertainment Tonight" airing tonight and Friday night, Bono, formerly known as Chastity, opens about about taking hormones, growing up as a girl wanting to be a boy, and coming to terms with his true self.

"It wasn't a sudden decision," Bono says in the interview. "I've been doing therapy for a long time. It's a long process going back almost a decade. I got clean and sober in 2004 and I couldn't have done this before that."

He adds, "I always felt like the male from the time I was a child. There wasn't much feminine about me. I believe that gender is something between your ears not between your legs. That is something I discovered in the early 90's. It was just a long process of being comfortable enough to do something about it. I was turning 40 and I thought it's now or never. I want to still feel vibrant and be able to enjoy my life in a male body and not wait until I am an old man."

Bono tells "Entertainment Tonight" that he started taking male hormones in March. Their effect has altered his appearance dramatically.

"It lowered my voice," he says. "Fat redistributes, muscle growth, hair growth, sex drive increases. It doesn't change anything mentally and emotionally. [I'm] still not anywhere near what I will look like but really for the first time I am feeling much more comfortable with how I look physically. ... I shave about once a week now. It kind of started to come in just like peach fuzz. I always wanted to shave. It is a very natural process. For my birthday I got a lot of shaving stuff."

On having his breasts removed, Bono says, "Most people call it top surgery. The construction of the male chest from a female chest. When I went through puberty and started to grow breasts, it was very uncomfortable and emotional."

Bono says he's a work in progress. To greater and lesser degrees, he'll always be in transition.

"I will be changing for about four to five years in total but I'll be on testosterone for the rest of my life," he explains. "The nice thing about this process is it is slow. I am literally going through puberty. ... The most important thing about this for me is that my outsides are finally starting to match my insides. I feel like I'm living in my body for the first time and it feels really good." Sonny Bono holding Chastity during "The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour," 1971.

"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 in June. "Coming out as transgender is an extremely personal decision and one that is never made lightly."

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.

Cher spoke out about Chastity's decision to change her gender from female to male in June, saying in a statement to Us Weekly 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."