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‘Transition: The Story of How I Became a Man’ by Chaz Bono

‘Transition: The Story of How I Became a Man’ by Chaz Bono

Author: Sassafras Lowrey

June 2, 2011

In Transition: The Story of How I Became a Man (Dutton) Chaz Bono, the only child of Sonny Bono and Cher publicly explores the intimate details of his adult life as he struggled to come to terms with his gender identity, and his ultimate decision to transition from female to male.

Through the book, we follow Chaz as he grapples with addiction, family rejection, and personal triumph as he becomes the man he always wanted to be.

There has been a great deal of attention surrounding the release of the book, and it suggests an exciting moment of visibility for the transgender community as a whole, and particularly trans men.

Transition offers a basic, though in-depth, look into the experiences that arise when someone transitions, both for the individual as well as their friends and family. Chaz speaks in great detail about the effects transition has had on his family, social life, and self esteem, as well as the actual physical changes themselves.

For an audience unfamiliar, or new to ideas of transition, Chaz’s detailed descriptions offer an important window into the life of one transgender man, and perhaps offers an opportunity for greater understanding of transgender people in general. Also, for newly out transgender people, or those struggling with coming out, the candidness with which Chaz speaks about the struggles his girlfriend, Jenny, and his mother had understanding and accepting his decision/need to transition could be especially powerful.

The writing in Transition was not particularly compelling, and read much more as a tabloid magazine than a memoir. I was also repeatedly concerned by the biologically reductive aspects of some of his analysis of what transitioning has meant to him.

Chaz repeatedly resorts to misogynistic and sexist arguments, such as that women talk too much or are too emotionally needy, in order to validate his own gender and create distance between himself and the women in his life including, and perhaps especially, his girlfriend.

In recent years, we have seen an immense growth of transgender literary representation. This, in conjunction with mainstream culture’s at least basic understanding of the existence of transgender people, leaves me wondering if perhaps we have reached a place where it is no longer enough for a transgender memoir, even one written by child of celebrities, to simply be a coming out story.
Transition: The Story of How I Became a Man
by Chaz Bono
With Billie Fitzpatrick
Dutton Adult
Hardcover, 9780525952145256, 256p
May 2011

Sassafras Lowrey photo

About: Sassafras Lowrey

Sassafras Lowrey is straight-edge punk who grew up to become the 2013 winner of the Lambda Literary Emerging Writer Award. Hir books—Lost Boi, A Little Queermas Carol, Roving Pack, Leather Ever After, and Kicked Out—have been honored by organizations ranging from the National Leather Association to the American Library Association. Hir nonfiction book Left Out: How Marriage Equality Abandoned Homeless LGBTQ Youth is forthcoming from The New Press, and TRICKS IN THE CITY: For Daring Doggos and the Humans that Love Them is forthcoming from Mango Publishing. Sassafras' fiction and nonfiction work has appeared in numerous anthologies, literary journals, and magazines and ze facilitates writing workshops at colleges, conferences, and homeless shelters across the country. Sassafras has recently relocated from Brooklyn to Portland with hir partner, and their menagerie of dogs and cats. Learn more at

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