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Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Living in the wrong body

I recently watched a couple of documentaries about Chaz Bono and his gender reassignment.  Some of you may recall that Chaz was born as .Chastity, the daughter of Sonny and Cher.  He has spent almost his entire life believing that he was male, and its only in recent years that he felt able to go ahead with the process of becoming who he really is.

It's a fascinating subject, and one I found difficulty in understanding until about 20 odd years ago when I worked in a private psychiatric clinic in England, where one of the psychiatrists specialised in this condition. He was very well known in the UK and often appeared on TV programmes when this subject came up for discussion.

There are genuine cases where people are literally born in the wrong body. There are also cases where people "think" they are the wrong sex, and this may be because of some traumatic event in their lives. Clearly the counselling involved before any consideration is given to a sex change operation has to be absolutely thorough. Certainly this was the case with the psychiatrist I worked with, and this counselling can go on for years before it's established that an operation should go ahead.

I have seen first hand the distress suffered by those who are genuinely living life as the "wrong sex"...and the joy and relief when they finally become the correct gender.

It's also a very distressing time for family and friends, but on most occasions they seem to be supportive.  In Chaz's case, because of his famous parents, his life has always been in the spotlight.  It has clearly been a very difficult journey for him.  One in which he hasn't always had the support of his mother.

He comes across as a charming and sensitive man, very likeable, and it's easy to feel compassion for him.  I was certainly moved to tears by the amount of sadness and isolation he must have felt whilst he was growing up.   I think he is very brave to have taken part in these programmes, and I am sure they will be of great comfort and reassurance to those people who are going through the same problems.

I've provided some links here, for anyone who is interested in watching the programmes:
The first one is the start of his journey.  The second link is an interview with Rosie ODonnell, and the third is how he is living his life today.
http://www.oneclickwatch.com/2011/05/becoming-chaz-2011-watch-online.html

http://www.watchseries-online.eu/2011/05/own-doc-club-becoming-chaz-20110510.html

http://www.watchseries-online.eu/2011/12/being-chaz.html

It's perhaps another one of those taboo subjects that people are reluctant to talk about, or maybe don't understand.   But it's life and its important, in my opinion, to recognise that there people everywhere who are living sad, unhappy lives just because they are "different".

Everyone of us deserves to be loved and accepted for what we really are. 

10 comments:

  1. I used to watch Sonny & Cher but I didn't know about their child.
    I think it must be a terrible thing to feel you don't belong in the body that you were born in. Its a very misunderstood thing.
    I have always been very happy to be female so I can't understand anyone wanting to be male.
    It must take great courage to take the step to appear as a different sex and then to have those painful & extreme operations. It must also be very traumatic for the close family too.

    Thanks for raising this subject. Its about time some of these taboo subject were more openly discussed.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

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  2. I agree with you...I grew up around people who were intolerant of black or dark skinned people...I never understood that, I don't understand intolerance of any kind!

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  3. Thanks Maggie..I dont believe issues such as this one should be swept under the carpet because of ignorance. The documentaries are very well produced. Worth watching if you ever get time xxx

    Theanne: Sadly, intolerance is everywhere. As I said to Maggie, intolerance comes from ignorance. Every human being deserves and is entitled to respect. xx

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  4. Thanks for raising this issue. I remember watching every Sunday night The Sonny and Cher Show and they were holding Chastity when he was small......he was dressed so cutsey in them dresses. It probably was torturing him inside as the years went by.....

    I really don't like to judge people especially if I never experienced it myself. But I really believe that some people are just are born in the wrong gender...I mean you can notice it physically and their gestures and way of thinking.

    But I think that Cher had a bad time with it b/c she was so obsessed with her looks...being a Rock/star and all.....had to keep up an image.

    One thing in Canada is that it is so diverse with different people that no one really pays attention to anyone.

    ...have a great day. Any snow yet, we haven't had a flake yet up here in The Great White North.

    ...bye for now. :-)))

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  5. Hi Erica.I'm sure you're right about Cher. I think she was concerned about her image to a certain extent.
    We don't get snow in this area but further north and east usually get their fair share.

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  6. I hadn't heard of Chaz Bono, but many years ago, back in my library days, a book was published by James Morris, an eminent travel writer,who by then had become Jan Morris. I read and appreciated it and it gave me a very good insight into transgender issues. A very hard road to travel.

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  7. Very hard Perpetua, and one that that takes a great deal of courage.

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  8. I have a couple of friends who have transitioned, or who have relatives who have done it. When LE says things like "Boys have penises and girls have vaginas," I can't help but answer, "Yes, that true most of the time."

    The husband of one of my dearest friends from high school was female when they met. She had left a bad marriage after marrying too young, and had shared custody of a young son. At the time, my friend and her husband thought they were lesbians. Now they just don't know what to call themselves, but they have fun trying :)

    My friend's husband's ex and family made a world of trouble with them about custody while they were living together and while Wes was transitioning. The one it hurt the most, of course, was the little boy. Now he's a lovely, confident, well-adjusted college student with a fine world education and a dashing fashion sense.

    They now have a little boy about LE's age. When their younger son was a baby, I can tell you I was dead jealous of my friend because, not only was her husband extremely helpful and supportive, he was a man who freaking *got it*, how terribly hard it is to be a new mama, because he'd done it all himself 17 years before...

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  9. Hi Stranger. Sorry for the delay in responding to your comment..just returned from England and catching up.
    Your friend's story is interesting and how sad that the support wasn't there when it was needed, and particularly difficult for the little boy. Good to hear that he has turned out ok and relatively unscathed. It must be hard for children when a parent transitions musn't it?

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  10. That one is the happy kid story I know. The other one was like something out of an Anne Tyler-meets-Poppy Brite novel, so I choose to focus on the good story, where the people in it are kind and balanced, and the kid comes out a better person. It satisfies my desire to see my own kid come out okay, despite everything...

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