(NEW YORK) — Chaz Bono wants to take the final step in his transition from female to male and have penile reconstruction, a complex procedure that can be risky.
Born Chastity, the son of ’60s pop icons Sonny and Cher, Bono says he knew from an early age that he was born in the wrong body. Since going public in 2009, he has injected himself with testosterone, grown body hair and surgically removed his breasts.
Now, the Dancing With the Stars contestant has told Rolling Stone magazine that, “within a short while he will finally be able to afford to get himself a penis.”
Bono said that he is saving up for surgery, either the simplest procedure that uses clitoral tissue to build a micro-penis or a full phalloplasty where surgeons take skin from another part of the body and roll it to create a phallus that is attached to the groin.
Medical experts say that less than half of all who are transgender will ever go on to have genital surgery. And those who transition from female to male are even less likely to take that step because it is complicated, expensive and not always successful.
About one-quarter to 1 percent of the population is born transgender, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality. Medical experts say that many know by the age of 6 that their physical gender does not match their identity.
“Most people describe rejecting those feelings and they can get depressed with the sense that they are living a lie,” said Dr. Jeffrey Spiegel, chief of facial plastic surgery at Boston University School of Medicine. “But with therapy and information, they come to see that it is a disorder.”
“For many people, the goal is to transition in a way that they disappear from special scrutiny,” he said. “The goal is to blend in.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio