Face-Shaven Chaz Bono: 'I'm Living the Life That I Always Wanted'

"GMA" Exclusive: Chaz Bono revels in decision to live as a man.

November 19, 2009, 7:12 AM

Nov. 19, 2009— -- Chaz Bono, eight months into his gender reassignment, said he is now living the life he always wanted.

"I feel so much more comfortable that I've ever been," Bono told "Good Morning America" in an exclusive interview. "I've felt male as far back as I can remember."

Bono, born Chastity Bono to singer and actress Cher and the late Sonny Bono, said the entire process of transitioning from female to male will take about four to five years. So far, he's received hormone treatments that have caused his voice to deepen and he's had his breasts removed.

And, to his delight, he's even begun shaving his face.

"This was a very difficult decision to make, but it was the best decision I've ever made," Bono said, promising more changes to come. "I feel great."

Bono -- who reiterated his stance that "gender is between your ears and not between your legs" -- said the biggest hurdle of his decision to begin gender reassignment was the realization that "I'm not going to be able to do this privately as most people can."

"Then it came down to realizing that I have to live my life for myself," he said, "and that life is short and life is precious."

Looking back, Bono said, "it would almost be easy to say, 'Why did I wait so long to do this?'"

And if his public transformation helps others struggling with the same issues, then "I'm happy to do that."

Now that Bono, who lives in California with Jennifer Elia, his girlfriend of four years, is one of the most recognizable faces of the transgender community, his mother Cher has pledged to stand behind her child.

"Chaz is embarking on a difficult journey, but one that I will support," Cher said in a statement issued to Us Magazine in June. "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."

Chaz Bono: Gender Reassignment Was 'Best Decision I've Ever Made'

Bono first caught the public eye as a towheaded tot on her parents' wildly popular '70s television show, the "Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour."

Outfitted in frilly dresses and fancy shoes for the show, Bono said he always identified more with boys.

"I felt like one of the boys. My friends were boys," he said. "In school I related to boys."

"As you get older it's more confusing," she said. "Suddenly, there's more pressure to fit in to your assigned gender."

Bono's sexuality first made headlines nearly two decades years ago when 18-year-old Bono, then Chastity, was outed by a tabloid magazine.

Bono told "GMA" that he knew he was interested in women at age 13 or 14, but figured he was simply a lesbian.

It was an announcement that stunned Cher despite the singer's devout gay following. Bono told "Good Morning America" several years ago that the news made Cher go "ballistic."

According to Bono's books -- 1998's "Family Outing" and 2002's "The End of Innocence" -- Cher was so shocked by the news of her daughter's sexuality that she banished Bono from her New York City apartment immediately after she came out.

But Cher, who told People Magazine in 1998 that she had always dreamed her daughter would get married and have a family, came around and became one of Bono's biggest advocates.

Bono said his longtime role as an activist in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, or LGBT, won't change much.

"I'm just a little more focused on the 'T' now then I am on the 'L' and the 'G,'" he said.

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