Fenton Bailey

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TV/Streaming

Chaz Bono: On Being and Becomingness

"Becoming Chaz" airs Sunday, November 27 6PM ET/PT on OWN before the 8 p.m. premiere of its follow-up, "Being Chaz."

Not too long ago, I was planning to marry a woman who was born a man, so Chaz Bono's story is a bit familiar. It's pretty simple, really, and you've heard it a thousand times by now: A transgender person feels trapped in the "wrong" body. Just for acting upon this lifelong impulse by changing their physical characteristics to better represent their true selves, transpeople are being assaulted and murdered in shameful numbers. The movie "Boys Don't Cry" might have softened a few bigoted hearts around this issue, but the killing continues worldwide.

Chaz, born Chastity Bono to celebrity couple Sonny and Cher, could have lived through his transition from female to male in private, but it's clear in the documentary "Becoming Chaz" that he knew the true cost of invisibility in such a transphobic world. He let the cameras roll during some unflattering, raw moments--the idea being that this story shouldn't idealize his experience any more than it should exploit it for freak show appeal. The aim is to show that Chaz, the man, is as real as you and I, not an illusion to be brought off. It's hard to imagine that the killers out there might be moved by all this candor, but those whose indifference or unawareness helps perpetuate discrimination should at least get a healthy jolt of recognition. "Becoming Chaz" is as much about the kind-faced "Dancing with the Stars" contestant's relationship as it is about his metamorphosis. That was my way into the film: I know a little bit about being "the partner."

Festivals & Awards

Tammy Faye's story captured in documentary

PARK CITY, Utah -- "When she was born," her aunt recalls, "she had perfectly manicured fingernails." She still does. She also has eyelashes so firmly attached that she never removes them: "They have to sort of wear out. When one falls off, I replace it." Tammy Faye Bakker, once the evangelizing queen of a global satellite network, now "living in virtual exile in a gated community in Palm Springs," came to the Sundance Film Festival over the weekend and won the hearts of the heathens.