The star of I am Jazz is just one of several transgender role models available to those looking for inspiration, but unlike celebrities such as Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox, Jazz Jennings needs as much guidance as others. As fans of I am Jazz will see in the upcoming episode, Jazz is having her own difficulties adjusting to the new world of dating and romance, as Ms. Jennings enters high school.
“When I see everyone else finding romance and everything, I just feel a little bit excluded and left out.”
Jeanette Jennings, Jazz’s mother, confesses that she’s worried about much more than the basic troubles usually related to dating. Ms. Jennings tries to show Jazz that there is more to consider than she may even realize.
“I am worried because I’m realistic. Dating is about intimacy and sexuality,” Jeanette says. “She was assigned male at birth, and that makes her different.”
Ms. Jennings says she’s concerned for the I am Jazz star because it’s a very dangerous time for transgenders and she doesn’t want Jazz to be victimized by those acting solely on their own ignorance or homophobia.
“If you are transgender, it’s dangerous to date without disclosing. There are people murdered every year because they were sexually involved or intimate with somebody and did not tell them.”
In speaking of being upfront, Jazz cites her own role models and credits them for making it easier for her to be up front and have the talk with her peers, even though I am Jazz was a forerunner to other, more high profile transgenders only recently going public with their stories.
“I’ve already transitioned. And I’ve been able to present as a girl, the way I identify as. But now, it’s time for society to transition along with me, and accept me for who I am. And I feel that with the visibility of Caitlyn Jenner sharing her story, and Laverne Cox — all these inspirations — people are finally becoming more accepting of transgender individuals, and in that way it does help me. Now, in telling someone that I’m transgender, I can say I’m a mini-Caitlyn Jenner and they’ll understand immediately. It makes it easier to explain when people ask. They’re educated and understand what it means to be transgender. So yeah, it’s definitely made a difference for me.”
Jazz reveals that she’s not ignorant of the dangers she faces, and the I am Jazz star confesses that she has already received more threats and harassment than any 14-year-old should ever have to face.
“We have received death threats in the past. We do receive, on YouTube or maybe a little bit on other social media, some horrible, horrible comments. Really bad haters, true bigots. I hate to use the word evil, but there are people out there with hearts that I just don’t understand. Who would ever threaten the life of a child? There’s something very wrong with a person who would do that.”
The next episode of I am Jazz airs Wednesday, July 29 on TLC.
[Featured image: Jazz Jennings courtesy of Jason Merritt/Getty Images]