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.
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.