Oprah picks up “Becoming Chaz”


Great news for Chaz Bono and transgender visibility: Oprah’s TV network, OWN, announced that it will air the television premiere of Becoming Chaz in May.

The film will debut at Sundance on January 23 and documents Chaz’s emotional and physical transformation from female (as Chastity) to male. If this brief clip is any indication, the documentary offers a powerful and poignant experience.

The network is planning a party at Sundance to celebrate the deal with Chaz in attendance; he also will be at the first showing of the film on Sunday.

Chaz with girlfriend of four years Jennifer Elia

OWN’s choice to premiere Becoming Chaz is very encouraging. In the announcement, network CCO Lisa Erspamer said, “We are proud to present this heartfelt and honest portrayal of Chaz’s personal transformation to our viewers. These courageous documentaries engage conversation and we are pleased to have them join OWN.”

What this tells me is that Oprah is serious when she says that she takes full responsibility for the energy of her network. She wants OWN programming to be meaningful and to connect with the audience, regardless of ratings. As with everything in her life, Oprah views the channel as a way to help people find the path to their highest selves. By including Becoming Chaz, OWN affirms that the transgender journey is one such path. That’s a huge statement.

Do you agree? Is OWN’s choice to air Becoming Chaz a positive step toward honest LGBT representation on TV? Any suggestions for other queer-positive content the network could pick up?

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