The Life & Times of Jazz Jennings

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jazz jennings

Jazz Jennings is a 15-year-old spokesmodel, LGBTQ rights activist, author and transgender teen activist. She is also a YouTube and television personality. Jazz has her own docu-series: Her series allows viewers to follow her as she lives her life as a transgender teen and strives to help other transgender children. Viewers witness the struggles and triumphs Jazz and her family experience: “I am Jazz,” which airs Wednesdays at 10/9C, on The Learning Channel (TLC). Jazz helped create an autobiographical picture book that explains what it is like to have a girl’s brain in a boy’s body. Her book, “I’m Jazz,” also addresses the initial struggles she experienced before her family came to understand it all (proceeds from her book are donated to TransKids Purple Rainbow Foundation).

Jazz Always Knew She Was a Female Trapped in a Male Body

Jazz states that from the time she began forming coherent thoughts, she knew she was a girl that was trapped inside a boy’s body. Jazz also says that she was never confused about who she is, her only confusion stemmed from why others could not see that something was wrong. Initially, her family believed that her interest in girly things was a normal developmental phase for a little boy. Jazz remembers how she felt before she was able to speak, as well as the actions she took to express her gender: For example, shortly after she began to walk, Jazz learned how to unsnap her onesie; thus, turning it into a dress.

Bath Time Led to Frustration

It is not an uncommon practice for small children of both genders to take baths together: As a small child, Jazz took baths with her brothers and her sister. She recalls wishing she could take a sponge and simply wipe her penis off. Jazz imagined that once her penis was gone, she would find a ‘gagina’ behind it, like what her mom and sister had. At this time, she considered her penis a strange growth that looked as if it did not belong.

Jazz Finds Her Voice

Once Jazz finally started talking, as her mom began dressing her (in boys’ attire) she would say “dwess like Awee.” While her mother believed Jazz was attempting to display her independence by exclaiming she could dress herself, the reality was that Jazz was requesting that her mother clothes her in a dress just like her older sister, Ari.

Home Attire vs. Public Attire

At home, Jazz could wear nearly anything she wanted: She stole her sister’s oversized purple and pink t-shirts. Jazz happily wobbled around the kitchen wearing feather covered dress-up heels. She states that she began wearing these heels while she was still in diapers. Although Jazz was permitted to wear these girly items around the house, her mom dressed her in boys’ clothes whenever they left the house. She recalls screaming and crying as she was dragged to the car, Jazz states that she did not just ‘like’ girly clothing, she felt humiliated and ashamed if she wore anything else. Jazz says that she had difficulty understanding why her loving and caring parents would force her to go through such torture. As her vocabulary grew, so did her ability to verbalize the way she felt. When her mom or dad would say something like “Good boy,” she corrected them immediately saying “No. Good girl.”

The Good Fairy Helps Make Jazz’s Dream Come True

When Jazz was about 2-years-old, after playing with her sister’s dolls, dressing them up and envying the smooth area between their legs, Jazz fell asleep on Ari’s bed; however, she was unaware that she was actually sleeping. Jazz states that a woman wearing a blue gown floats into Ari’s room. She knew this was a fairy because she was immersed in glowing light, had wings and a magic wand. Jazz cannot remember the exact words that the fairy used, or even if the fairy spoke out loud, but Jazz knew why the fairy was there. When Jazz awakened, she was ecstatic: She ran downstairs to her mother and asked when the good fairy was going to come and turn her penis into a vagina. Jazz’s mom states that this was a turning point for her: This was the first time Jeanette realized that what her ‘son’ was experiencing was probably more than just a phase.

Today, Jazz’s family and friends accept her for who she is: Her brothers readily exclaim that she is definitely ‘all girl.’ Jazz and her family continue working together to help people understand the importance of allowing a transgender child to accept himself/herself by providing the support he or she needs to live a happy, fulfilling life.

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