YouTuber, Activist, TV personality and International transgender spokesperson aside, she’s a typical teenage girl who just happens to be transgender. DTL caught up with Jazz Jennings to talk about transitioning, dealing with transphobia in the past, and what’s in store for the future! ❤️
Hey Jazz thanks for chatting to us! First up, can you tell us a bit about yourself in your own words for those who don’t already know you?
I’m a typical teenage girl who just happens to be transgender. I love spending time with my family and friends, I play soccer, go to school and study a lot. I’m a nerd, and a perfectionist so I put a lot of pressure on myself.
For those who don’t know anything about me, I’ve always known I was girl, and expressed that to my parents when I was just a toddler. I was very determined and wanted to live my life as a girl. So finally, at the age of 5, I transitioned before kindergarten to become the person I am today.
Have you ever experienced bullying as a result of your transition?
Growing up transgender, has been a struggle at times. When I was younger, kids would make fun of me, and often scoot away from me at the lunch table because they thought I had cooties. I was often left out, I call this “exclusionary bullying”.
Could you tell us a bit about it and how you’ve dealt with it?
Kids have always said mean things about me behind my back, and I’ll overhear them. Now that I’m in high school, some kids greet each other with hugs and then, just give me a ‘hi.’ Sometimes I’ve even been called an ‘it’, so I tend to keep to myself. I remind myself that I have friends and family who love me unconditionally, I focus on them and ignore the bullies.
“I tend to ignore the negativity. I don’t care what other people think. I choose to focus on the positive.”
Lots of people ask Ditch the Label for advice about transitioning. What advice would you give to someone who’s hoping to transition?
Be true to yourself and forget what other people think because only you can define who you are. One of the most important things to realize is that the bullies aren’t right. Don’t let anyone tell you who you are because you determine what makes you unique. I know it’s not easy to transition, so surround yourself with those who love and support you, and most importantly – love yourself.
What would you say to someone who is hoping to transition but has a particularly transphobic family or friendship group?
Stay strong, keep moving forward and never give up. If you don’t have a support network, there are organizations and resources out there that can help. Know that you have a whole LBGTQ community that will support you and will we be there for you. Find someone who will accept you for your authentic self. Remain hopeful. So stay strong till then, love yourself. Know that you have a whole community that supports you and is there for you.
“I know it’s not easy to transition, so surround yourself with those who love and support you and most importantly – love yourself.”
As a YouTuber with over 300,000 subscribers on your channel, how do you deal with any negativity you get online?
I tend to ignore the negativity. I don’t care what other people think. I choose to focus on the positive, beautiful support that I receive from thousands of people worldwide. In fact, my supporters will often challenge and battle the haters for me.
How do you think society can be better allies to the trans community?
Look for events and parades in your own community. Attend these events and show that you really care. Befriend someone who is transgender and may be struggling. Sometimes the simplest thing, like giving someone hug can make all the difference in the life of a transperson. Also, educate yourself on what it means to be transgender and share your knowledge with others.
“Find someone who will accept you for your authentic self… know that you have a whole community that supports you and is there for you.”
What’s one thing you wish everybody knew about being transgender?
There are so many things that are misunderstood when it comes to being transgender. One of the most important things that people need to know is that being transgender isn’t a choice. We are who we are, because we were born this way. No one decides one day to wake up and decide to be the opposite gender.
What is your greatest achievement?
My greatest achievement is knowing that I’m changing lives. I receive letters from all over the world. People thank me for sharing my story because it’s helped them. In some cases people say they would have taken their own lives if I hadn’t given them the courage to stay strong.
What are your goals for the future?
I get asked this a lot. Personally, I’m not sure what the future holds for me. I think I may want to be a filmmaker, a director, or a story writer. I could create films and books with really good messages that will help people to better understand themselves. Then again, there are so many things I love to do. As far as my advocacy, I will never stop being a voice for the transgender community.
Anything you’d like to add?
I know that being transgender is a challenge, especially when society doesn’t accept or understand our community, however by sharing our voices we can create positive change and progress in our world and I know that one day being transgender will no longer be a struggle, rather something that is fully embraced.
“I’m proud of who I am. This is me, and I’m transgender, and that’s okay. It makes me a stronger person, a more confident person, and it just makes me myself.”
Follow @JazzJennings_ on Twitter and check out her YouTube Channel:
Image by Steve Pisano