Photo: Associated Press
In 1995, Chastity came out to the world as a lesbian. "When I was 13 and I'm starting to go through puberty and I'm starting to have feelings of attractions to other women, I just made the obvious connection that I must be a lesbian," he says. "And that identity worked for a little while. It made me feel better."
Still, Chaz says there was a nagging feeling that he never quite fit in. "I went through periods of happiness, but life was just always so much more difficult," he says. "The truth is, in a lot of ways I didn't realize the extent of how difficult it was until I had something else to compare it to."
Chaz says he had a moment of awakening while watching the movie Boys Don't Cry, about a young woman trying to live as a man. "I think it kind of awoke our culture in a sense," he says. "Probably two years after that was when I started to really figure this out and really examine it."
Chaz says he realized he wasn't a lesbian after all. "I always had this idea that, 'Sure, I wished I was a boy and felt more like a boy and all of that.' But I wasn't, so I would deal with it. And I for some reason thought there were other lesbians that felt that way and that was just part of that community," he says. "Then I started to realize, no, that isn't what a lesbian is at all. That's what being transgender is."
Still, Chaz says he wasn't ready to act. "I was too afraid to do anything about it," he says. "And that was really when a lot of the difficulty for me began."