[MQFF ’12] Becoming Chaz (2011)

Judging by the title of this documentary, subject matter is pretty obvious, it follows the journey of Chaz Bono (formally Chasity, the offspring of Sonny and Cher) as he makes the transition into the self he always knew he was meant to be.

It is a very interesting documentary, and it certainly does not hold back either. Chaz has had to deal with the media spotlight his entire life because of whom his parents were. He speaks about those difficult times and how he felt while growing up that he wasn’t entirely who he knew he was meant to be. As Chastity back then she came out as a lesbian earlier in life but it wasn’t as simple as that and her then gender didn’t feel quite right. We see the transition and it is quite clear that Chastity is really Chaz. We see how his partner Jennifer deals with the transition to Chaz as well as his family and friends.

At the stage his Chaz’s life this takes place, he under goes surgery to remove the breasts. We don’t see the actual procedure but the before and after of it, and how Chaz feels having gone through it (hint: he’s happy). The real message here is to not be afraid of who you are, however Chaz is in a different situation from most and while he finally made things public it is of course not quite the same for all. It really is an admiral message, and this is something I know a lot of young people will appreciate going through all sorts of things in life and should know it is okay to be who you are.

The real core of the film is Chaz and Jennifer; their relationship is front and center. These two go through the good and the bad, but at the end of the day there is a lot of love there. Support is important, and this really shines through here. The other part is of course how Chaz’s mother Cher feels and what she has to say. While they don’t actually interact during the film, however Cher speaks candidly about everything. I felt their reunion would have been something special to include, but alas we don’t get to see it.

I think each person will take away something different from this, whether it will be seen as simply a vanity project or something deep and meaningful with a strong message. Whatever the case it is worth seeing, it certainly clears up any ideas you may have had about Chaz through the media portrayal. In my eyes, I believe everyone has the right and the will to be their true self, and people who speak up about doing so is important and raises a lot of awareness.


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