Jazz Jennings is to teens what Caitlyn Jenner is to adults. The transgender teen sensation and the former Olympic decathlon are both raising awareness of how transgender folks are perceived and treated in today’s society.
While Caitlyn Jenner has her I Am Cait show on E!, Jazz Jennings has I Am Jazz on TLC. Jazz Jennings stars in the 11-episode docuseries that shows how she deals with friends, dating and family.
Fourteen-year-old Jazz Jennings was designated male at birth but was diagnosed with gender dysphoria at age five. Her transition has been in the public eye since 2007 and her book I Am Jazz has put her experiences growing up trans out to millions of readers.
The new show is giving Jazz the opportunity to let even more people know the difficult time transgender folks have.
“Being transgender has completely turned boys off from liking me,” Jennings says. “This one time this really cute boy liked me, and then once he found out I was transgender he started calling me ‘chick with a d—‘ behind my back.”
I just watched @JazzJennings__ story and couldn't believe that people could be mean to her. She's just like every one else! Stay positive!
— Grayson Hunter Goss (@GraysonHunterG) July 17, 2015
Jazz Jennings also addresses the common objection by some who are uncomfortable with gender identity issues that being trans is a choice.
“People think this was a choice, that one day I woke up and was like, ‘I’m a girl,’ but no – it’s just the way I was born. I’ve always been a girl.”
“Everyone always thinks it’s about the surgery, what’s between your legs, but … this is about what’s between your ears – and being transgender is the process of learning to love yourself and accept your difference. People have to understand that it’s not just a medical journey.”
“At age 2, I knew I was a girl, and I really just kept pushing that thought forward to my parents.”
The parallel’s between herself and Caitlyn Jenner is not lost on Jazz Jennings. She looks up to the older woman as inspiration.
“She’s just so brave and courageous to come out with the public eye looking upon her,” Jennings says of Jenner. “I think people are starting to open up their minds when it comes to accepting us for who we are, so I’m just so proud of her for being such a role model.”
I wonder if people would make the same nasty comments to 14 year old Jazz Jennings as they did to Caitlyn Jenner.
— 24 Days (@carameleyedgirl) July 22, 2015