By Christine Fenno
Updated June 18, 2009 at 11:17 PM EDT

In a new statement to People about Chaz Bono’s sex change, his mother Cher says, “Chaz is embarking on a difficult journey, but one that I will support. I respect the courage it takes to go through this transition in the glare of public scrutiny and although I may not understand I will strive to be understanding. The one thing that will never change is my abiding love for my child.” Chaz, born Chastity Bono, recently turned 40. As for Chaz’s stepmother Mary Bono Mack, who married the late Sonny Bono in 1986, the U.S. Congresswoman (R-California) told People that Chaz “has always been a loving and important part of our family who has supported us all through thick and thin. This is a very difficult decision that Chaz has fully vetted, and over the past decade, has discussed the matter thoroughly and consulted therapists and medical experts. As he moves forward, I will be there to support him and love him every step of the way.”