Tuesday night, the Oprah Winfrey Network premiered “Becoming Chaz,” the long-awaited documentary that follows Chaz Bono through his gender transition and talks about his life in an honest, thought-provoking way.
The documentary was first screened at the Sundance Film Festival in January, and has since received rave reviews. (and ranked fifth in its time period among all ad-supported cable networks among women on Tuesday night!)
Chaz Bono grew up in the media spotlight as Chastity, the child of famous pop superstars Sonny and Cher. He lived a unique childhood in which he was always surrounded by press, and appeared regularly on his parents’ variety show. But Chaz felt out of place his entire life. He knew he was attracted to women, but hated his body during puberty. Although he initially identified as a lesbian, he knew that the term did not completely describe his experience—yet he grew up during a time when being transgender was not discussed, and he did not consider transitioning for a long time.
Chaz first told his girlfriend Jennifer Elia—whom he lovingly refers to as Jenny—6 months after they began dating that he thought he might be transgender. They’ve been together over 5 years now and she has supported him through his entire journey. "I do believe that this happened when it was meant to happen. But there's also kind of a sadness that's starting to creep up for having it be so difficult to get here," he says at one point during his transition. He expresses a common feeling among transgender and gender non-conforming people. “There was that fear: who’s going to love someone like me?” But the film captivates the love that Jenny continued to have for Chaz, and even touched upon the improving relationship between Chaz and his mother Cher.
Chaz and the documentary have received both extensive and supportive media coverage. “Everybody’s more comfortable with me now … I’m very happy,” he said in an interview with ABC News. “In Chaz Bono, the transgender community found its first celebrity spokesperson since Renée Richards,” wrote the L.A. Times, praising the documentary. “It is a heavy burden … But having committed to becoming a spokesperson for this marginalized community, Chaz tells his story with a graphic and stunning simplicity.” Tim Slack of Entertainment Weekly called it “a riveting film.” Oprah Winfrey herself also welcomed Chaz on her show, as we highlighted last week.
The trailer appears below:
Did you catch the film? Share your comments with us below!