While in the process of re-reading Redefining Realness, which I recommend, I find myself matching some of the struggles of Janet Mock’s to Jazz Jennings and it seeming like almost an adaptation. Albeit with Jazz living a more affluent life, since she is straight up middle class, but there remains the same issues that Janet Mock mentioned, but with a keen focus on how a lack of a fellow trans girl, and a more normal childhood, can lead to different issues. Which, altogether, is rather hard to explain, but we do surely try below.
Characters & Story (with Commentary)
Topic 1: Some Background and Family Matters
Jazz is 14 years old and is the youngest of four. Her eldest sister is Ari, a college student, and after her comes the twins Griffen and Sander. Now, as known, Jazz’s name wasn’t at first Jazz, it was something else. However, with Jazz being so mesmerized by seeing Ari play Jasmine in Aladdin, she decided Jazz would be her name, something which her family has come to accept.
Now, the reason I use the words “something which her family has come to accept” is because that while the journey to acceptance may not have been as dangerous or traumatizing as many trans youth experience, there still was some push back at first. Whether it was the father trying to ignore Jazz’s ways as a child, the mom having her dress as a boy for school, or even them now mentioning how the situation could be worse, and noting it as extraordinary. Which, mind you, isn’t mean to be insulting, but it does lead you to understand that everyone is still learning and adjusting to the best of their abilities.
Topic 2: Boobs & Butts
But perhaps no one more so than Jazz. For while she came into knowing she was a girl born into a boy’s body around 2 or 3, there is this huge complex about what it means to be a girl. Of which the basics seem to be having boobs and a butt, as well as male attention. Though, alongside that, you can often see that she is trying to navigate between knowing she is a girl, what is expected of girls, trying to fit that perception to be completely and utterly fish, as well as trying to discover what type of girl she is. All of which is as complicated as it sounds, but thanks to what seems to be 4 good friends, and a highly supportive family, despite her not blossoming the way she wants to, she is making progress in being physically how she sees herself mentally.
Topic 3: The Doctor’s Visit
Leading to the medical side of things. Now, being that Jazz began taking estrogen before puberty, a lot of the things that happen to those with regular testosterone levels, like body hair, among other things, aren’t happening to her. However, being that she is altering the chemistry of her body, and this isn’t something which has a one foolproof method of working, it seems very much that there is a constant worry of her testosterone levels raising, or maybe her estrogen not being high enough, and how this can affect her in the long run.
But perhaps the most interesting part of most of the show is that it takes what you might have saw in Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word and expands on it exponentially. For while, once again, Jazz does live a fairly privileged life, in which poverty is nowhere near an issue, some of the themes in that special dealing with harassment, love, and self-love, are seen as Jazz notes her insecurities. Of which are things dealing with boys not liking her to, on camera, being called a tranny freak. Something which I was surprised was caught on camera, but at the same time it shows how disgusting people are that they will, despite a camera’s presence, still insult someone as sweet as Jazz with the malice of a would-be victim.
Things To Note
Jeanette, Jazz’s mom, notes there are issues with finding a doctor for trans children, and it seems that a pediatrician even having a trans patient is far from the norm. At least according to Jeanette’s father.
Surgery is mentioned in the episode, but being that topic is so personal, and a bit of a landmine for Jeanette, it is only talked about when Dr. Charlton brings it up. As for Jazz’s answer, well with her being used to her body, she helps give you insight into how someone trans feels about that surgery which often is a topic for those who don’t fully understand trans people.
This show is not like Redefining Realness in the sense that it isn’t trying to lecture you as much as it wants to present a slice of life, and perhaps help you mentally adjust as Jazz’s parents did – assuming that is the right way to put it.
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