10 Questions for Chaz Bono

Sonny and Cher's child Chaz Bono talks about what it's like to become a guy while living in the public eye

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ALEXANDER HO FOR TIME

Are you nuts, changing genders?
Oh, wow. Nobody's put it quite like that. No, I don't believe I'm nuts. I discovered about 10 years ago that what I had perceived as sexual orientation was actually about gender identity, and I made the decision to transition.

What's the difference?
Sexual orientation is about who you are attracted to. Your gender identity is the internal gender that you feel yourself to be, or the gender of your brain. I wanted to be a boy. Even in high school, I used to often go to sleep at night praying I'd wake up as a boy.

Your mother Cher has struggled with your change. How difficult was that for you to deal with?
It wasn't really that difficult for me, to be honest. It was a little frustrating at times, but I know how long it took me to come to terms with this. I think she's slowly starting to understand it more, but it has been a process. A lot of [her]fear is that I'm going to be a different person.

You've been taking testosterone weekly for more than two years. What has been the most unexpected outcome?
Probably the emotional changes. It's hard to say exactly how much of it is the testosterone vs. finally feeling comfortable in my body. But I just feel so much better. Before, I wasn't able to feel anger easily, whereas now I am.

Are you less interested in housecleaning?
No. I never was interested in that, as my girlfriend can attest.

Have you gained any new insight into guys?
It's hard for me to talk as much as I used to, to literally engage and talk. I don't know why. In my family there was always — with my mom and my aunt and their friends — lots of talking. I talked, probably not as much as them, but was into it. My uncle would always be off to the side. I understand that a little bit more now.

Are you looking at women any differently?
My sex drive has increased since starting this process. I'm maybe a little bit more interested in looking, but I've always been attracted to women and still am.

Do you find that you want to work out more or be more physically active?
Yeah. I never liked my body before, so I didn't get a lot of payoff from taking care of it and exercising, because no matter what it looked like, I didn't like the way I looked. Now I have much more inspiration to work out because I really do like my body. I can finally build muscle mass like I always wanted to.

You had gender-reassignment surgery and had your breasts removed, which is shocking to a lot of women.
It's something I wanted to do for so, so long. When my breasts grew, they didn't feel like they belonged on my body. To have them gone, for me, was the final piece of the puzzle. [The surgeons] use your nipples and construct male nipples out of them. When I looked in the mirror and saw a male chest, it was exhilarating.

And is that where you plan on stopping?
For now. There are people who feel like they need to have bottom surgery. I'm going to wait and hope there are some new techniques in the future.