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