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The former Chastity Bono’s public transition sure to raise awareness, transgender activists say

BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com

bono Transgender activists say they’re hopeful that Chastity Bono’s very public gender transition will generate widespread discussion and raise awareness of gender identity issues.

Bono, 40 – the only child of Sonny & Cher – confirmed through a publicist on Thursday that she is becoming a man named Chaz.

“Chaz is doing this to honor himself and his own needs,’’ said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality in Washington.

Keisling said it’s important for the public to see “that real people are transgender people, that it can be somebody’s son or daughter or somebody's neighbor. And when that person is high profile, people pay more attention.”

Certainly, the public will be interested in Bono’s story – and how mom Cher deals with his transition.

tobias“The Bono family is a pop cultural iconic family. Publicly how the family will react, how Cher will react, how Chaz reacts, will drive the public impact of all this,’’ said Tobias Packer, pictured at right, a transgender activist who works for Equality Florida, the state’s largest gay-rights group. “Any time we have conversations like this, we move forward.”

Packer, 26, began to transition about 10 years ago, just after he graduated from high school in Coral Springs.

Despite all the talk about gay rights today, few people contemplate transgender issues, Packer said.

“It’s not something that's laid out as an option. Growing up as a small child, your parents don’t ask you if you're a boy or a girl, or do you feel like a boy or a girl,’’ Packer said. “It's not something that accessible or easy in the vocabulary to establish.”

Gender transition is “an awkward process,” said Packer, adding that it must be especially difficult for someone like Bono to transition so publicly.

It’s a very difficult process,’’ he said. “It’s something that even without public scrutiny can tax a person. What Chaz is going through as someone who has transitioned, I can't imagine what it's like going through that in the public eye.

“Being out as a transgender person brings its own separate set of challenges than being out as gay or lesbian. It reveals something about you that many people feel is very private information,” Packer added. “Different people respond differently. I've stopped assuming how someone is going to react. .. Some people ask questions that seem to be impolite.”

Mara Preferred Headshot People often ask if the transgender person has had, or is considering to have, hormone treatments or gender reassignment surgery.

“This isn't about surgery. It's about living as your true self,” said Keisling, pictured at right. “I have no idea what, if any, medical intervention or treatments, Chaz is interested in.”

Bono photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images

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I think people need to be happy with what ever way that particular person needs,wants,feel they should be. I give Chaz lots of credit she has never tried to do anything because of her parents it just happens that Cher & Sonny are her parents. I give 150% support.


Homestead

Who cares what other people want to do? I say more power to Chaz. Get a life, Ermie!

will we see her in the Men's room soon?

U go boy

I applaud Chaz's courage. I went through a horrible gender transition in Florida 25 years ago because of the intolerance and hatred there. I received my GRS surgery in 1989 in Europe and have never regreted it! There is a lot of transphobia in America, even in the Gay community which by and large is ambivelent toward us.

I hope Chaz has an easier time than I did. He is my hero!

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