All about Chaz

Cher with children Chastity Bono and Elijah Blue Allman

Cher with children Chastity Bono and Elijah Blue Allman

To no one’s surprise, social critic and self-described dissident feminist Camille Paglia, in a 54-second video by “Xtraonline” that went viral, had to volunteer her scurrilous viewpoint on Chaz’s choice to undergo gender reassignment as a form of bodily mutilation.

Pagilia opines that Chaz’s unhappy and confusing childhood had nothing to do with him wanting a sex change, but she never states what Chaz’s unhappy and confusing childhood was about. Instead, Pagilia voices her worries. Pagilia’s biggest worry is that such an outrageous act of changing one’s gender would gravely influence children who feel born in the wrong body — an adolescent phase she disdainfully states she once experienced but overcame.

And when we see in the documentary Cher — gay icon nonpareil — not celebratory about Chaz’s transition as her close friends and girlfriend Jenny are, it’s unnerving. But Cher, in my opinion, comes across more as a frightened parent than as an insensitive transphobic. Worried about the toil it will take — physically and mentally — on Chaz to endure ongoing male hormone shots for the rest of his life, Cher, still using the female pronoun, states “I’m afraid she’s not going to be healthy, I’m afraid it’s too much for her.”

During the documentary, Cher is heard pining about what she perceives as the loss of her daughter forever when she stated she should have saved the familiar sound of Chaz’s voice on an answering machine before he began male hormone therapy.

But Cher understands Chaz’s courageous act to transition. “If I woke up tomorrow in the body of a man, I couldn’t get to the surgeon fast enough,” she stated in the documentary.

Chaz doesn’t walk away from the documentary without disturbingly turning a few heads in what many would agree are both sexists and misogynist remarks.

“Jenny and I had to relearn how to be together,” Chaz states in the film. “I never really understood women before, to be honest, but I had a tolerance for women that I don’t have now. …There is something in testosterone that makes talking and gossiping really grating. I’ve stopped talking as much. I’ve noticed that Jen can talk endlessly. …I just kind of zone out. I just don’t care!” Chaz laughs.

Unthinkingly, Chaz buys into the fallacious notion of “biology is destiny,” meaning we are slaves to our genes, and in his case hormones; he, also, is buying into the gender binary of male and female, which would categorically be dismissive of trans males and females.

“I’ve learned that the differences between men and women are so biological. I think if people realized that, it would be easier. I would be a great relationship counselor. I know the difference that hormones really make.”

Rev. Irene MonroeChaz isn’t realizing that espousing biological essentialist rhetoric, he’s categorizing people by a few fixed characteristics and not allowing for change or variation within God’s human tapestry.

However, I have to realize as a cisgendered lesbian, this is not my experience, and this is not my story. But rather I am reminded that the documentary, “Becoming Chaz”, is all about Chaz.

Rev. Irene Monroe

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About Rev. Irene Monroe

Rev. Irene Monroe is a Ford Fellow and doctoral candidate at Harvard Divinity School. One of Monroe’s outreach ministries is the several religion columns she writes - “The Religion Thang,” for In Newsweekly, the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender newspaper that circulates widely throughout New England, “Faith Matters” for The Advocate Magazine, a national gay & lesbian magazine, and “Queer Take,” for The Witness, a progressive Episcopalian journal. Her writings have also appeared in Boston Herald and in the Boston Globe. Her award-winning essay, “Louis Farrakhan’s Ministry of Misogyny and Homophobia”, was greeted with critical acclaim.

Monroe states that her “columns are an interdisciplinary approach drawing on critical race theory, African American , queer and religious studies. As an religion columnist I try to inform the public of the role religion plays in discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. Because homophobia is both a hatred of the “other ” and it’s usually acted upon ‘in the name of religion,” by reporting religion in the news I aim to highlight how religious intolerance and fundamentalism not only shatters the goal of American democracy, but also aids in perpetuating other forms of oppression such as racism, sexism, classism and anti-Semitism.”

Comments

  1. MyLeftMind says:

    Chaz told Wilson: “There’s a gender in your brain and a gender in your body. For 99 percent of people, those things are in alignment. For transgender people, they’re mismatched. That’s all it is. It’s not complicated, it’s not a neurosis. It’s a mix-up. It’s a birth defect, like a cleft palate.”

    Actually, it’s not a birth defect. Mixed, combined or comprehensive gender is a naturally evolved component of gender expression in mammals. Since contemporary society is obsessively black and white in it’s gender expression and expectations, people who are of mixed gender feel compelled to choose one gender over another. In fact, calling this natural phenomenon “transgender” is an indicator of how uncomfortable we are with gender expression in the gray area between the extremes of male and female.

    At some point, society will come to terms with the reality that gender is not a polarized, black and white characteristic. It’s flexible both at birth and over a lifetime. When people become more comfortable with the natural variation in human gender expression, transgendered folks will likely want to change their descriptor to something more supportive of their life experience, such as combined, inclusive or comprehensive gender.

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