Chaz Bono, formerly Chastity, is the sole child of 70's TV stars Sonny and Cher. In 1995 she publicly announced she was gay after having been outed in the tabloids, and I don't think anyone was surprised by this news. This film, produced by Chaz Bono himself and financed by Oprah Winfrey and other entertainment power brokers, documents her physical and psychological transformation from female to male, culminating in gender reassignment surgery in 2010. The production value is quite good, the subject not so much, which I will get back to. Gender transition is arguably a topic most people know little to nothing about. The steps one must take to invert his or her gender, legally, financially, socially, and psychologically, speak to the need for this transition, not the want. The film does a good job to inform the viewer that yes there are those of us who never fit into the gender in which they were born and that this phenomena is quite real. Chaz was one of the lucky few to have the means and support by which to surgically alter herself into a man, at least as close to a man as current medical techniques can confer. We are given intimate insight into how this transition, from hormone therapy to scalpel, impacts relationships for better or worse. Chaz's mother, Cher, lends the lone dissenting voice to her daughter's decision to switch. I was actually surprised to see her agree to be interviewed in this film and her narrative was unmistakably vague and evasive. Otherwise the film is crafted to showcase Chaz as both a heroic and tragic figure, even something as a victim of cultural indifference to her struggle for acceptance both socially and personally. But I just wasn't buying it. Chaz ostensibly made this film to lend a voice to the LGBT community as well as PSA for transgender equality. I suppose his celebrity status was supposed to propel that message. Yet I found him boring, uninteresting, untalented, and something of an attention vampire. I really struggled to like Chaz. What I felt was here is this person, with this problem, and without the last name would be a forgettable nobody, who creates a film for himself and demands we celebrate him. While I do not dismiss the struggle in the abstract, the film did not compel my sympathy for a privileged "famous for nothing" person suffering from internal identity issues. The world has real problems and Chaz Bono does not deserve 90 self- congratulatory minutes of veneration.
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