Fortunate Son



CHAZ BONO CACTUS XLRG (PATRICK FRASER) | ADVOCATE.COM Elia’s bisexuality may have served as a sort of bridge, a factor that helped their relationship change from a lesbian relationship into their current male-female dynamic. Elia doesn’t disagree. “Chaz and I interacted with a male-female dynamic from the very beginning,” she says. “There were definite changes beyond just feeling a male essence after he transitioned.”

In September 2009, Bono underwent top, or chest, surgery, to have his breasts removed. (He’d had a hysterectomy in 2005 due to endometriosis.) Waiting for medical advances to catch up, Bono is currently undecided whether to have bottom surgery. “At this point the ratio of risk and reward are a little off,” he says. “Hopefully there will be better options as time goes on. That’s what I’m waiting on. To me, the options of bottom surgery aren’t that great, considering the time, money, and pain you have to go through.”

Bono insists there’s been no downside to his life as a man. He even describes the excitement of experiencing puberty a second time, in his 40s. “The first time was so traumatic that I literally felt like my body was turning against me,” he says. “Life was really difficult, but now it’s fun and I’m on the same footing as everyone else. I finally feel comfortable in my body for the first time. I look in the mirror and see reflected how I’ve always felt inside. It’s almost impossible to calculate the difference.”

Elia agrees, offering a checklist of improved characteristics in the person with whom she’s spent the past six years. “He’s happy, productive, motivated, and he’s more social,” Elia says. “He’d put himself in a depression because he was so unhappy in the body he inhabited. Naturally, once you change that and you’re more comfortable within yourself, you’re going to be more social. He’s also been a lot more productive. In his two years as a man he’s written a book, coproduced a documentary. He works with a children’s group. He’s been out there living to the fullest.”

Living life to the fullest will likely mean that Bono will become a spokesman for an underrepresented community. He has a high profile and has the experience of having worked in the past as an LGBT activist. “When I was struggling for many, many years whether to transition, I read other people’s books and watched documentaries on the subject that helped me to finally gain the strength to be who I needed to be and who I am,” Bono recalls. “So I want to give back.”

The anticipation is almost palpable in the transgender populace, which has a paucity of strong role models, particularly for trans men. Bono’s Facebook page is filled daily with well-wishing posts from other transgender people eager to see his film and read his new book. “People are excited to see someone who already has such a positive image come out and show that transgender people are just like everyone else,” says Jake Finney, a transgender man who manages the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center’s Anti-Violence Project. “Chaz is a very down-to-earth person and easy to relate to. He can dispel a lot of negative stereotypes about transgender people.”

Tags: film