Chastity Bono To Become Chaz Bono

Chastity Bono announced plans this week to undergo sex reassignment surgery.

Chastity, the child of singers Cher and Sonny Bono, came out as a lesbian 20 years ago -- even writing a book about the experience to help others along in the process. In the book Family Outing: A Guide to the Coming-Out Process for Gays, Lesbians and Their Families, Bono described what it was like to realize she was "somehow different -- specifically different from who my mom expected me to be."

Now the 40-year-old activist and writer says she has always been more Chaz than Chastity and has begun sexual reassignment.

"Yes, it's true -- Chaz, after many years of consideration, has made the courageous decision to honor his true identity," confirms Bono's publicist, Howard Bragman. "He is proud of his decision and grateful for the support and respect that has already been shown by his loved ones. It is Chaz's hope that his choice to transition will open the hearts and minds of the public regarding this issue, just as his 'coming out' did nearly 20 years ago. We ask that the media respect Chaz's privacy during this long process. He will not be doing any interviews at this time."

No comment from Cher's lips, but stepmom Mary Bono says she "loves and supports Chaz" and that she "is hopeful that his privacy and very personal decisions will be respected during this time."

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