For many, Cher became the first mother of a transgender person they ever knew, even from afar, when her child Chaz Bono came out as a trans man in 2009. By both hers and Bono’s account, her reaction to his coming out was not good. But now, more than a decade later, she has some very powerful, convincing words she likes to share with other parents of transgender children, to help them understand that they’re not losing the child they raised.
“Look, I didn’t handle [Chaz’s coming out] all that well in the beginning,” Cher told SheKnows when she called us to promote her role in Bobbleheads: The Movie, out now on digital and DVD. “It took me a minute. Because you’ve been with a child for 40 years, and then all of a sudden … but you know what? Chaz was so happy!”
No matter how old a child is, their happiness is still important to their parents, and that is what she conveys to others who ask her for advice on how to understand and react to their kids coming out as transgender.
“As a matter of fact, I was just telling this to my friend last night,” she said. “It’s like, if I woke up in the morning, and I wasn’t me anymore and I didn’t feel like me and I couldn’t be me, I would just be beyond grief stricken. And that’s what I have to tell a mother or father: You are who you are, but how would you feel if you were someone else and you couldn’t be that someone else? That’s how I had to get it. And, you know, I didn’t do it all that well in the beginning. So, I can’t take too many kudos, but now, it’s fabulous.”
Cher has been a mother in the public eye for five decades now, so she’s had time to reflect on how she raised Bono and her second son, Elijah Blue Allman. Though both sons reportedly had disputes with their mother as adults, she thinks they turned out pretty well, and they’re reportedly on good terms now.
“It’s a hard thing to be the child of someone who’s famous, and I think they did really, really well,” she said. “They had so much patience. And I think I could have done better. But, I tried to instill in them a good moral compass, and I’m proud of them for that, because they have it.”
Cher saw this in Allman when he was just a 5-year-old boy, she told us.
“Elijah, one day we were in New York and he was little, and he came upstairs and went, ‘Mom, we have to go to Bloomingdale’s and buy a puffy coat,'” she recounted. “I said, ‘All right, and why do we have to do this?’ And he said, ‘Because there’s a man downstairs, and he has no jacket on and it’s really freezing.’ And I said, ‘All right, let’s go.’ We bought a puffy coat. We brought it to the man, and he said, ‘I’m so thrilled that you gave me this, and I’m going to put this in my locker. But if I have on a $500 coat, I’m not going to get any money!'”
Cher added that Chaz has also “alway had the biggest heart.” Though she thinks she modeled that good, moral compass for her kids through her actions, she doesn’t want credit for how they turned out.
“I really think I have good children,” she said. “It’s certainly not all my doing, for sure.”
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