The year’s winding down and out of my goal to read 50 books this year, I just finished my 47th. This time around it was Chaz Bono’s Transition: The Story of How I Became a Man. Chaz Bono, the son of Sonny Bono and Cher, who was born biologically female, has been all over the media these days, most notably because of his pseudo-controversial appearance on Dancing With The Stars. A co-worker of mine recommended this book to me, knowing my fascination for all things Cher-related (for the record, she’s probably read 147 book this year.)
Transition is probably the most comprehensive story of Chastity, now Chaz, Bono’s life. He tells many stories about how it hard it was growing up the daughter of two celebrities, and how much harder it was growing up feeling like she was in the wrong body. Her mother always wanted her to be more feminine but she liked playing with the boys, rough housing and generally being a good tomboy. During high school, Chastity came to the realization that she was a lesbian, which she felt explained why she felt so different from the rest of her peers. She had several relationships with women and came out to her parents which famously resulted in a very un-Cher like reaction from Cher.
Bono weaves an interesting tale that includes an attempt at a music career and many years of drug abuse, followed by a come-to-Jesus moment from which she got sober but then really faced her gender identity issues. While I know that I was supposed to be most caught up in his transition from female to male, I have to admit that my favorite parts of the book were those that involved Cher. I loved seeing Cher through Chaz’s eyes, for he sees her not as a worldwide superstar, but as a mom who is a flawed human being just like the rest of us. Hands down, the best revelation of the book for me was finding out that in the 1980s, Cher was obsessed with Pac-Man, even going so far as to get a tabletop Pac-Man game for her home. Can you imagine Cher playing Pac-Man? It boggles the mind. Absolutely no disrespect meant to my own mom, but after reading Chaz’s book, I kind of wish Cher was my surrogate mom. She’s just so…Cher.
Transition is a very easy read and worth the time it took to read. I recommend it to all Cher fans because of the sympathetic yet realistic portrayal of her Cherness, and because it was a very honest book. That kind of emotional honesty always appeals to me, even if I haven’t really any idea what Chaz must have felt as a young girl and woman.