Monday, August 10, 2015

I Am Jazz

The statistics are staggering.

According to the Youth Suicide Prevention Program, approximately half of transgender youth will have made at least one suicide attempt by their twentieth birthday.

Jazz Jennings, star of TLC’s I Am Jazz.

That’s why it is so heartening to see an honest portrayal of the struggles of transgender youth on, of all places, TLC. TLC has gotten a bad reputation due to its exploitation of children, such as the now-defunct Toddlers and Tiaras, the hot mess that was Here Comes Honey, Boo Boo, and the recent sex abuse scandals involving both the Boo Boo clan and  the Duggar family. TLC has obviously decided to class up their act, and while we cannot really expect The Learning Channel  to actually be, you know, about learning, it’s good that they have finally decided to create a show about a nice, normal, healthy family.

Enter I Am Jazz.

Like Caitlyn Jenner, Jazz Jennings has several advantages. One, her family is incredibly supportive. Mother Jennings is a tireless advocate for her daughter, and is basically a mama grizzly. The Jennings family was involved in a two-year lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation over the federation’s refusal to allow Jazz to play on a girls’ soccer team.  Jazz’s father, older twin brothers, college-age sister, and adorable grandparents all support Jazz’s transition.

Sister Knows Best

Secondly, the show makes it clear that although Jazz is bullied by certain individuals at school, she has a strong group of female friends who accept her and form the core group of her social life. Thirdly, just by looking at the family home and considering the fact that Jazz has access to excellent health care, I think it is safe to assume that the Jennings family is well-off financially.

Thirdly, although Jazz is suffering through the pains of adolescence, and like any normal 14-year-old is stressing about her looks and her relationships with boys, her awesomely supportive family and her social network are there for her one hundred percent. How many cisgender teens can say that?

That is not even to mention that this girl is drop dead gorgeous.

Genes like this always come in handy.

Jazz has signed a deal to appear in Clean & Clear commercials and has also modeled for the NOH8 campaign.

Having watched both I Am Cait and I Am Jazz, I have a pretty good idea which I prefer, and I prefer I Am Jazz. Although Jazz has been a YouTube celebrity and was featured on talk shows starting at an early age, there is definitely a more authentic quality about I Am Jazz.  I won’t go into Caitlyn Jenner’s obtuse commentary (which I feel she hasn’t taken enough slack for) here but I do think there is less of a circus atmosphere on Jazz. Jazz is a kind and genuine person, and her struggles to be accepted by her peers, her worries about her changing body, and her touching relationship with her family give me the feelz. Anyone who has ever been a teenage girl, or any parent of a teenage girl, can relate to Jazz.

Caitlyn, Imma let you finish, but Jazz Jennings had the best reality show of all time!

I am not closely associated with the transgender community, but here are a couple of personal tips I’ve picked up and that I’d like to share with you:

  1. Sometimes people are born into the wrong body. So what? It happens. Anyone who is transgender has the right to take the necessary steps to correct this, be it clothing, cosmetics, or surgery if they can afford it.
  2. Anyone who isn’t transgender: Why do you need to have an opinion?

I Am Jazz airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on TLC. It is also available on various and sundry streaming services.

No comments: