To my chagrin, I have to admit that until about four or five years ago when the name “Buck Angel” started to cross my radar as I began blogging more about Transsexual porn, it barely even crossed my mind that Transgendered individuals included Trans-Men as well as Trans-Women. I would venture a guess that many people out there have similar thought processes as I used to have, which is that Trans-Men, or Female-To-Male (FTM) Transsexuals, are relegated to the back, behind the more visual and public figures of Trans-Women, or Male-To-Female Transsexuals (MTF), especially with the growing popularity of Transsexual porn. Even more recently, when you could read about Chaz Bono and his transition process in just about every major magazine and newspaper across the country; again, to my chagrin, I barely paid attention to the details.
It wasn’t like I was ignoring or downplaying the importance of a celebrity like Chaz Bono bringing the issues of Trans-Men to the public, but I think subconsciously, my own thoughts demonstrate pretty clearly the fact that even among Transgendered individuals, there is an unfortunate disconnect among the communities. When I saw the documentary, “Becoming Chaz: Found In Transition” pop up in Netflix recently, I couldn’t wait to sit down and check it out; partially because it sounded entertaining, but also partially because the research that I’ve done about Trans-Men is pretty paltry in comparison to the hundreds of hours I’ve spent researching Trans-Women, and I’m always for expanding my knowledge base about all Transgendered issues.
“Becoming Chaz: Found In Transition” is the engaging and thought provoking story of the only child of Sonny and Cher. It follows Chaz through his more recent years of life, beginning with his decision to undergo top surgery (breast removal) and continuing though his transitional process as a Trans-Man. Honestly, I really didn’t know what I expected from watching “Becoming Chaz”; but what I found was an entirely engaging, fascinating, and heart-wrenching story. One of the things that is becoming more and more prevalent these days it seems, is documentaries that are more activism than documentary… which irritates me. In “Becoming Chaz”, I think there is an honesty that pours out through the characters (largely Chaz himself and his [now former] partner, Jenny) that is refreshing to see. There is a moment when Cher is being interviewed about her son’s transition that is so engaging that it will have you almost pushing yourself into the corner of your couch to get away from the awkwardness and I think it is moments like this in “Becoming Chaz” that really make the story real and honest.
Personally, the most eye-opening and profound moments in the documentary were the interviews with Cher. While there are few of them scattered throughout the film, I think her interviews will immediately stand out to those of you who identify in some way as part of the Transgendered community. Cher repeatedly, and one could almost argue, purposefully, refers to Chaz as “she” and “her” throughout the movie, and while she has somewhat of an epiphany regarding the usage of proper pronouns later on in the film, it is like nails on a chalkboard when you hear such a celebrated icon, especially to the LGBT community, repeatedly use the incorrect pronouns when referring to Chaz. If you’re anything like me, you’ll find yourself shouting at the screen, “It is HE! It is HIM!” I found it completely fascinating that such a public supporter of the LGBT community would have such a difficult time coming to grips personally with a Member of her own family going through the transitional process.
“Becoming Chaz” is certainly worth watching, both for informational purposes as well as entertainment purposes. I kind of regret not watching “Dancing With The Stars”, which featured Chaz Bono in the 13th season now, as he comes across in the documentary as a very real, down-to-earth, and honest person who I would have liked to learn more about. For those of you, who like me, find themselves somewhat under-educated when it comes to Trans-Men and the processes and issues affecting them, watching this documentary is a great way to get your feet wet. I’m not sure where I’ll go from here as far as continuing my education regarding Trans-Men goes, but I would encourage all persons who identify as Transgendered to learn and understand more about their fellow brothers and sisters. It is only through education and understanding that we can begin to come together as one Community instead of the fractured and disconnected communities that exist today.
“Becoming Chaz: Found In Transition” is available now on DVD and Netflix.