Mazola1's Reviews > Transition: The Story of How I Became a Man

Transition by Chaz Bono
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Sep 02, 2011

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Perhaps the most surprising thing about Chaz Bono's book Transition is how ordinary it is. While for most books this observation would be dismissive criticism, for this book, it's anything but. Transition might have been expected to be the typical celebrity tattletale memoir, a minor celebrity cashing in on moving in a world peopled with celebrities and superstars. After all, the author is the only child of pop icons Sonny and Cher, has been in the public eye since infancy, first came out as a lesbian amid much publicity, and then as a transgendered person amid even greater publicity. That life story would seem to have all the makings of a sensational Hollywood style autobiography replete with family secrets, gossip and scandal.

To his credit, that isn't the book Bono wrote. Instead, he wrote a memoir which makes his life seem rather unremarkable, the story of a person with problems and sorrows, hopes and dreams. Although Transition is represented as the story of how Bono transitioned from woman to man, it is actually an autobiography, and is not limited to the physical transition from woman to man. In this, Bono was very wise, because it puts his transgender transition into the broader context of his whole life. What emerges, oddly enough, given the rarity of the condition and the oddity of being born to such famous parents, is a life story that seems universal.

Bono writes about such mundane matters as difficulties in high school, conflicts with parents, relationships gone bad, worries about what to do for a living, problems fought and overcome, and less successful struggles. Because of the universal nature of these parts of life Bono's tale, one can almost forget about the transgender story and the famous parents. The genius of this book is that Bono is able to make those seemingly odd aspects of his life fit into an otherwise somewhat conventional life story. In this, he is able to connect to the human in us all, as each of us struggles with our own issues and problems.

Perhaps this air of ordinariness is what also makes Transition one of the best explanations in print of what it feels like to be transgendered. This is something I think most people, if they think about it at all, have great difficulty understanding. Transition is tells this story convincingly and clearly. So, although the writing certainly cannot be described as riveting or inspired, Transition is nonetheless an interesting and important book -- a contribution to helping us to understand those who are different from ourselves.

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September 2, 2011 – Shelved

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