Chaz Bono's 'Transition'

Bono writes of the emotional toll his gender surgery had on him and his family.

ByABC News
May 9, 2011, 10:42 AM

May 10, 2011 -- Chaz Bono, who the world first came to know as Sonny and Cher's daughter Chastity Bono, talks about the journey to manhood in his book, "Transition: The Story of How I Became a Man."

In the book, Chaz, 42, talks openly about the life-altering decision he made to undergo the knife and change physically from a woman to a man, capturing the day-to-day momentum of his life as his body changes.

He also describes the suprising reaction of his famous mother, Cher, and the emotional toll his gender surgery had on his whole family, including himself.

Read an excerpt from "Transition: The Story of How I Became a Man."below, then check out some other books in the "GMA" library.


The last image you might have of me is from about ten plus years ago when I was working as a gay and lesbian activist. At that time, I was also writing books (first Family Outing and next End of Innocence). Then I more or less disappeared.

In my first book, Family Outing, I described the events that led to a life-changing moment when I discovered that I was attracted to girls instead of boys, and drew the logical conclusion that I was a lesbian. Family Outing also included my mom's side of the story, how she'd had intuitive hunches since I was very young that I might not grow up to be just like her and that I might, indeed, be gay. In that way, Family Outing was also a coming out guide; I felt compelled to share my story—not to shock people with a tell-all memoir but rather to reach out to other gay people and their families who were trying to overcome the many challenges of coming out, hoping that they might benefit from my struggle and experience.

Just as I was finishing Family Outing, my dad died in a freak skiing accident. I pulled myself together for a couple of years, began writing End of Innocence, which was my attempt to make sense of my early music career, its precipitous demise, and my passionate relationship with an older woman. Tragically, Joan died of cancer, after less than two years of powerful love and intense involvement.

These personal losses triggered a gradual but extreme down¬ward spiral in my life that ultimately led me to develop an addic¬tion to prescription painkillers—the only way I found at the time to take the edge o? the searing pain inside of me. Though it was a slow progression over many years, my addiction to pre¬scription opiates made it impossible to continue working, and, in fact, I barely made it through writing End of Innocence. My books were heartfelt attempts to give something back to the world and offer something of value to people who might have related to my experiences—coming out, struggling to define a career, or caring for or losing a loved one. As with any project I take on or job I do, I gave all I had to those two books, or as much as I had at the time.

But when I disappeared, drugs and grief were not the only reasons.

The truth is that something very deep inside of me was slowly coming to the surface. Through the pain and sorrow of the loss of both Joan and then my dad; through the frustration and dis¬appointment of my failed music career; through the haze of my dependence on prescription drugs, I began to realize a truth about myself that was so frightening that I became completely paralyzed. In turn, I became so disgusted with my inability to stand up for myself that I retreated further into drugs and the smallest circle of friends and family I could manage.