Story By: Kathy Posner

Chaz Bono

In Judaism, children are not obligated to observe the commandments; although they are encouraged to learn and follow the obligations they will have as adults. At the age of 13 for boys (12 for girls), children are considered to have become adults and are required to observe the commandments. At the ceremony that marks the occasion, a Bar Mitzvah, the celebrant always proclaims at the start of his speech, “Today I am a man.” Chastity Bono, born a woman, could have proclaimed those words after his transition.

The Merriam Webster dictionary, defines transgender as “of, relating to, or being a person (as a transsexual or transvestite) who identifies with or expresses a gender identity that differs from the one which corresponds to the person's sex at birth.” Basically, the sexual organs that a person was born with does not match the gender that the person feels he or she really is. According to the Human Rights Campaign Human Rights Campaign, “There are no concrete statistics on the number of transgender people in the United States. Estimates on the number of transsexual people, which ignore the broader transgender population, range anywhere from 0.25 to 1 percent of the U.S. population. These estimates are dated and likely under count the transsexual population because, for example, they do not account for people who have not yet undergone, cannot (for medical, financial, safety or other reasons) or choose not to undergo sex reassignment surgeries.”

Since the U.S. Census Bureau estimates the 2010 population of the United States at 308,745,538, even if we use the small estimate figure of .025%, we would arrive at more than 77,000 people who are transgender. The figure is probably more in the hundreds of thousands.

As Bono described his life in an interview with Cynthia McFadden on Nightline, in May of this year, "It's actually pretty simple if you look at it,” Bono said. “We all in the womb start out as female and then hormones come and we either stay female or we become male. I think of it as hormones that, you know, went in the brain but not in the body, and that's all being transgender is. It's just that the sex of your body and the gender of the brain don't match up.”

Because of his sexual confusion, Bono thought he was lesbian. He said in the McFadden interview, “It was my 13th birthday, actually, and my best friend, we were living in New York, my mom was doing a play there. I mistook sexual orientation for gender identity. I went for the obvious answer.” Later, he realized he was not gay, but transgender.

Being transgender is not a conscious choice people make. It is just what they are, just as some are born with blue eyes or black hair. Yet for some reason, the fact that Chaz Bono has been selected to be a participant on Dancing With The Stars (DWTS) has outraged some people.

One of the groups,, a part of the American Family Association, finds Bono’s participation a major issue and is urging people to write to the ABC network (which airs DWTS) to complain that they will not tolerate not only Bono being on the show, but also Carson Kressley, who is gay. The site says, “Both are LGBT rights advocates and promote this destructive lifestyle. DWTS is helping them create visibility for the LGBT community.”

What makes this story so fascinating for me is because of what faithful blog reader and Kathy Posner fan club president, Sue Kupcinet, wrote to me after my posting the Michael Vick blog and my feelings about his return to football. Sue wondered why someone like Michael Vick is forgiven after he had consciously committed such heinous crimes -- yet people are judging Chaz Bono because of a biological mix up in his brain that happened by no conscious choice of Bono’s.

British poet Thomas Babington Macaulay said, “The measure of a man's real character is what he would do if he knew he never would be found out.” Bono is more a man than Vick will ever be.


JAMES EDSTROM'S NOTE: We kinda feel guilty on the life Chasity AKA Chaz Bono has had to live. We feel like we were part of the early misery when she thought she was a lesbian.

It all started many many years ago. I was very new in the business, and I had a lot to learn.

It all started one evening when I was photographing the dress rehearsal for Kathleen Turner's former hubby Jay Weiss. She was starring on Broadway in Cat In A Hot Tin Roof. I did a lot of photo shoots with Kathleen and Jay and I loved his band the Blue Suits. And Kathleen was always such fun to hang out with.

After I photographed the dress rehearsal, I got a phone call from a friend telling me that Chasity Bono was in a band with her girlfriend and I should go down to the Cat Club on 13th street and get some cool photos. No one at this time knew Chasity was a Lesbian, or as we know it now transgender.

So we head down to the Cat Club and are greeted at the door by Cher's publicist and Lawyer. They were quite friendly. They said I could come in and have a few drinks with them, but I had to check the camera. Since I was gay myself, I was not at the club to out anyone, I was there to have a good time and to see the show.

So I am in the club, Cher's publicist Lisa, started buying me drinks and hanging out with me. Cher's Lawyer also joined us. We watched the show, and it was crazy. Chasity and her girlfriend were dressed sixties style and it looked like they were singing love songs together, just like Sonny and Cher used to do. But the show was good, and I had such fun hanging out with Cher's people. We all exchanged phone numbers, and I thought I had new friends. How wrong I was.

As I was leaving the club, I went to get my camera which was checked in the club's office. Cher's people all kissed me goodbye and I left the club. I am like a block away, when I look into the window of the camera and I see the film was gone. I could not believe it. Cher's people stole my film so I could not get a photo of the girls together. I was in shock as I thought I had just made new friends. I headed back to the club and I confronted Cher's people and they said they destroyed the film and they should have roughed me up, who was I to show up at the club with a camera. I said I thought we were friends, and I told them they just destroyed Kathleen Turners dress rehearsal that was to be a gift the next night at her opening. They told me to get lost.

So I am outside the Cat Club and I am yelling at Cher's Lawyer, I think his name was Fred. He is telling me to get lost and I tell him I do not walk around NYC with just one roll of film. I tell him I have pockets full, and while I am telling him this, I'm loading up the camera.

Bingo, the club door opens and Chasity and her girlfriend walk out and I snap a quick shot. I thought, this is what they get. The club bouncers went crazy and started coming after me. I ran down 13th street and I look behind me and its Cher's Lawyer chasing me. He was a very short guy, I mean short. I flag down a cab and he approaches me and demands the film. I look at this short Lawyer and I tell him what he and Lisa did to me was the worst thing they could do for a working photographer. I did nothing to deserve this. This Lawyer keeps demanding the film and trying to block me from getting in the cab. I look at him and I tell him if he does not move, I will give him a beating he will never forget and I jumped into the cab and left.

Next day, I'm talking to Richard Johnson from page Six in The New York Post. He contacted me, I was new in the business and had no idea I even had a big story. I tell him everything and the next day the Headline is "Chasity's Bitter Clash With Photographer." The story outed her and that night I went on several TV shows to tell my story. The world finally new Chasity was gay and it was not something I did on purpose. It all happened because of Cher's people who treated me so horrible.

So a few years later, Chasity does Oprah. She tells Oprah that the tabloids set her up to be outed. This was so far from the truth. Chasity Bono was outed because her mothers Lawyer and record people acted so mean. Cher's people caused the outing, they stole from me for no reason. I never went to that club to out anyone, I was there to see a show and have some fun.

I have always felt bad that Chasity thought she was set up and I felt so guilty that I was the reason she was outed. I have seen her around a few times over the years, but I never had the opportunity to tell her the true story. Growing up gay in the 70's, I knew how hard that was. To think that Chasity who is now Chaz has had to go through all this transgender switching is a testament to what a strong person he is. It's not easy to be the son or daughter of a huge star like Cher. Everything she does is headlines, and since I am in the business for so many years, I know how hard this has been for Chaz. It is hard for someone that does not have famous parents, yet alone a son or daughter of someone so famous.

I am forever sorry if I have caused any pain in Chaz's life. I really am. I am reading hate comments on other sites about Chaz being on Dancing With The Stars. I can not believe that people are so judgemental. These are most likely the same people who are in the closet and cheating on their wife. In life, the most anti gay people are usually the ones in the closet. I remember in High School, the guys who used to call me faggot and queer, I saw years later in gay clubs, and most of them were married with children. It's almost always the closet case that picks on the gay or transgender person. Look at the politicians who vote down gay rights and then they are caught in a gay scandal.

Chaz Bono should dance on Dancing With The Stars. He has every right too and Chaz has more guts than any of these closet cases could ever have. Straight and closet cases think they have more rights than gay or transgender people. They do not!

Photo By: RD/Orchon/Retna