Sexual Health

Chaz Bono Asks Judge to Change Name, Gender

Chaz Bono is asking a judge to formally change his name and gender.

The celebrity Web site obtained a copy of court documents in which a doctor states he performed "an irreversible surgical procedure for the purpose of altering Chaz Bono's sex characteristics from female to male."

The 41-year-old writer, activist and reality-TV star, was born female to Sonny Bono and Cher. He filed a petition to change his name and gender last week.

Bono reportedly began taking hormones and living as a man shortly after his birthday in March 2009. And while details of the procedure are not being disclosed, the world’s leading sex change surgeon said the fact is – female-to-male transition is not cut and dry. There are many options out there, Dr. Marci Bowers told Bowers is not only a leading expert in the field of genital reassignment surgery — or gender-confirming surgery, as she likes to call it — but she was also a patient at one time.

“The one procedure that female-to-males usually do is the chest procedure or mastectomy,” she said. “It’s a surgery where their breasts are removed or modified in a way that gives them a male contour.”

Bowers estimates that the vast majority — around 90 percent — of female-to-male patients opt to get the chest surgery.

“And then some of the other surgeries they may choose may be a hysterectomy, and that might be more along the lines of like 50-to-50,” Bowers, who performs more than 200 gender-related surgeries a year at her clinic in Trinidad, Colo., said. “And then even less commonly, genital surgery of some form is done.”

One procedure is phalloplasty, which involves the creation of a “sizable but largely non-functional” phallus, Bowers said.

“Some people also choose to have testicles implanted. Some choose to remove a part of the vagina, called a vaginectomy, and then close the opening. But we’re seeing some people retain those parts and even use them for sexual gratification.”

The bottom-line, Bowers said, is that it’s all about personal choice.

“Like anything, there’s diversity in choices and in how people choose to express their gender,” she said. “So again, this is a choice. Some people want the vagina gone… they want testicles and they want a penis.”

In addition to phalloplasty, there’s an alternative procedure called a metoidioplasty.

“That’s where the clitoris is released and it grows in response to testosterone,” she said. “In essence, it becomes a small penis.”

Formerly called Chastity, Bono has called the gender change "the best decision I've ever made."

A hearing on the petition is scheduled for May 6 in Santa Monica, Calif.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Click here to read more from and see a copy of court documents.

RELATED: Changing Genders: An Interview With the World's Leading Sex Change Surgeon.