12 June 2011

Chaz Bono and Me: Hey, You Never Know!

I'm thinking now of a man who was a colleague of mine back when I was the "before" photo.  Tall, portly and with an easy manner, he's one of those guys who's avuncular at 50 and is now almost grandfatherly.  I'm guessing that he's about 65, give or take a few years.

Anyway, back in January, I bumped into him.  We hadn't seen each other in about a dozen years.  He had heard about me because I stopped at the college where we used to teach and where his brother was still teaching.  His brother seemed more bemused, but he--I'll call him Jimmy--was actually quite sympathetic when I bumped into him.  "I was surprised, really," he said.  "I thought you were straight, you seemed pretty masculine and you were so athletic."

He thought for a moment and added," I guess you just never know who is."

I thought of that when I was talking with my mother today.  She saw Chaz Bono on a program--I forget which--on a cable network.  "She, I mean he, has such a big neck," she said.  

"I know.  It's a linebacker's neck."

"Yeah, you're right.  She, I mean he, really changed."

I then explained some of the effects of taking testosterone, and the fact that, because it's a stronger hormone than estrogen, the changes in female-to-male transsexuals are usually even more pronounced than those in male-to-females who take estrogen.

"But he really looks different from when he was Chastity!," my mother exclaimed.   Then, she paused in a way she rarely does; I guessed that she was trying not to mix up the pronouns.  "You know," she said, "Chastity was really cute."

"Yes, I remember her from those old Sonny and Cher shows."

Chastity, as I remember, really was cute, in an almost Shirley Temiple-ish sort of way.  But even then--about four decades ago--I saw something unusual in her.  I couldn't articulate what it was, but I somehow had the feelng it had to do with whether or not she would like boys when she got a little older.

And now he's one of them.  As they say in the old country, "Hey, you never know!"