Friday, June 24, 2011


He's made a full-time, lifetime job of being a man.

"Poor Cher," I thought as I absorbed what her son, her erstwhile daughter, said in the interview that you can see below.

Chaz is 42, an actor, writer, and activist. Chastity was his name. Back in the days when Sonny and Cher had daughter "Chastity" appear with them in their television show, I cringed.

It's Mother's instinct -- my husband and I are in showbiz. I cringed because I disapprove of involving your child in your career, whatever it is. A career in showbiz means a lifetime of re-making yourself. No matter how successful you are, you will be job-hunting, selling yourself all your life.

Name any star -- Susan Sarandon, Diane Keaton, Woody Allen, or Hackman, Caine, Cosby, Parton ... (Suddenly, I'm remembering Charles During, a very dear actor-friend of ours -- I wonder how he's doing?) The older any name actor gets, the more time must be spent maintaining name status, unless -- like Gene Hackman -- the actor quits.

Chaz Bono is concentrating on being a man, putting all his time, energy and creativity into "Manhood." Physically, it's a long haul to go from being a little girl, then a lesbian in love with a girl, to being a male. It involves Chaz, currently, with testosterone injections and being surgically "fixed."

Chaz mentions his breasts and his "male" nipples. He mentions the surgical removal of his female beasts, but the status of his vagina or penis wasn't mentioned. (Yes, I can probably Google, and find out if the P or the V has been remade, removed, re-done, but it's not what concerns me about Chaz.)

I think about our son who is slightly older than Chaz, and the complex things that are involved in being a man -- "Man of the family" -- "Manhood."

I think of a man as a tree -- strong, sturdy, and there -- trunk, roots. branches always there unless lighting strikes, or other forces of nature knock the tree down.

My husband is a tree. It's the sturdy, heroic something about him, and his stance -- the shelter he provides for those who are in his domain -- on his land, in his zone, area, world, or whatever you deem it.

I'm not certain, but I'm sensing that right now Chaz is mostly thinking about "Manhood " as "Sexhood" -- the neighborhood of what arouses him, attracts him, inspires him sexually.

How does a man, a young man, a boy learn about manhood? Mostly from the men in his life, or from movies, comic books, and literature -- he perceives the way a man behaves and imitates it.

The men in his life, and his mother's life, came and went and probably weren't there for him.

I can only apply Em-logic, Em-theory, which is my belief that actions speak louder than words. , "Action" can be in the mind and quietly active -- mostly taking in what a man does, and doing stuff in a man-like way.

Yes, I am back to the tree growing -- protective, reaching out with arms that are branches with leaves, twigs -- old leaves or budding new ones -- but always, always rooted on the land on where you, the tree, continue to grow.

Hey ho, that' s my thought for you, Chaz Bono. I realize you are in a transition right now. Clearly you are honest, and articulate, and all your energy is focused on handling the transition. I just want to remind you that being a man is not the surgery, the changing your physical equipment, or fulfilling your sexual needs.

Chaz, the man --a good man -- needs to reach out and embrace and protect, and be a tree for those whom he loves.


Carola said...

I was thinking about that strong tree aspect of manhood--wondering about what those tree men really feel: does it add extra internal pressure on oneself to be a strong tree?

Linda Phillips said...

I agree that Chaz is not there yet and maybe he never will be. His sex change seems to be all consuming for him and he may never reach the level that you are talking about Em.

I do know that he does not plan to have "bottom" surgery. He talked about everything regarding his life in a wonderful documentary on OWN. The "bottom" surgery has not been that well perfected yet for women transitioning to men. (It has for men transitioning to women). So he does not plan to do anything about that.

I think he has a very long way to go to reach what you are referring to and it may never happen, but I so totally applaud him for how well he has handled this, how he has dealt with the media and for how very sincere and honest he is.

He seems like the sweetest person. I for one would love to give him a huge hug and kiss. He is just that lovable.

Paul Mendenhall said...

That's a lovely vision of manhood you have Em, but let's face it, it's a stereotype, and trying to live-up to any preconceived notion of what one "should" be can be very debilitating. My father destroyed himself in the attempt.
I used to have a problem with transexuals, because I felt that they were just gay people who couldn't live with it, and so turned to hormones and surgery to try to become something "acceptable." I realize now that isn't the case. I can't imagine going to such extremes, but hey, it's their lives.

Cher was on Letterman a while back talking about this. She said Bill Mahre had made a crack about how anyone who grew-up with Cher for a mother was bound to be sexually screwed-up. "Dave said: "What is that supposed to mean?" Cher: "I dunno. Fuck him." LOL!

Terry said...

When I was in law school I took a "Law and Medicine" class and wrote a paper about the legal problems of transsexualism. Back then, the simplest of issues was a nightmare for them. (E.g., getting an amended birth certificate; getting the state to issue a new driver's license; being arrested for being in public in drag; getting insurance to pay for the procedure; being incarcerated in the prison for the sex you wanted to be, not the sex your DNA said you were.) Imagine having to deal with those problems on top of the psychological and family problems inherent in the matter!

We have a student worker who announced a few months ago that she no longer wanted to be a girl and was pursuing a sex change. She wanted us to start calling her by a male name she had chosen. I've done as he asked but I've always been curious. Which public bathroom does he use? Until one has had the surgery, how does one deal with those day-to-day issues?