Transgender Teen Jazz Jennings Will Inspire You Love Yourself Ini Am Jazz
Jazz Jennings is your typical 14-year-old girl. She loves hanging out with her friends, hitting the beach, talking about boys (even though they can be so annoying) and playing soccer. And in her spare time, she's also an advocate for transgender youth everywhere. NBD.
Tonight (July 15), TLC is premiering its new reality series, 'I Am Jazz,' which will document Jazz's journey as she navigates life as a transgender teenager.
'We first wanted to share our story to really make a difference and help other people out there, especially transgender kids who might be struggling,' Jennings told MTV News during an interview. 'Once we saw that we were really making an impact in the transgender community and really opening people's minds as to what it means to be transgender, we realized that we had to continue doing this.'
'People will really be able to see our story in the comfort of our own home and how we deal with not just the fact that I'm transgender,' she added, 'But also how I deal with the fact of being a teenager just going through my life.'
At 14, Jazz is fighting off puberty and medically transitioning her body by taking estrogen and puberty blockers. As if that wasn't hard enough, she's also trying to navigate typical teenage issues, like boys, friend drama and body image.
Jazz is not alone under the microscope. Her supportive family is a huge part of the series, including her two older twin brothers, Griffin and Sander, her older sister and her protective parents.TLC
'Honestly, I didn't have any reservations about the show,' Jazz's mother Jeanette Jennings told MTV News. 'It was something that had been in the back of my mind for a while. I wanted to let people into our world a little bit more because it's really hard to show Jazz and what she's all about in a six-minute segment on the news. You really need to come into our lives and see what it's like to live as a transgender teenager and the ups and downs that Jazz goes through -- and see that she's a fun-loving kid.'
Above all else, 'I Am Jazz' finds joy in the mundane everyday shenanigans of Jazz and her family. We watch, and empathize, as Jazz wonders what high school will be like in the fall.
'There's a little bit of nervousness and anxiety,' Jazz said. 'What if people aren't going to be mature? What if they don't accept me for being transgender? But I know that if I have my friends by my side that I'll be able to conquer anything. If someone judges me without fully understanding my character, then their opinion just isn't worth it to me.'
Always an advocate, Jazz is already looking forward to all of the good she can do in her new school.
'There's a GSA, so I can join that and really make a strong Alliance at the school, in which LGBT youth and allies can join together and really make a difference in our school,' she said. 'I really hope that I can help people understand because if they know that I'm transgender and they see my story on the show, then maybe they'll be more trusting.'TLC
Though 'I Am Jazz' feels less like advocacy and more like a family reality series, Jazz also wants to use her exposure to highlight the everyday issues that transgender people go through that we often take for granted. Something as simple as going to the bathroom can be a humiliating ordeal for a trans person.
'When I was in kindergarten, I was not allowed to use the girls' bathroom,' said Jazz. 'I had to use the nurse's restroom, where kids were often sick and bleeding and vomiting. It was disgusting. And I didn't want to use that nurse's restroom, so I would hold it in -- and I would have accidents. It was terrible. I actually snuck into the girls' restroom, but I got in trouble with the school librarian. I just didn't understand why they wouldn't let me pee in peace!'
'She was banned all of elementary school, through fifth grade,' her mother added.
'I'm so thankful that at my middle school, the administrators let me use the bathroom of my choice,' Jazz concluded. 'I was able to use the girls' locker room and play on the girls' team in sports. That's a great thing to happen, but I know so many transgender kids aren't given that right, and therefore, have to use the bathroom in which they don't identify themselves as. I can't even imagine that.'TLC
Jazz has been a face for the transgender community since 2007, when, at age 6, she appeared as transgender in a '20/20' interview with Barbara Walters. Now, we get to see Jazz for who she really is: a fun-loving teen girl who loves her family and friends.
'I'm that really silly friend that makes everyone laugh, but I'm also the wise friend who teaches my friends about life and the importance of being kind to everyone and respecting everyone for their differences,' she said. 'I'm all about love and happiness. I just want to have fun with my friends and I want to live each moment to the fullest.'
'I got this fortune cookie once,' Jazz added. 'It said, 'You can't have a great friend unless you are one.' Or something like that.'