'I'm a Girl' -- Understanding Transgender Children

At school, Jazz is registered as a boy. Her teachers know she's biologically male, but most of her classmates don't. She's lucky because there's a unisex bathroom and in sports, unisex teams. But even play dates are an issue.

Renee said, "I don't want to send Jazz over to anybody's house unless they know the truth. Nor will I let a child walk into our house, and play with Jazz, unless it's been explained to them."

Jazz's physical safety is always on Scott's mind. He worries about teasing, taunting, or worse. "Every day I'm afraid that I might get a call that something happened. But what we've tried to do for Jazz is give her as much self-esteem as we can. We have older brothers, and an older sister, that are always looking out for her. Keeping their eyes on her."

Dresses and Mermaids

After months of careful deliberation, the Jennings agreed to participate in Barbara Walters' special on transgender children, in the hope that doing so would further understanding of Jazz and others like her.

"I don't feel like you can capture the true essence of a child like Jazz until you see her in her environment doing things that she would normally do. It makes it a lot more believable," said Scott.

Jazz's bedroom is filled with things one would find in a typical girl's room: dresses in the closet, pink and purple sheets, and a bed overflowing with stuffed animals. There are also mermaids -- lots and lots of mermaids.

Asked why she liked mermaids so much, Jazz said, "Because they're different than us." She added, "They have tails."

"All of the male to female younger transgender children are obsessed with mermaids," said Renee. "It's because of the ambiguous genitalia. There's nothing below the waist but a tail. And how appealing is that for somebody who doesn't like what's down there?"

Jazz told Walters that she was very happy being a girl, and that she always thought of herself as one. When people ask her whether she's a boy or a girl, Jazz answers without any hesitation: a girl.

Jazz also showed Walters a drawing of a little girl with a tear-streaked face. Jazz drew it when she was in pre-school and still dressing as a boy. Asked by Walters why the little girl was crying, Jazz said, "Because she wants to wear the dress to school."

Now allowed to wear a dress, Renee reports that Jazz enjoys going to school and has lots of friends. If Jazz hadn't been allowed to transition, Renee said, Jazz today would be "very depressed" and "suffering."

The Child That Never Was

For all intents and purposes, Jazz is a girl. But underneath her frilly dresses, she still has the body of a boy, and puberty looms large over the horizon.

"This child will come into my bedroom in the middle of the night, [and say] 'Mommy, mommy, I had a bad dream that I had a beard and moustache like daddy, and I don't ever want to have a beard or a moustache,'" Renee said.

In order to prevent Jazz's nightmare from becoming a reality, the Jennings will probably allow her to undergo hormone therapy when she reaches puberty. First, Jazz's doctor will prescribe blockers that will stop her from growing body hair and developing other masculine characteristics.

Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
  • |
  • 4
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...