It’s Jazz Jennings Birthday And This Is Why We’re Celebrating
At 15 today, Jazz is already changing the world
Today is Jazz Jennings 15th Birthday, and we’re celebrating because in those 15 years she’s already more inspiring and has achieved more than most of us in our whole lives.
Born male, Jazz knew from as young as 16 months that she was female. At just 5 years old she appeared on Barbara Walters’ American TV show ‘20/20’ identifying as transgender and began her incredible journey to be the inspirational YouTuber, LGBTQ rights activist, transgender spokesperson and generally wonderful girl she is today.
To celebrate, here’s everything we love about Jazz Jennings:
She’s 100% confident of who she is
It’s one of the biggest issues facing the Transgender community (and particularly within young people). Those who identify as transgender are often dismissed as being ‘confused’ or as going through a ‘phase’. Jazz knows this isn't the case, and isn’t afraid to speak up.
From 5 years old, Jazz was willing to get vocal on national television about her identity and her cause. It's best summed up in her own words: "Do I look like I have an illness? Do I look like I have a problem? Being transgender is not a problem. It is not an illness. It's just who you are."
She’s making a big splash for transgender and LGBTQ rights
Jazz has been given widespread recognition for her work as an activist. She was named a Human Rights Campaign Youth Ambassador at the GLADD Awards, she’s had her own float at Gay Pride, she made Time Magazine’s ‘Top 25 Most Influential Teens of 2014’ and she was named in Advocate’s ‘Top 40 Under 40’ (forget under 40, she was under 14!).
Who knows what she’ll have achieved by 16!
She has the most amazing family ever
Some parents might have struggled to accept that their child was born in the wrong body. Not Jazz’s. Her parents took 5-year-old Jazz to a psychiatrist where she was diagnosed with Gender Dysphoria and ever since they have been 100% supportive of who she is.
They’re even happy to go with her to the doctors to get her hormone blockers and discuss future medical options to help her feel like the girl she is on the inside, outside. Her mom still tells her to clean her room and take out the garbage though, can’t win ‘em all.
She has her own TV show
Not content with appearing on a whole bunch of other shows to big up the transgender cause; as of last year Jazz has her own, ‘I Am Jazz’ which documents her life as a transgender teen.
Still in its first season, ‘I Am Jazz’ is already pretty much our fave show, following Jazz as she prepares to enter high school and bringing her own unique sense of humour and personality with her.
She’s breaking ground in pro-transgender children’s books
Jazz’s illustrated children’s book of the same name ‘I Am Jazz’ is basically one-of-a-kind in its simple, child-friendly address of transgender issues.
The book tells Jazz’s story in a way that lets children facing similar issues know they aren’t alone, whist also raising awareness about transgender issues in young people. Check out a preview of the book from her YouTube channel here.
She’s basically an actual mermaid, guys.
There’s a whole host of great stuff on Jazz’s YouTube channel, the best of which is this stunning video of her swimming with a mermaid tail.
A lot of transgender teens identify with mermaids since below the belt they’ve nothing but a tail, no gender issues to worry about here. Also, who doesn’t love mermaids!?
Jazz is no different and takes her passion even further by making and selling mermaid tails (all proceeds go to transgender charities, obvz) as well as making DIY tutorials on her channel.
She’s an awesome soccer player
Jazz spent two years fighting to be allowed to play for her school’s girls’ soccer team, never backing down when people said that she shouldn’t be allowed because of her gender.
Eventually, she convinced the United States Soccer Federation to change their policy and allow transgender girls to play on female soccer teams nationwide. This was at just 11!
She founded her own charity when she was 7
The Transkids Purple Rainbow Foundation was set up in 2007 by Jazz and her awesome parents and is committed to changing society’s view on Gender Dysphoria. It is not a choice, but simply how some children are born.
The charity aids transgender children with everything from education to housing with Jazz as their spokesperson. Check out their incredible work here.
Her views on love are beautiful
Jazz identifies as pansexual and had this to say about her views on relationships: “I mostly like people for their personality; I don’t care if they’re gay, bi, trans, whatever they are”. Preach.
Oh, and she can totally sing too
One of the most touching moments from Jazz’s 20/20 appearance comes from her singing her favourite song; In My Own Little Corner, from Cinderella (here, fyi).
“I can be whatever I want to be” sounds even more poignant coming from her voice. She also made the hilarious video above about her singing around the house which again showcases her *ahem* talent.
So Happy Birthday Jazz! You keep on being you.