Thursday, June 23, 2011
By Chaz Bono
Upon buying my copy of Chaz Bono’s latest memoir, "Transition: The Story of How I Became a Man," I was very excited to start reading. I was ready to hear all about his recent gender reassignment surgery and the way his family reacted to everything. However, I got much more than I was expecting. And I mean that in a good way, a really good way.
Having a huge interest in psychology, I was delighted to see that Bono started his book from the very beginning of his memory. From the first anecdote about “a girl named Fred,” I was drawn in. All the preconceived notions I had about transgender people were slowly debunked and explained to me. I never really understood how a person could feel like such a stranger in their own body. But the way Chaz wrote about his entire life seemed so natural. When I read the first sentence I had no doubt about the author’s gender being male. Most people who have never met a transgender person automatically assume that it’s easy to tell what gender they were born as. And I have to say that that is a complete and utter falsehood. I can’t see Bono as being anything other than male; especially from the way he describes his feelings as a child. The way he describes the symptoms of his gender dysphoria (which would be defined as the discrepancy between how the body presents its sex and how the brain perceives its sex) is an example of incredible self-reflection. It is also incredible that he looks back on coming out as a lesbian and still didn’t feel completely comfortable. Chaz’s ability to look back on his life and point out the definite signs of his being born into the wrong body is really what sets this memoir apart from others. My only criticism of his writing is that sometimes he tends to go off on short tangents - for example, he talks about his relationship with his dad during his childhood. The book works in a linear, chronological manner so it becomes unnecessary for him to add that later on his dad became more traditional because he talks about it in later chapters. The book is a short and relatively quick read at about 240 pages. I also recommend this book for people who are 16 or older because there are many sexual and basic self-discovery elements that I wouldn't have gotten until I was an older teen.
The most important thing about his book is the message it gives to all people. More than being a guide to Chaz’s own life, this book is a guide to everybody’s lives. "Transition" shows Bono’s physical transition into becoming a man, but more importantly it highlights his journey to self-acceptance. He struggled so much throughout his life trying to find himself and who he really was. And though he admits that he came into his own a little late for his taste, late is always better than never. His message is overwhelmingly positive, and utilizes certain properties of Zen Buddhism that I personally believe are integral in everyone’s lives. He reminds us that we have to accept the fact that we cannot control everything. At a certain point, we have to live for ourselves, and anybody who cannot handle that does not matter to us. Each and every one of us is free to be whomever we choose. His book and message give everyone in the world who reads it the idea that we belong in this world as we are, and nobody can take that away from us.
Review by Soraya. Add your review of "Transition: The Story of How I Became A Man" in comments!