Fuse is celebrating Pride Month by looking at a variety of rising forces who are creating Future LGBTQ History before our eyes. Today we are honoring Jazz Jennings, whose bravery beginning at such a young age inspires people to accept themselves no matter what stereotypes or arrogance is thrown at them.
Prior to growing into a heartwarming and funny YouTube star, the Florida native became known as the youngest documented person in history to come out as transgender at age 5. In her book Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen (released last June), Jennings explains that when her mother Jeanette was pregnant, she thought she was having a girl. As she grew into a toddler, she remembers comparing genitals to her older siblings while taking baths and always favoring her sister Ari's purple clothing. Jennings recalls a vivid memory when she was 2 years old about the "Good Fairy" who she thought would give her a vagina (excerpt via TIME):
"When I was around 2 years old, I had what I now refer to as the Good Fairy dream. After a long morning of playing with Ari’s dolls, dressing them up and staring enviously at the smooth area between their legs, I took a nap in my sister’s bed. I had no idea that I was asleep—the world seemed crystal clear as a grown woman wearing a blue gown floated into the room. She wasn’t quite like the imaginary creatures you see in cartoons, but I knew instinctively that she was a fairy, thanks to her gossamer wings, the glowing light all around her, and the magic wand that suddenly appeared in her hand. Other than those fantasy details, she looked and acted like an adult, full of purpose and authority.
I don’t remember her exact words, or even if she spoke out loud at all, but I knew why she was there. She promised to use her wand to turn my penis into a vagina. I was ecstatic when I woke up. I felt like all the answers to my prayers were possible. The dream had felt so true, so real, that I knew it was just a matter of time before the fairy would appear again and do what she’d said she could do. I ran downstairs and found my mother sitting in our living room. 'When is the Good Fairy going to come with her magic wand?' I asked. 'The who?' 'The Good Fairy, who will turn my penis into a vagina!' My mom tells me now that this was a huge turning point for her, the first time she truly began to realize that what I was going through probably wasn’t a phase. I remember being crushed when she said no fairy was going to come for me. I had been filled with so much hope when I’d woken up, and it was destroyed within a matter of minutes."
Ever since that moment, Jennings' parents have supported her transitional journey—something that she hasn't taken for granted. The story later touched the hearts nationwide when she sat down for a 20/20 interview with Barbara Walters in 2007. From then on, she became a public representation showing there is nothing wrong, weird or freaky about being transgender. In a society that is filled with an overwhelming amount of ignorance, whether she or her parents meant to do so, Jennings being comfortable with herself at such young age set a much-needed lesson.
Jennings and her family later took a very brave step when they signed on for the I Am Jazz reality TV series on TLC. First premiering in July 2015, the GLAAD Media Award-winning show explores the highs and lows of Jennings' life as a transgender high school student. There are instances of typical teenage angst, spats with parents and siblings that are instantly relatable. But I Am Jazz also displays her interest in getting breast surgery and struggles with dating life.
Season 3 of the series airs on June 28, and it finds the 16-year-old becoming even more honest in ways that most adults are frightened to be. The teaser shows Jennings grappling with her parents about bottom surgery, going to therapy and meeting with the infamously ignorant The Blaze commentator Tomi Lahren. She is truly a brave soul!
From her goofy and transparent conversations with viewers on her YouTube channel to being the honorary co-founder of the TransKids Purple Rainbow Foundation and even getting her own doll, Jazz Jennings' openness to share her life is admirable. As long as she continues to make a difference for her community and makes strides for normalcy, she will secure a place in the future of LGBTQ history.