We talk TLC’s I Am Jazz with transgender teen activist Jazz Jennings!

all-that-jazz-jazz-jennings Lori Acken

When Jazz Jennings was 6 years old, she showed Barbara Walters and a 20/20 crew her ultra-girlie room, then warbled a bit of her favorite song, “In My Own Little Corner” from Cinderella: “In my own little corner, in my own little chair, I can be whatever I want to be. On the wings of my fancy, I can fly anywhere, and the world will open its arms to me.”

It was a poignant moment for reasons well beyond the charming sight of a pretty little girl singing a princess song to her famous guest — because Jazz Jennings was born an anatomical boy, but knew from the time she understood the difference between genders that she is a girl. And from that time on, she’s been on a mission to make the world open its arms to her and to the rest of the transgender community, exactly as they are.

Determined to help that mission, Jazz’s parents, Greg and Jeanette Jennings, quickly enlisted a team of specialists who diagnosed Jazz with gender dysphoria and are helping her navigate the path to adulthood in a culture that can be cruelly narrow-minded. And Jazz? Jazz has shown the world a beautifully feminine face, sparkling personality and empathetic soul that make her a natural and energetic spokesperson for the transgender community, even at her tender age.

“Sometimes it is overwhelming when so many people look up to you and you have a lot riding on your back,” the now 14-year-old admits, “but then I realize this isn’t just about me. It’s about my message and it’s about the community all together. We’re working together, hand in hand, and we’ll do this together and accomplish our goals of overall love, acceptance and tolerance.”

But Jazz also wants her fans — especially other transgender kids — to know that most days her life is a typical teen mix of school, friends, sports, crushes and hanging out with her mom, dad and three siblings. And sometimes getting completely bummed out. Beginning this month, she’ll get the chance, starring with her close-knit clan in the new TLC reality series I Am Jazz.

“When I’m out there speaking, I really don’t display my vulnerable emotions because I want people to think of me as strong and a role model,” says Jazz, who has her own popular YouTube channel on which she talks candidly about her life and shows off her considerable creative flair. “I think that once they see that I also have my moments when I cry, they might admire me as a person more because they will realize that I’m human and that I make mistakes, too.”

But mostly she’s a whole lot of fun, says her proud mom Jeanette.

jazz-jennings-all-that-jazz“When she’s speaking, she’s very serious. People think of her as this serious, focused child who just makes speeches and does great in interviews,” Jeanette says, “but that’s just a small part of who Jazz is. I think people will be surprised to see just how goofy she is. Jazz is a full-blown, goofy, big-personality person and that will come across in the show.” Along with the fact that the little girl who has always known exactly who she is, is growing up quickly.

“I want everyone to understand that this is who I am,” says Jazz, who is now taking testosterone blockers and considering what the future holds in terms of a full transition. “It’s not a choice; it’s just the person that I am on the inside. I think an overall message of the show at first is me transitioning from a boy to a girl and then a girl transitioning into a woman. I’m really excited for people to follow along that journey with me as I approach womanhood.” With a proudly supportive family and a growing network of fans from all walks of life.

“She is a natural-born leader,” says Jeanette. “She is a natural-born speaker. We didn’t know that when she was only 6 years old, but she’s evolved into this wonderful young lady who is a spokesperson for all transgender youth. As long as she wants to keep being an advocate, we’re going to be right there by her side.”

jazz-jennings-tlc-jennings-family

I Am Jazz premieres Wednesday, July 15 on TLC.

Photos courtesy of the Jennings family

11 Comments

  1. Chloe’s message below translated into 4 simple sentences;

    1) if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, it’s a duck

    2) if it has a penis and a pair of testicles, it’s a male

    3) if it has a vagina, ovaries, a uterus and breasts, it’s a female

    4) you can out all the lipstick on a pig, as much as you want, it’s still a pig.

    Please pray for this family, they need help.

    • Jazz I commend your bravery for telling your life’s story. You are a beautiful young lady. Keep your head high n enjoy lifes gifts. You…we all deserve peace and happensess through our journey of life. .may GOD bless you jazz.

  2. Reflection on the show ‘I am Jazz’
    First and foremost, I want to say, that I neither condone nor in any way tolerate violence against individuals who identify as ‘trans’. This has nothing to do with that; this presents only the need to advocate for the truth.
    I viewed an episode of the TLC program ‘I am Jazz’, on 8/27/15 at 10:00PM, and it didn’t escape my notice, that to entertain Jazz’s perception of his/her self, everyone else must then be made a liar.
    I have no issue with jazz fashioning and presenting his/herself as he/she wants to be seen and accepted. I however, see an obstacle, a crinkle in the smooth exterior, that cannot be overlooked, and that, is something called the ‘truth’.
    Jazz can use hormone blockers, then be stabilized on hormones, undergo surgery, fashion him/herself anyway he/she sees fit at the age of eighteen, as long as he/she can independently finance it. Those things are not my concern; my concern centers on, the disturbing fact that shows a compromising of the truth. In the aforementioned episode, Jazz rightfully pointed out when he was in the company of girlfriends, and the conversation naturally gravitated towards the interest of the young women’s coming of age, with such things as the advent of their periods, that he/she had to remind them, that he/she does not have such an experience.
    It is interesting to wonder, why is the truth entertained sometimes and completely dismissed at others. We all have preferences as human beings. This is a perfect Segway to note, that I in no way factor into this equation individuals who identify as Gay. I consider their acknowledgment of their preference as being quite truthful and respect and support it. What remains challenging with the ‘trans issue’ is that it continuously seems to want to rival & compromise the truth.
    Now, I can refer to Jazz as a ‘she’, ‘her’, whatever it pleases Jazz to be called, but to go from honoring such specified terms, which an individual has given themselves, to referring or seeing that individual as their desired object, that is leaps & bounds for me, and it would convert me into a liar.
    The fact is, there are birth certificates and as long as eggs and sperms constitute beginnings, there is a biological Mother and biological father. The names on the birth certificates can be altered, but the bio facts should not be.
    I remember, many years ago, as a kid, Oprah Winfrey, touting the promotion of an episode she planned to air, an episode she said that would show the ‘First Man to Give Birth’. Now, as a curious youngster, I am wondering naturally, what is this about? And of course, asking all the ordinary questions, while teasing my mind to find a reasonable, rational, realistic explanation. I wondered, is it some phenomenon of an unborn twin, to which they are referring. Is it maybe some foreign object that needs to be extracted? Is it some new experiment being display? Well, I, like everyone else who’d been exposed to the sensational advertising, was glued to the TV to learn the truth.
    I was so angry, as to be enraged, not only by the program as it unfolded, but by Oprah’s, deliberate deception. I could hardly believe that someone of her caliber, who I imagine could be trusted, could promote such a lie to the public. I lost respect for her. It was obvious to me, that ratings and money, trumped the truth.
    Oprah’s well publicized episode, turned out to be nothing more, than what anyone would naturally have known, were the truth disclosed in the first place. It was a ‘Trans person’ who with hormones, fashioned themselves to appear as a man, before she/he decided she/he wanted to carry a child. The, hormones were diminished and nature was permitted to take its course. In other words, simply put, it was a woman, as we know, having a baby.
    Any manipulation of such facts as who the biological mother is of a child is an outrage. If she/he wants to go on to have the child refer to her/him as ‘Pa’, well, she/he can do that, but that birth certificate should state the name of biological mother of that child.
    Jazz’s mother points out and I absolutely agree, that full disclosure, is the best policy, when living a ‘trans’ life. It is extremely important, that any Trans person, be fully honest with anyone, they choose to date or be in anyway intimate with.
    Jazz is at that age, where insecurity reigns. Many young people, who are trying to get acquainted with themselves, both internally and externally, develop a measure of confidence in their own skins, from their peer relationships and the pressure that comes with that, and they may have a particularly hard time relating to ‘Jazz’.
    All I am saying, it’s fine to express yourself the way you see fit, however, what must be remembered and acknowledged, is that just because you present as one thing, does not make you that thing.
    I will present a few examples, which I believe draws some parallels. What if a black individual declare themselves to be white, they desire to fashion themselves into what they say they are. Maybe they want a chemical peel to lighten their skin, the hair to be bleached and straightened and the eyes to be tinted blue, or maybe a pair of contacts would work. Also, vice versa, there is an old book called ‘Black like Me’, where a white man, fashioned himself to appear as a black man, to experience what life was like for people of color in the South.
    I once watched a documentary, where a man underwent a sex change operation, only to later declare, that he was never a ‘trans woman’ as he imagined himself to be, but instead a gay man. Well, of course, there is no way to reverse that. What’s done is done.
    I say all this, to return to the same point, anyone can fashion themselves into anything they want to be, especially with the advancements of technology. Fashioning yourself however and being the real deal are very distinct and different things. I can fashion myself to appear as Elvis Presley, but I can’t be Elvis Presley.
    My position is not based on any religious ideology or any remote, unproven theory. This is up close and impregnated with obvious evidence.
    Throughout history, the truth has often been made a lonely, isolated thing, if not an outright enemy, but it remains there for us to recognize, acknowledge and defend, and if we fail in our mission to do these things, we will inevitably pay the consequences.
    – We may as a society, be called upon to change the sex of young children.
    – We may as a society, end up being forced to finance such operations.
    – We may as a society, see ‘trans women’ infiltrate girls’/women’s sports (Mind you, I don’t believe we’ll see too many ‘trans males’ entering male sports).
    – We will see even more, as many Universities are already forced to accommodate such individuals, ‘trans women’, even ‘trans men’ being enrolled in all women’s Universities.
    – We will see compromised security with regards to our respective rest rooms.
    – We may even see a rivalry of ‘trans women with women, for specific types of health care.
    This is in no way stated to generate paranoia, this is just a projection of the inevitable concerns, many of which have already occurred or are on the horizon.
    Jazz is a young person, who I believe will become fodder for many adults with their own agendas. If this peace is lengthy, it is only because of the many points I feel are necessary to make and convey to all, including Jazz. Hairstyles, Clothing, Jewelry, Perfumes, various material things, are all social constructs, they are not biology. There are women in this world, that have never worn makeup, don a dress or hairdo, used any kind of bodily adornment, and still there are women. It is what they are and the same is true with regards to men.
    I do wish Jazz, the best of luck, but I must also leave the message, that it is extremely important, that we keep it real. ‘Trans’ individuals should always be prefixed with that word ‘trans’ to differentiate them from individuals born males and females. Truth, has been collateral damage for a long time, we should not allow it to be a casualty.

  3. Here is a shout out to Alma. Alma is a voice of reason in an insane world full of people who more longer seek the truth but fall under Satan’s spell.

  4. I am so sorry that these parents have done this to this child. What did they want? The attention it seems to me. My God don’t make mistakes! A person with a penis is a MALE! I have 3 grandsons and at some point of time all three of them have said at one time or another that they are a girl. It’s a kid thing. My friends have said their sons did the same thing. But boy these attention hounds this kid has as parents took a innocent statement made by a baby and ruined this child’s life with it. And that makes me sicker then Bruce Jenner with his hidious looking face and body claiming to be a her. What’s wrong with this world when people think this is OK. Thank God most people know it’s wrong. And that don’t make us homophobic. It makes us sane reasonable humans that understand what God’s word say’s about these weirdo’s. I’m glad none of my grandbabies are around any of these freaks going to school. Because I would spend my life fighting it. If it’s his parents right to let him grow up to be a freak, it’s everyone else’s to not have their children exposed to it. Maybe when he gets grown he’ll see the error of his way’s and make it right. Maybe not in which case he can be a freak all his life. I feel bad for sounding so harsh about a little boy BUT his parents have left people no choice by trying to force his freakness on everybody else. Hey Jazz and Bruce, you have a penis and balls and that makes you a he not a she! And your body makes tes not est! Get a life as the boy you were born to be. Because this makes people sick!

  5. Ok, that’s great Emil. Whatever HE is doing is ok because HE isn’t hurting anybody. Sorry Emil but you are dead wrong and your weak logic is typical of what most brainwashed people believe today.

    Sorry Emil but I don’t agree with your weak moral logic that whatever HE does is ok because HE is not hurting anybody. To use your logic Emil, then as long as someone is not hurting someone, then ANYTHING they do is ok. Sorry Emil but your logic is obviously not well thought out.

    God made this person a male. God does not make mistakes. Please pray for this family that they see the errors of their ways and that this young man starts to act like one.

  6. Dana I totally agree with you. God made this person a male. God does not make mistakes. These parents are making a HUGE mistake for which they will have to answer to God.

    These parents should be horsewhipped.

    • It’s her life and she could do whatever she wants no one’s telling you what to do in your life leave her alone she’s not hurting anybody she has enough problems as it is she doesn’t need to hear you’re mouth

  7. Mom if your going to raise your little boy into a young lady you need to mold her like a young lady! Teach her girl manners especially how to sit with her legs crossed not wide open on the tv! May God have mercy on your soul! You made that little boy a girl you need help mom!

    • Who are you to tell them what to do its her life not yours and don’t talk about manners cuz you have none

      • Dana and Larry sound pretty smart with their comments to me. You are the one who sounds like you have issues. What these parents have done to this little boy should be criminal! And yes he has a penis so he is a boy!

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About Lori Acken 1195 Articles
Lori just hasn't been the same since "thirtysomething" and "Northern Exposure" went off the air.