Jazz Jennings Reminds Us That We Need to Keep Going

Jeanette Jennings believes that trans people, including & beyond her daughter, are special.

“Transgender people are gifted: they’re brilliant, they’re artistic, they’re athletic, they have multiple amazing things about them,” Jennings tells INTO. “I just think they are the shaman or the higher power…They’re just amazing, brilliant people. That’s my two cents on it, because I’ve watched and learned as an adult.”

Looking at the trajectory of her daughter Jazz’s life so far, one is apt to agree with the proud mama. Jazz Jennings was just six years old when she charmed Barbara Walters and the world by singing a song from the musical “Cinderella”: On the wings of my fancy, I can fly anywhere & the world will open its arms to me.”

Wrapping up her 8th season of the groundbreaking reality show “I Am Jazz: A Family in Transition”  and navigating her new life as a Harvard scholar, Jazz herself feels like the song has remained resonant. At 22 years old, Jazz is still flying.

“People often say, ‘Oh Jazz, you’re extra special, you’re extra aware, you’re extra unique,’” Jazz tells INTO. “But I disagree, I think everyone is unique, everyone is beautiful in their own way.”

It’s this mindfulness of her privileged position that compelled Jazz to organize a Black Trans Lives Matter rally last season on “I Am Jazz,” hoping the show could “celebrate all life, not just certain kinds of life.” The past few years have been the deadliest year on record for trans women—especially Black trans women—and Jazz, just like the rest of us, has been anxiously tracking the painful uptick in anti-trans legislation this year.

The fact that so many anti-trans bills—including bans on adult and teen gender-affirming care, drag bans, and the return of the nefarious “bathroom bills” of 2015—can coexist with the progress of the last few years is dizzying for all of us. How can someone like Jazz, a groundbreaking trans activist who used her story and her family to help move Americans toward widespread acceptance of transness, deal with that fact that despite all that progress, the country seems to be moving backwards?

“A lot of us are still telling the same story, however we’ve progressed because of visibility,” Jazz’s friend and fellow trans trailblazer Ts Madison explains. “You have Jazz’s show, which has had 8 seasons, you’ve had “The Ts Madison Experience,” you’ve had Laverne Cox who came out blazing, trailblazing for over a decade. We’re progressing, and progression brings about change. We have progressive people like the Wades- Gabrielle Union, Dwyane Wade, Zaya Wade, and EJ Johnson, who are causing conversations to really be had in the households in our community.”

Since Jazz started opening up her life to us in 2011, there has been progress. There’s also been backlash. Today, it seems like the backlash is threatening to overwhelm us all, especially in light of Ron DeSantis’s anti-trans bathroom bill being recently signed into law.

But activists like Jazz will keep doing what they do best: living life in the open. For so many of us, there’s just no other choice.

“My parents didn’t force me to be a girl,” Jazz explained in a recent TikTok video. “They didn’t encourage me. They just supported me.”


My mom is my shining light ❤️ #JazzJennings #MattWalsh #IAmJazz #Transgender #Trans When I was persistent, insistent and consistent in sharing to my parents that I was a girl, my parents listened to me. They didn’t encourage me, they supported me with unwavering love and acceptance—as all parents should. To people who call me parents abusers, you have no clue what its like to be in their shoes. Knowing the societal hardships and high suicide rates faced by trans individuals, no parent would choose this for their kids. My mother especially gets so much hate when she was the one who allowed her heart to guide her. I’m so grateful to have her and my dad whose support helped me blossom into the proud woman I am today. My parents’ love has been the foundation of my journey towards self-discovery and authenticity. Their support has shown me that no matter who you are, you deserve to be loved and respected for exactly who you are. Thank you, Mom and Dad, for being my rocks. I love you eternally ❤️

♬ original sound – Jazz Jennings

That support was what allowed Jazz Jennings to be a part of our lives for so long. In the darkest times when we didn’t have anything else, we knew that somewhere in America, there was a talented, fierce-hearted girl whose family loved her enough to see who she truly was.

That legacy is something no one can take away from Jazz, or from us.

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