Transition author Chaz Bono, 43, born as Chastity to Cher and Sonny Bono, has lived much of his life in the public eye. Though he came out as a lesbian in 1995, it was around 2000 when he began to consider himself as transgendered. He didn’t undergo the full transformation until 2009 out of concern over the reaction he might receive. “I just had a tremendous amount of fear of what other people would think of me if I transitioned, and knowing that I would have to do it in the public eye was something that really scared me and I thought that I would get a lot of criticism from people,” Bono told Uinterview exclusively. “And I guess kind of slowly over time I worked through a lot of that stuff and mostly I just came to understand that I needed to take care of myself and my needs first and not be so concerned of what other people thought of me.”

Bono also reflected on the impact of seeing his body physically transform. “For me when my body started to change from the testosterone, it just felt really natural like it was reacting the way that I felt like it should react the first time I went through puberty, only I was going through it again at forty, so that was a little different. So everything was just exciting and felt really right,” he told us.

Bono has made the media rounds in recent years. His documentary, Becoming Chaz, was screened at the Sundance Film Festival, also airing on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network, and in 2011, Bono was a contestant on Dancing with the Stars. Today, after a long journey of personal discovery, Bono is more at peace with himself. “My life doesn’t really resemble anything that I experienced before and I am just so grateful really, every day to feel so comfortable and complete.”

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Q: What were your feelings about gender and identity growing up? - Uinterview User

I would just say that as far back as I have memory I felt like a boy. At that time obviously, I didn’t know about transgender or probably even sexual orientation yet. I just knew that I felt like a boy and was attracted to the things generally that boys are attracted to as far as clothes and toys and friends and all of that.

Q: How did your parents react to your coming out? - Uinterview User

Well, I think the first thing just to say is that, when I was about 13 or 14 the one thing that kind of became clear to me was that I found woman attractive and since I knew what gay and lesbian was, I just made the assumption that that must be, you know, feeling different my whole life, that must be what it is. And coming out to my family and everything was definitely the most difficult on my mother and was something though that she quickly turned around with after having a very initial big reaction.

Q: How would you describe the period between coming out and your gender transition? - Uinterview User

Yeah it was somewhat confusing and I just felt like I was doing something wrong really, like I was just a really bad lesbian. There was just nothing about me that was feminine or female or identified with anything feminine or female. And I would get in a lot of relations with women who seemed to try and change me in some way. It was almost as challenging being with lesbians as it was being with straight women when I was younger. They were looking for something in me that I didn’t really have to give.

Q: What factors brought you to the decision to identify as male? - Uinterview User

It was a decision that took many many years to make. I realized that I was transgender around 2000 and I didn’t start my transition until 2009. I just had a tremendous amount of fear of what other people would think of me if I transitioned, and knowing that I would have to do it in the public eye was something that really scared me and I thought that I would get a lot of criticism from people. And I guess kind of slowly over time I worked through a lot of that stuff and mostly I just came to understand that I needed to take care of myself and my needs first and not be so concerned of what other people thought of me.

Q: How did you approach the subject of gender identity with your family? - Uinterview User

Initially, when we talked about it, it went really well. There were a series of conversations over a period of years as I was kind of processing everything myself. But when I started to actually transition and changes started to happen it became difficult for her and we took some time apart.

Q: What was it like seeing your body physically change? - Uinterview User

For me when my body started to change from the testosterone it just felt really natural like it was reacting the way that I felt like it should react the first time I went through puberty, only I was going through it again at forty, so that was a little different. So everything was just exciting and felt really right.

Q: How did you feel about the public reaction to your appearance on 'Dancing with the Stars'? - Uinterview User

You know all of the criticism that I got about 'Dancing with the Stars' happened before I stepped onto the dance floor. So my hope was that once the show actually started and people saw me out there a lot of that would die down and that’s really exactly what happened. It was much ado about nothing.

Q: How do you feel today about the journey you’ve taken? - Uinterview User

Today, I’m doing really well. My life doesn’t really resemble anything that I experienced before and I am just so grateful really, every day to feel so comfortable and complete.