There's no denying that Chaz Bono has had an incredible year. Not only did the LGBT activist and author star on Season 13 of ABC's hit "Dancing With the Stars" -- and spark subsequent backlash for being the first transgender person to do so -- but he was also awarded the Hero Award at the 2011 GLSEN Respect Awards and named one of Out magazine's 100 LGBT people of the year. Now Chaz has another accomplishment to add to his list before ringing in the new year: He's engaged.
In a short interview with The Huffington Post, Chaz opened up about letting the cameras back into his home, finding the courage to transition and, of course, his new-found 'Dancing With the Stars' friends. And for the record, he's still good friends with 'DWTS' pro partner Lacey Schwimmer, even though the two had as rather rocky on-screen relationship.
Why did you want to film this period of your life, and what was the idea behind it?
I think it’s important that people see the normal, everyday aspects of life after transition.
What was life like after your transition compared to before?
Easy, comfortable, effortless. I didn’t realize how difficult my life had been until I had something to compare it to. I’m the happiest I’ve been in my life after transition.
What was the hardest part about your transition?
Finding the courage to do it was the hardest part. Once I found the courage to transition it was easy.
Do you feel content? Is this your happily ever after, or are there still plans to go further in your transition?
I’m very happy and if I was never to do anything else I’d be very happy. But at some point I would like to do the bottom surgery.
I have to ask, what was it like growing up knowing that you felt differently on the inside?
It was very difficult. It’s very confusing to know there’s something different about you then anyone else and not knowing what it is.
When did you realize that you were a man?
I felt like a boy as far back as I have memory.
What was high school like for you? Were you ever bullied?
High school was fine for me. I went to performing arts high school in New York, so it was very open minded and accepting. I was never bullied in school.
I think LGBT -- and especially transgender -- youth look up to you as a role model. What would you tell kids who are bullied for being different?
Hang in there and know that it gets so much better once you graduate high school.
How did you handle the response from signing on to "DWTS"? On one hand it made you vulnerable to people who don’t understand, but on the other hand, for many LGBT people, you were an inspiration to them.
I got support from so many people, not just the LGBT community -- even though they were really great. I've learned to ignore the negative and really focus on the positive responses.
You're still friends with Nancy Grace. How did that develop? And are you still close with Lacey?
I became close to Nancy, David, JR, Lacey…I mean we all became really close. When you spend that much time together you hope that friendships will develop.
"Being Chaz" also took viewers back to the fallout from the announcement that Chaz would be joining Season 13 of "Dancing With the Stars." In the clip below, his fiancee, Jennifer, is shocked and horrified at some of the comments Chaz received via Twitter, including death threats.
Did you watch 'Being Chaz'? I did. I found the scenes between him and his girlfriend really uncomfortable because all of the tension.