Title: BEING JAZZ
Subtitle: MY LIFE AS A (TRANSGENDER) TEEN
Author: JAZZ JENNINGS
Genre: NON-FICTION, AUTOBIOGRAPHY, LGBT
Type of Book: HARDCOVER
Length: 265 pages
Release Date: JUNE 7, 2016
Publisher: CROWN PUBLISHING
Price: $17.99 USD / $23.99 CAN
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟
Jazz was born a girl in a boy’s body. She knew as soon as she could put a sentence together that she was not a boy. She preferred to play with “girl” toys and to dress up in frilly dresses and fancy shoes. Her parents thought at first that it was “just a phase.”
At the ripe old age of fifteen, Jazz Jennings has done more “work” bringing the issue of transgender equality into the International spotlight than most other, older transgender people have done in their many decades of life. It is for this reason that I purchased her book: BEING JAZZ.
I realize that racial equality and gay rights still have a battle to fight as well, but I believe that the fight for trans-equality is the fight that has the furthest to go.
In this book, Jazz tells some brutal stories about what other transgender people have been through, some caused by hatred and prejudice but others happened simply because the transgender person in question was not educated as to what supports and services were available to them. For instance, she tells the following story about a transgender woman named Rajee.
“I soon learned that Rajee hadn’t come out as transgender until she was in her twenties, after going through male puberty. Because she couldn’t afford any sort of gender reassignment surgery, she went to a transgender woman in her neighborhood who promised she could give Rajee inexpensive fillers to help round out her face and hips, giving her a more womanly look. What Rajee didn’t know was that not only was this woman unlicensed to do any sort of medical procedures, but she injected Rajee’s body full of caulking cement, leaving her permanently disfigured. Rajee even woke up one morning with green pus oozing from her face. The ‘doctor’ who did this to her ended up in jail and was charged with manslaughter after another one of her patients died.”
This story highlights just how vulnerable many transgender people can be. No one should ever be made to feel so desperate to change their appearance that they are able to be preyed upon by unscrupulous and/or evil people. There is help out there, people just need to know how to find it. In the back of this book, Jazz has included information as to where transgender people can turn to for help. Including this information may just save someone’s life.
I had planned to write that Jazz is just a typical fifteen year old girl with the same concerns as other teenage girls, but I have come to believe that Jazz is NOT like other teenagers. But, before you get upset at what I just wrote, let me clarify what I mean.
The fact that Jazz Jennings is unlike other teens her age has exactly nothing to do with her physiology. Instead, it has to do with her maturity level. She is much more thoughtful and mature than most other girls her age. How many other fifteen year old girls when speaking about their own depression would say: “There’s a truth I know in my heart, though, that always pulls me out of that place – the meaning of life is the meaning you give it.”? A statement like that comes from a maturity level that exceeds that of most of the rest of the kids her age, so when I say she is different, I mean that in the most complimentary way.
I believe that Jazz has been extremely blessed to have the parents and siblings that she has and Jazz acknowledges their importance in this book when she says: “The loving bond I share with my family is what makes life beautiful and worth living. Love is so strong that I just can’t ignore its power. Love is what keeps me moving forward.”
I do want to make one thing very clear in this book review and that is that Jazz’s story is unfortunately NOT typical of most transgender youth. Jazz was (and still is) extremely fortunate to have had both the emotional and financial support of her family from an extremely young age.
Other trans-youth may not be so lucky. In fact, the suicide rate among this sector of the population is terrifyingly high.
According to the website vocativ dot com, “4.6 percent of the overall U.S. population has self-reported a suicide attempt, with that number climbing to between 10 and 20 percent for lesbian, gay or bisexual respondents. By comparison, 41 percent of trans or gender non-conforming people surveyed have attempted suicide.”
These numbers are alarmingly high. Visit the link above for more information and for ideas on how to stop or reduce the number of transgender suicides. You can also visit Trans Lifeline which is a relatively new suicide hotline for and run by transgender people of all ages. In their first year alone they answered over 8000 calls.An even more wonderful hotline and website called THE TREVOR PROJECT receives over 45,000 calls per year. This is a staggering number of at-risk callers, but at least they now have somewhere to turn.
I found the story of Jazz’s life so far to be an interesting one. I loved the fact that the final chapter of this book was actually a Q & A session between the book’s editor and the individual members of Jazz’s family. Both the questions and the answers were interesting and revealing.
If you are interested in human rights then I think this is a book that you need to read. As far as I am aware, there are not a lot of books currently available offering information on transgender rights and even fewer that focus on trans-youth. I firmly believe that information is power and that as members of a global society, it is our duty and our right to educate ourselves on social issues.
Jazz’s family runs a foundation called TransKids Purple Rainbow Foundation.
I rate this book as 4 out of 5 stars. 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
To learn more about Jazz visit the following websites and profile pages:
Snapchat = jazzmergirl