All about Chella Man – his transition and his girlfriend

Chella Man is an American YouTuber and activist famous for showcasing his gender transformation on YouTube. Man launched his YouTube channel so he could tell the story of a deaf, genderqueer, trans-masculine, half-Chinese, and half-Jewish young adult looking to find comfort in his identity.

Man’s story attracted millions of views and drew the attention of media houses. Hollywood also took notice as Chella landed the role of mute superhero Jericho in the second season of Titans. The on-screen appearance gave Man more exposure and a wider audience.

This piece will look at Chella’s hearing, his transition, his role in Titans, and his girlfriend MaryV Benoit.

Chella started losing hearing at age 4 and by his early teens, he was almost profoundly deaf

Chella Man was born on 26th November 1998 to a Jewish mom and a Chinese dad. Man has consistently expressed his pride at being Chinese and Jewish. His Instagram bio contains the letters HK, referencing his Hong Kong heritage, and the Star of David, symbolizing his Jewish roots. On 7th June 2018, he posted a Twitter photo of Chinese and Jewish symbols tied around his neck. He captioned the post:

“Keeping my cultures around my neck at all times. I am half-Jewish, half-Chinese. Proud to be Chinese. Proud to be Jewish. Grateful for my family’s acceptance on both sides.”

Man was assigned female at birth and grew up in a small town in Central Pennsylvania. Before his struggles with gender dysphoria started, he first had to deal with rapidly deteriorating hearing. Man started losing hearing due to an undiagnosed condition at age 4. Doctors advised him that he would eventually lose all of his hearing.

By his early teens, Chella was almost profoundly deaf. He relied heavily on reading people’s lips to interpret sentences. Man eventually decided to get cochlear implants to help his hearing. He was 14 when he got his first implant and sixteen when he got the second one.

Cochlear implants don’t completely restore one’s hearing, but Man is comfortable with the level of hearing his implants have given him. “I consider mine to be successful due to my adequate comprehension of sound and ability to carry on a conversation,” he writes in an article on Them.

Chella admits that he faces more struggle compared to people with normal hearing, but he has an advantage that others don’t – he can switch his hearing on and off as he pleases. Chella writes on them that he feels with his other senses by switching off the implant’s external processors. He continues:

“I enjoy walking through the bustling and often chaotic Times Square, engulfed in complete silence. I sit in coffee shops for hours at a time, watching New Yorkers run around me – I hear nothing; I see everything. I can feel the vibrations of footsteps as someone approaches, or notice them through my increased range of sight. I find comfort in silence; I am thankful to have the choice to experience the sound behind the vibrations.”

Chella documented his transition on YouTube to inspire people struggling with gender dysphoria

Man told Teen Vogue that he did not consider himself beautiful growing up in ‘narrow-minded Central Pennsylvania.’ Since childhood, Man felt that his gender identity disconnected from the sex assigned at birth, a distress known as gender dysphoria.

At puberty, he tried to press down on his chest in a futile attempt to stop his breasts from growing. He presented himself as masculine and preferred to shop in the boy’s section. However, when his mom asked him whether he wanted to be a boy, he responded with a resounding no. At age 18, however, he gave in.

Chella discovered the word genderqueer, which describes a gender identity that is neither male nor female. He came out as genderqueer, and on the advice of peers, adopted they/them pronouns. However, he felt disconnected again. He explained in an article with Them:

“I felt cornered yet again. This discomfort sparked another moment of clarity. My gender identity does NOT dictate what terminology or pronouns I prefer. Although I do identify as genderqueer, I do not connect with they/them pronouns. I connect with he/him and being referred to as boy.”

After concluding that he felt comfortable identifying as a boy, Chella set out to alter his appearance to match his gender identity. He started taking regular doses of testosterone and sharing his progress on YouTube. He writes on Them that he never imagined that his journey would command such high viewership numbers. He continues:

“Even so, who I am at my core has not changed. My soul encases the same morals, ambitions, emotions, and love, just as it did with hormones. Testosterone simply enabled me to feel my body as a home.”

Acceptance from the outside world didn’t matter much to Chella, but he needed to feel accepted by his father. He wanted his dad to refer to him as his son rather than his daughter, so he asked him to do that. Man’s dad showed no hesitation in approving his son’s request. Chella wrote him a letter thanking him for his ‘respect, support, and unconditional love.’ In response, Chella’s dad wrote:

“Parents who do not accept their child’s gender identity are simply denying their child true happiness and jeopardizing a lifetime connection with their child. This would be a regrettable life-moment for any parent, and I am happy you advocate to positively impact the lives of people who are in similar situations.”

Chella’s girlfriend MaryV Benoit helped Chella through his transformation and is a huge contributor to his work

Chella and MaryV Benoit met at a campus party close to five years ago. Man thought that Chella was the coolest person at the party so he set out to interact with her. By the end of the night, Man wanted to go out on a date with MaryV, so he asked her whether she was willing to hang out.

MaryV accepted, but when she didn’t consider the hang out to be a date. Chella, on the other hand, thought it was the couple’s first date. Despite the confusion, the couple eventually found a connection and started a relationship.

Benoit was influential in helping Chella transition. She helped him with hormonal treatments and was there for him as he recovered from his surgery. On 11th February 2021, Chella posted a series of Instagram photos of his favorite moments with MaryV. One of the photos showed Benoit sat on Chella’s hospital bed as Chella rested after his surgery. He captioned the post:

“The heaviest love of my life. 4 years 4 months today. Still get butterflies. Still head over heels. I love you forever, MaryV.”

In December 2019, MaryV and Chella appeared on The Skin Deep to talk about their relationship. They agreed that Man’s hormonal treatment and surgery helped their relationship as Man finally felt comfortable with his body. MaryV explained:

“I think you at this point now are looking in the mirror now and are seeing the person that you imagined your whole life and we talked about that when you first started T and when you got top surgery. I think that really hit me hard. Now your body is built and made the way you wanted it to be. I think it’s like really, really sexy and really powerful. Also, watching you act is really sexy!”

Like Chella, MaryV is an artist, but she focuses more on photography. Her Instagram page is filled with some of her most iconic and influential snaps. Through photography, Benoit helps Man tell his story. At the end of one of his articles for Them, Chella wrote the following in appreciation of MaryV:

“MaryV Benoit, the most pure individual I know. You are the source of such light and clean love to me. If not for you, these images would not have existed.”

Man resonated with his dumb character in Titans and compares him to Anne Frank

Chella announced that he’d landed the role of Jericho in season 2 of Titans via a mid-March 2019 Instagram post. Jericho lost his ability to speak after assassins severed his vocal cords. His superpower is that he can possess people based on eye contact. After possessing someone, he uses them as a medium to convey his ideas.

“It is a dream come true,” Man told Out Magazine. Man and Chella share several physical similarities, but it was Jericho’s ability to see good in people that really struck a chord with Man. Chella told NewNowNext that Jericho reminded him of Anne Frank. He continued:

“In spite of everything, she [Anne Frank] still believed people are good at heart. I feel I do that to a point in my own life. Jericho is also extremely sweet and sensitive, and I really resonate with that as well. He also identifies as bisexual, and I identify as pansexual. We found a way to slip that in [this episode] very briefly.”

Chella immersed himself in the character so much that he hurt his hands during a scene where he had to portray an angry and upset Jericho. “I was signing so intensely I was scratching my hand, and I really lost myself,” he said.

Man is impressed with the steps taken to increase diversity in the acting industry, but he believes that more can be done. He told NewNowNext that it would help a lot if casting directors committed to offering disabled roles to people with real-life disabilities. He explained:

“We struggle so much to get roles and jobs in general, so when a deaf or hard-of-hearing role goes to someone who has the privilege to get other roles more easily, it’s unfair and just perpetuates this lack of representation in the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. I think it’s very important that these kinds of roles go to people [who’ve actually experienced it].

Chella’s goal is to promote diversity in the art and entertainment industry

As a young, deaf, queer, Jewish, Asian, and transgender person, Chella perfectly defines intersectionality. His overlapping social identities leave him vulnerable to systemic oppression and discrimination, but he has overcome them to be successful in the art and entertainment industries.

Chella has landed a television role in the DC Universe and is a model signed to IMG. He is also working on art and plans to launch a clothing line. “One of my current dreams is creating a clothing line plastered with sketches, photographs, and quotes focusing on my various identities and how they have shaped the man I am today,” he told Teen Vogue

However, Chella understands that not everybody is as lucky as him. It is Chella’s goal to fight discrimination that minority groups experience. He wants to create a better world and be a role model for the queer, deaf kid growing up in a conservative town. Man told Teen Vogue:

“Luckily, today’s modern age of technology is perfect for creating diversity. I have been able to utilize social media platforms to virtually share my gender journey and individuality without being limited by physical boundaries. My hope is for this visibility to provide hope and motivation towards all who can see bits of themselves in my journey.”