Chaz Bono made his documentary to 'give back what was given to me when I was in such a dark place'

Check out Bono's full interview with Demi Lovato on '4D with Demi Lovato'
Chaz Bono
Photo credit Getty Images
By , Audacy

During a conversation on 4D with Demi Lovato, available on the Audacy app, Chaz Bono spoke to the “Dancing With The Devil” singer about carrying the title of being a trailblazer, his identity, his transition, and how his acting career stays separate from his activism and trans identity.

As one of the early public figures to share their trans identity and transition with the media and with the public, Bono tells Demi, “it’s funny, because having lived it, I don’t think of myself as that brave. Honestly, I figured out that I was trans almost ten years before I transitioned, and was terrified.”

Being born in 1969 and growing up in the 70s, Chaz tells us that he always knew there was something different about himself, but at the time topics like this were not discussed as openly as they are today. “I knew that I wished I was a boy, I knew I felt like a boy, and I didn’t have a name for it,” says the actor.

At 13 Chaz began identifying his attraction to girls, but at the time the only language he had for it was “gay and lesbian.” “I tried to fit into that identity for about 30 years,” says Bono.

By the early 2000s, the American Horror Story: Cult actor said he still didn’t feel like identifying as a lesbian was authentic to his identity. “For a really long time I thought there was a part of the lesbian community that felt like me, which was ‘I feel like a man, I wish I were a man, I’m not so I’ll have to deal with it.’”

After understanding that he might identify as trans, Bono says it took him “years to unpack that.” Adding, “at the time I still hadn’t gotten sober yet, so I was still dealing with substance abuse, and then once I did I was still dealing witha tremendous fear of rejection from everybody… including people I didn’t know and would never meet.”

Finally, the Reboot Camp actor says he reached a place where he didn’t care and “was ready to finally take care of myself.” He adds that Al-Anon was the tool that helped him the most when he was finally ready to identify as transgender. When Chaz finally transitioned he tells Demi that he was five years sober. “What Al-Anon really teaches you is how to take care of yourself, first and foremost,” explains Bono.

Transitioning in a time before the prominence of social media and YouTube or more widely spread access to conversations around transitioning, Chaz used the best resources he could find.

As a public figure beginning to transition, Chaz shared, “I knew that there was no way I’d be able to do it privately, so it was either I tell my story, or I let others tell my story and they’re not going to do it well. And also, you know, while I was in that process of trying to find that strength to transition I did two things….I read trans people’s books about their transitions and I watched documentaries.”

Once starting his own journey, the actor said he felt strongly about making a documentary and writing a book about his transition. He says he aimed to “kind of give back what was given to me when I was in such a dark place of knowing who I was, what I needed to do, what would make me happy, but being too afraid to do it.”

Listen to Chaz’s full inte