Jazz Jennings (born 2000 or 2001) is an American YouTube personality, spokesmodel, television personality, and LGBTQ rights activist. Jennings, a transgender teenage girl, is notable for being one of the youngest publicly documented people to be identified as transgender, and for being the youngest person to become a national transgender figure.
Jennings received national attention in 2007 when an interview with Barbara Walters aired on 20/20, which led to other high-profile interviews and appearances. Christine Connelly, a member of the board of directors for the Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth, stated, "She was the first young person who picked up the national spotlight, went on TV and was able to articulate her perspective and point of view with such innocence." Her parents noted that Jennings was clear on being female as soon as she could speak.
Jennings is an honorary co-founder of the TransKids Purple Rainbow Foundation, which she and her parents founded in 2007 to assist transgender youth. In 2013, she founded Purple Rainbow Tails, a company in which she fashions rubber mermaid tails to raise money for transgender children.
Jennings hosts a series of YouTube videos about her life, titled "I Am Jazz", making her one of the youngest trans females in history to speak out on issues publicly. Jennings stars in the TLC reality TV series, I Am Jazz, which focuses on her life with her family as a teenager and as a transgender youth. The series premiered on July 15, 2015.
Jennings was born in South Florida to parents Greg and Jeanette ("Jennings" is a pseudonym). The family is Jewish, and their last name is "a very Jewish, long last name." Jennings has an older sister, Ari, and two older brothers, twins Sander and Griffen.
Jennings was assigned male at birth. In 2004, Jennings was diagnosed with gender identity disorder as a child, making her one of the youngest publicly documented people to be identified as transgender. Jennings made it clear as soon as she could speak that she was female, and, although the family presented her publicly in gender-neutral clothing, she wanted to be presented in feminine clothing.
At six years old, Jennings and her family began appearing on television to speak about the challenges of growing up transgender. Her story has been covered by national television shows 20/20 and The Rosie Show, where she appeared alongside Chaz Bono.
In 2013, Jennings founded Purple Rainbow Tails, a company in which she fashions rubber mermaid tails to raise money for transgender children. That same year, in a follow-up interview with Barbara Walters on 20/20, they discussed Jennings' two-and-a-half-year battle with the United States Soccer Federation (USSF), the governing US body for the sport, to allow her to play on girls' teams. Aided by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, she succeeded in changing the USSF's policies to allow trans students to play.
That September, Jennings co-wrote a children's book, I Am Jazz, with Jessica Herthel, the director of the Stonewall National Education Project. The book details her life as a transgender child.
In 2014, Jennings was a guest at the GLAAD Media Awards, sharing the stage with Zach Wahls and Lauren Foster. That year she was also named one of "The 25 Most Influential Teens of 2014" by Time, and recognized as the youngest person ever featured on Out's "Out 100" and Advocate's "40 Under 40" lists. She was also named in OUT's 2014 Trans 100 list, named a Human Rights Campaign Youth Ambassador, and received LogoTV's 2014 Youth Trailblazer Award.
In March 2015, Johnson & Johnson announced a deal for Jennings to appear in Clean & Clear commercials. Jennings became a spokesmodel for Clean & Clear's "See The Real Me" digital campaign and shared "the trials of growing up transgender." She also modeled for the NOH8 Campaign. She also authored a piece for Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People List, writing the entry for Laverne Cox.
In 2016, Jennings published a memoir, Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen.
In 2012, Jennings discussed her sexual orientation with Barbara Walters during her 20/20 interview, saying she is attracted to boys and that she harbored some apprehension about dating because of her transgender identity. In a Q&A video posted to her YouTube Channel in July 2014, Jennings stated that she is pansexual, and that she loves people "for their personality", regardless of their sexual orientation or gender status.
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- "Who We Are". TransKids Purple Rainbow Foundation. Retrieved July 15, 2015.
- Linster, The (28 November 2011). ""I Am Jazz" is a heartwarming look at a transgender 11-year-old". AfterEllen.
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- Sherouse, Beth (16 October 2014). "HRC Foundation Introduces Youth Ambassadors". Human Rights Campaign.
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- Jennings, Jazz (16 April 2015). "Laverne Cox". Time.
- Schoenberg, Nara. "Transgender teen growing up in spotlight talks about bullying, depression". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 20 June 2016.
- "Jazz Jennings: Transgender teen opens up about dating for the first time". Daily Mail. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
- "Jazz a Transgender Child: Q&A". YouTube. 2014-01-01. Retrieved 2015-04-22.
- "Jazz, 12-Year-Old Transgender Girl, On Her Desire To Become A Mother". The Huffington Post. 3 April 2013. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
- Amato, Laura (22 July 2015). "Greg & Jeanette Jennings, 'I Am Jazz': 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know". Heavy.com.