Chaz Bono Disappoints, Fails to Realize His Significance


Photo by: Larry Valenzuela

Chaz Bono at the Fresno City College auditorium.

It is a myth that respect comes naturally among people with a similar lifestyle; unfortunately, that is wrong.

As a trans individual, learning that someone — not just any anyone — but Chaz Bono, was going to be speaking at our college was quite exhilarating, up until the actual interview between Bono and

Communication Instructor and LGBTQ advocate, Jerry Thurston.

The interview — a one-on-one between Bono and Thurston — took place on Oct. 8, 2015 at Fresno City College’s Old Administration Auditorium.

While Thurston effortlessly asked the questions, I found Bono to be very tight-lipped. This was very disappointing to me because it was important for Bono to allow himself to be open with the audience, but especially to other trans folks as well as their supporters in the audience.

I had looked forward to this interview because of how vital it is to the FCC community to understand and expand our knowledge about trans folks. This speech could have offered specific advice to people in the trans community on many issues, including coming out or how life is once you get your transition started.

In actual reality, that is not how it went on that Thursday afternoon at all. Bono, whom I thought to be a positive advocate for the trans community, did not live up to my expectations of him, based on the information I had gathered from research.

In fact, as the exchange between Bono and Thurston progressed and Thurston asked questions pertaining to Bono’s life, aside from his documentary and publications, Bono responded to every personal question with hesitation.

From my perspective as a member of the audience, it felt as if Bono felt irritated at the fact that he had to speak in front of the audience. It showed in his body language and short answers.

Bono was more than willing to speak on topics already widely publicized in his book, films and plays. I believe that was when he talked most freely in the course of the exchanges with Thurston.

As the interview came to a close and people in the audience had a chance to ask Bono some questions, many asked questions pertaining to coming out, Bono’s significant weight loss journey as well as the Sonny and Cher show. My impression of Bono went down south because of the way he handled the situation.

I had been so excited to get up there and ask a question pertaining to my previous article about Transgender Stereotypes. My question to Bono was, “Was there any specific stereotype you feared when coming out as trans?”

I had no idea what to expect, because so far, Bono had not made good impressions on me.

Bono’s response to my question left me feeling uneasy and quite annoyed. His response was simply, “What do you mean by trans* stereotype?”

At that moment, I felt my heart drop into my stomach. He had made me feel so small in an auditorium filled with over 1,000 people. I began to repeat myself, and he responded with no hesitation and threw my question back in my face. “There isn’t enough that people know to even stereotype us,” he said. “Trans folks, so I am unsure of what you’re asking.”

In that moment, I had realized that Bono wasn’t here to be a supportive trans* advocate, but instead, he was coming to advertise himself and his publications.

It made me sad knowing that the event didn’t go as planned, but overall, I was not impressed with Chaz Bono. He didn’t leave me hopeful about our advocates. I just hope that because of Bono’s actions, that people don’t feel like trans folks are rude and insensitive.

I know now not to have high expectations from a celebrity, but I thought that one who has been through so much would be willing to give of himself, if only to encourage others.

I know that trans or not and in spite of the commonalities, people are really who they are.