Review: Becoming Chaz
Over the last few months I have seen Chaz Bono give many interviews about his transition. Most of the time he is asked about both his book, Transition: The Story of How I Became a Man, and his documentary, Becoming Chaz. He always comes across as exceptionally honest and forthright, choosing not to concentrate on how we might perceive him, but rather on telling the truth about his life and journey.
Some of the clips I have seen are that of him walking with his partner, Jenny, and I am always amazed at the level of ignorance the people shouting questions have. Things like what beer will you drink now you are a man and what strip clubs will you go to now – Jesus Christ some people really are think as shit aren’t they?
One of the best interviews was on Oprah of course. Winfrey’s new network, OWN, bought the rights to the documentary and Bono was interviewed on her show in May of this year just before it was aired. After seeing this interview I was more determined than ever to see Becoming Chaz but I had tried to get it several times and failed. Then to my delight it appeared on the programme for the Gaze film festival and I was all set.
The film was on in the Project Arts Centre in Dublin. I love this venue although why the room was about a million degrees on this day I don’t know and why I wore a jumper I’m not sure either, but I had a packet of strawberry sherbets tucked in my bag, so I was alright!
The film was very personal and honest, I don’t just mean for Chaz himself but for everyone in his life, his partner, his friends, his mother, they all wore their hearts on their sleeves and you just have to admire them for that. Chaz himself let the cameras follow him to the hospital for his top surgery and also to his home where he and Jenny had to take some time to get used to his new moods. The whole thing was very understandable and you empathised with them both. (clip from oprah.com available here).
You also see him working with young trans people and that was wonderful to see. I must admit I hadn’t seen work like this before and it was incredibly uplifting to see the parents of these young people talk so openly. We see him getting ready to go to court to have the gender changed on his documentation as well, at each step you are filled with happiness for this guy who is just trying to live his life in truth.
I don’t think this film ticks every box but to be fair I don’t think it tries to. Chaz simply knew he couldn’t transition in private, being who he is, so he decided to go all out and show his story. He is not claiming to represent anyone but himself and he does so with quiet dignity. I would recommend this film as in the end it’s the tale of a man’s journey told sincerely, and that is always worth respecting.