Growing up in the shadow of Sonny & Cher would certainly have its challenges. Hell, we grew up in the shadow of Punxsutawney Phil and that was tough enough. You should see the hate mail we’d get when he predicted six more weeks of winter. But growing up a gay groundhog is the topic of another documentary altogether. (Take note, Oprah.)
In Becoming Chaz, we’re given a deeply intimate look at the process Chastity Bono underwent to become a man named Chaz, her true self. From testosterone shots to having her breasts surgically removed to look more masculine, nothing is off-limits to the documentarians’ cameras. (Unfortunately, that includes girlfriend Jennifer Elia popping Chaz’s back zits after the surgery. We could’ve gone a lifetime without seeing that.)
The most surprising thing of the whole documentary isn’t Chaz’s lack of contact with mom Cher during the emotional transition, but how dramatically the testosterone changes his body and overall attitude. In many scenes, he’s a real dick. (Irony duly noted.) But that’s what makes this film so fascinating. It doesn’t just present a glamourized version of the transgender experience and promote Chaz as a folk hero for the movement. They’ve left that up to the media at large.
The result is an eye-opening look into the struggles of somebody fighting to feel normal, no matter how extreme the path to that eventuality. It also brings up questions about labels and how irrelevant they can be. Not everything is answered, but this is one hour-and-a-half of television that will certainly get conversations started.
Like why Chaz is so obsessed with sandwiches. Discuss.
‘Becoming Chaz’ premieres tonight, Tuesday, May 10, 9:00 p.m. ET/PT
Followed by ‘The Doc Club with Rosie O’Donnell’ featuring a discussion on the film
OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network