By Brian Prowse-Gany
What defines gender? Is it biology, the heart and mind, or some combination of both? As the debate surrounding transgender children swirls, one girl is sharing her personal story in the hope that she can help others.
Jazz Jennings was born a boy, but started to show leanings toward a feminine side at only 15 months old. By age 2, Jazz started to verbalize her feelings that “she was a girl,” and by 5 she was one of the youngest people ever to be diagnosed with gender dysphoria ― a persistent unease with the characteristics of one’s gender, accompanied by a strong identification with the opposite gender.
After the diagnosis, Jazz’s incredibly supportive family decided to embrace her inner feelings and allowed her to start transitioning from male to female while she was only in kindergarten. Although she was teased on occasion, Jazz maintained her outgoing personality and never let anyone stand in the way of her confidence about her gender identity.
Now, at 14, Jazz has co-authored an illustrated memoir aimed at children called “I Am Jazz.” The book chronicles the early years of Jazz’s life, from her diagnosis to her struggles at school, and it’s not just for kids in the LGBTQ community but for anyone who feels like they don’t fit in.
As the country struggles with how to accommodate transgender students in the public school system, Jazz continues to be an important advocate for young people with gender dysphoria as she tries to facilitate fair treatment for other children in her situation.