Chastity "Chaz" BonoNEW YORK – Sonny and Cher’s little girl soon will become their little boy. Chastity Bono, the 1970s singing sensation’s only child, is transitioning from female to male, her publicist announced Thursday.

The process began shortly after Bono’s 40th birthday in March. Bono, who goes by the name Chaz to family and friends, “came out” as a lesbian nearly two decades ago and since then has been a vocal advocate for LGBT rights.

“Chaz, after many years of consideration, has made the courageous decision to honor his true identity,” spokesman Howard Bragman noted in a prepared statement. “He is proud of his decision and grateful for the support and respect that has already been shown by his loved ones.

“It is Chaz’s hope that his choice to transition will open the hearts and minds of the public regarding this issue, just as his coming out did nearly 20 years ago.”

LGBT leaders have hailed Bono’s openness about the decision as a courageous move.

“Coming out as a transgender is an extremely personal decision and one that is never made lightly,” Neil Giuliano, president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, told the New York Daily News. “We look forward to hearing Chaz’s story in his own words in the future.”

According to Us magazine, Bono will undergo sexual-reassignment surgery, although the publicist did not address that portion of the transition. All transsexuals undergo hormone therapy and counseling, but not all choose to undergo surgery.