Thursday, June 18, 2009
The Courage of Chaz Bono
Dr. Michelle Golland: Chaz Bono's decision to go through the process of becoming a man is one that, as a mental health professional, I know will benefit other people struggling with the same issue: now they have an open and public role model to look toward.
I am a clinical psychologist, so I do not look at the issue of sexual orientation or gender identity through the lens of either politics or religion. I believe these issues are inherently personal, and as a professional working with the GLBT community, I view them as humanitarian issues first and foremost.
Since he came out as a lesbian many years ago, Chaz has been a role model for the gay and lesbian community, fighting for equal rights and to stop prejudice and discrimination against the GLBT community. His decision to undergo gender reassignment surgery takes great courage. It is a courageous decision for anyone, even if one is not doing it publicly.
What should you do if your child comes to you with this deeply personal revelation, whether they are gay, lesbian, or struggling with their gender identity? I believe it is important to explain some clinical terms regarding this topic.
Sexual Orientation: Enduring emotional, romantic, or sexual feelings toward other people.
Gender Identity: A person's own internal sense of being male or female: this results from a combination of genetic and environmental influences.
Transgender: This is a broad term describing the state of a person's gender identity that does not match his/her assigned gender at birth. Chaz Bono would be considered "transgender." He was born biologically a female, but his gender identity is that of a male. The hormone therapy and possible sex change surgery would bring his external world to match his internal experience of himself.
at 6:05 AM