Story written By Jenny Johnston
Of all the challenges that parenting brings, this is one that few consider they might have to face. Halfway through a moving documentary about her firstborn’s life, the singer Cher falters. There isn’t much sign of emotion in her face – thanks to all that cosmetic help – but it is there in her voice and eyes. She refers to her child as ‘she’, then ‘he’, admitting she is ‘struggling with the pronouns’. ‘At some point, I’ll have to start calling her “him”,’ she concedes.
In law, there is no confusion. Chaz Bono – born to famous parents Sonny and Cher in 1969 – has been male for the past year, since his female-to-male sex change. Before that, ‘she’ was Chastity Bono, a grown-up, mixed-up version of the cute little girl with blonde ringlets who made her public debut on her parents’ TV show. There were many parts of the Sonny and Cher story that did not live up to the all-American dream. The I’ve Got You Babe
singers divorced in 1975 and there were accusations of wife-beating and controlling behaviour.