I Am Jazz is the children’s book co-written by Internet/TV personality Jazz Jennings that follows an autobiographical look at her early life, being assigned a boy at birth but always feeling like she was a girl.
Part of the reason I think so many people find it so controversial because it teaches children they don’t always have to accept their current station in life. Nothing makes conservative Christian white people more upset than the realization that someone else out there “doesn’t know their place.” When I was a kid, we’d call people like Jazz “sissies” or the other F-word that is a derogatory term about the LGBTQIA community.
The real Jazz was born in 2000 so she had the benefit of having supportive parents and a medical community that understood her better. Sadly, Jazz also had the opportunity to grow up at a time where it wasn’t the latest buggerbar. She was born in Florida where now Republicans want to remove children who were like Jazz. The book is co-written with Jessica Herthel and they’re able to make it appeal to other children who might be going through the same gender dysphoria, which is something some people don’t understand.
While we’ve all seen the photos of Franklin D. Rooslevelt as a young child wearing what looks like girl clothings, there actually wasn’t gender clothes at the time. So, what this is really about is controlling children. And unfortunately, making them so depressed they don’t want to live. While Jazz had a supportive family, school and medical representatives, many people don’t.
Currently, internet personality Kelly Cadigan has been making the rounds with right-wing media by saying that people shouldn’t start transitioning under they’re 18, even though she started transitioning when she was 15. It’s the typical “It worked for me, but not for others” double standard. The irony is while Cadigan is being used by conseravatives as the voice for millions, there’s other people on the right who don’t want her either.
The question I have and this book also asks it – what does it bother other people? We live in a society where people change their hair color, have plastic surgery and even get so many tattoos that to paraphase the line in 1991’s Cape Fear, you don’t know whether to look at people or read them. And all these people who have “desecrated their body as a temple” with tattoos and piercings are telling other people they can’t go through HRT.
So, by a lot of people’s rationale, you shouldn’t have any types of surgeries that include metal hardware to help your mobility or even blood tranfusions. Even having fillings in your teeth is changing your appearance. But it’s for your own health, they’ll argue. It helps transgender people and their health. Cadigan has had gender reassignment surgery so she has no room to complain. Everyone follows a different path.
And that’s why angers people about this book. We live in a society that wants to tell us what to eat, who to marry and what types of jobs we should have. Every school in this country is keeping some students down because they’re afraid of someone else competing with the more privileged kids. Every church in America is the same. And these two enviroments can be dangerous for young people because the last thing some adults want to see is the wrong people succeed.
Even though Jazz says there were some people who made fun of her, in the end, she doesn’t care. They couldn’t stop her from being who she is. Now, 22, she’s a young woman and probably more successful than the kids who made fun of her. Even if she wasn’t a success, she would still be Jazz. And that’s what really matters.
What do you think? Please comment.