National Coming Out Week keynote speaker Chaz Bono addressed spoke to a crowded HUB-Robeson Center Auditorium on Thursday night about his decades long journey to transitioning into a man.
The event was hosted by the LGBTA Student Resource Center as well as the University Park Allocation Committee.
Bono began by urging viewers to vote before discussing on transitioning from with his earliest memories, at the age of five or six, when Bono said he already felt like a boy.
While Bono’s friends and adults in his life had originally made Bono feel accepted, this would soon change as he moved into puberty.
“[It was] suddenly like being a cute little tomboy wasn’t so cute,” Bono said.
As the decades went on, Bono said he experienced multiple struggles with his sexual identity, including his original “coming out” as a lesbian.
“[Initially] I came up with this theory that there was a [portion] of the lesbian community that felt more like men [and] wished they were men, but kind of made the best of it,” Bono said.
Yet, in the years to come, he realized that this was not the case but this did not make his journey to transition any easier.
“I tried everything I could think of not to transition,” Bono said, regretting this decision and telling the audience not to follow this way of thinking
Bono grappled with his sexuality for years, and headed down a destructive path before realizing that transsexualism is not something to be criticized or misunderstood but who he was.
Bono recalled multiple “red flags” during his life where the idea that he was transsexual should have become visible, but it did not happen.
While describing himself as “different,” Bono said he did not know much about he transgender community during his upbringing, around the 70s and 80s, as it was not popularized.
“I didn’t know it was possible to feel so comfortable, to feel so authentic, to feel so safe,” Bono said about his experience after beginning to transition.
At the end of his speech, Bono answered questions from the audience before he went in front of the auditorium to sign copies of his book, sold at a table across from him, and meet people.
Whether attending for the possibility of extra credit or simply to become more informed, students felt that Bono’s talk would enlighten their perspectives on transgender individuals.
Students Erica Fry (senior-biobehavioural health) and Angela Turo said they originally came to the event to gain extra credit in their biobehavioural health classes but also wanted to learn more about the transgender community.
Turo (senior-biobehavioural health) said she had discussed transsexualism in textbooks but it would be interesting to hear about he process from a living person.
Student Alecia Panuski, a supporter of Bono, agreed with this sentiment and added that the event presented her with the opportunity to become more informed on the subject.
“Well I’m definitely a supporter and ally of the LGBT community,” Panuski (sohpomore-political science and history) said. “I have been following Chaz’s career for years.”
Panuski said she has two friends from home who are transitioning and the talk provided her with valuable information
“I feel like I could be a better friend to [them], understand what [they are] going through more, and be a better support system,” she said.