Being Jazz: My Life As a (Transgender) Teen by Jazz Jennings

I had no idea who Jazz Jennings is, but apparently she’s pretty famous. She’s well-known on her YouTube channel and she does activist work speaking out for LGBTQ rights, and she has a reality show on TLC called I Am Jazz. I’m kind of surprised I hadn’t heard of her before reading her book, but this was probably a good introduction anyways. I stumbled upon it on Audible and went with it because A) I’ve been wanting to read some books by or about transgender people and B) it was only 4 hours (lame reason, I know, but still).

So Jazz was born as a boy but growing up it was clear to her, and most of her family, that she was really a girl inside. At the age of 4 she was diagnosed with gender identity disorder, and her parents slowly started allowing her to make the switch to living her life as a girl – first at home, and then publicly. Her mom, realizing that there didn’t seem to be any resources to help her manage having a gender dysphoric child, took up the mantle and started reaching out and building those resources for other families with transgender children, and Jazz talks a lot about how she’s grown up with a family that loves, understands, and supports her.

I feel like I learned a lot from Jazz’s memoir – for instance, the terms “gender identity disorder” and “gender dysphoric”, and a bit about the hormone treatment options for transgender youth. I still have a lot to learn, obviously, but this was a good jumping off point. The audiobook was fantastic – it was like listening to a teenage girl chat with you for four hours about her life, and that was awesome. She also told a lot of funny horror stories involving throwing up and peeing her pants, and she talks about the less glamorous aspects of being on a reality TV show, like never being able to actually eat while on camera because chewing makes too much noise. Jazz makes it a point to talk about how if you want to know more about being transgender, do the research yourself instead of putting a transgender person on the spot. She has a great list of resources in her book (in the PDF, if you choose the Audible version). 

The one thing I can say is that Jazz is very young. Her memoir is full of positivity, and from the sounds of it her family really has done a fantastic job of advocating for her in school, sports, media, etc. But her youth makes me wonder a little bit if she felt the need to put a bit of a happier sheen on some things, and I’ll be really interested to see another memoir from her when she’s in her 30’s.

Sarah Says: 4 stars, totally worth the read

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3 comments

  1. I’ve watched few episodes of her reality show and it seems to be that in this new season they are touching a little bit on starting high school which I think was more difficult for her and her struggles with depression. By overall, she really does seem to be a positive person, accepting of who she is and her role as an activist.

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  2. I love this kid. I think she is so incredible. She’s so brave and open and yes, positive. As per the above comment, her new season does touch on her struggles more. Her family is so incredible and supportive and proud of her and I think they are all doing such important work educating people. I don’t think I’ll read the book – it’s probably pretty well covered on the show. But like you, I would be really interested to a follow up book when she’s older.

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  3. I’ve seen commercials for her show so I knew it was a thing but nothing more and I was thinking of reading this cos need more (any) books by/about transgendered people but wasn’t sure how it was. So happy to hear it’s good and I will def need to check it out.

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