'I Am Jazz': Transgender Teen on Grappling with High School, Puberty

Jazz Jennings has a new reality show about her life called "I Am Jazz."

ByABC News
July 14, 2015, 2:20 PM

— -- Like many teenage girls her age, Jazz Jennings spent time at the beach this summer and loves playing soccer with her friends, but she’s about to face a new challenge when she starts high school in the fall.

“I’m a little bit worried because I’m not sure if people are going to be fully accepting,” she said. “I’ve noticed that boys are less accepting than girls.”

Jazz is transgender, and at just 14 years old, she is staving off puberty and medically transitioning her body to female, the gender she identifies as, by taking estrogen and puberty blockers. All the while, like her peers, Jazz is trying to navigate typical teenage issues.

“It's hard for me to talk about boys with my friends sometimes,” Jazz said. “All they have to do is stuck their butt out and then a boy's like, ‘Text me.’ For me, it's not like that.”

Jazz's family, whose legal last name is not Jennings, has been sharing its story publicly for nearly a decade, beginning with Jazz’s landmark interview with ABC’s Barbara Walters in 2007, when she was just 6 years old.

In the years since, Jazz has bravely remained in the spotlight, speaking publicly on transgender issues, and she co-authored a book entitled “I Am Jazz.”

Now Jazz and her family have decided to let cameras into their lives once again, this time on a new TLC series called, “I Am Jazz.”

“I just want to be as open as I can,” Jazz said. “It will show other people that being transgender … is OK, it’s not something negative at all. It’s something that I embrace, that my family embraces, and we just live our life, we face the challenges, we conquer them and we move on.”

While some would consider taking hormones to stave off puberty as a controversial move, Jazz’s parents insist it’s essential to her wellbeing.

“I feel that it was the right decision to make,” said her mother Jeanette Jennings. “Even though you’re worried about, it, what would be the consequences if she didn’t … we didn’t want a child that was going through life just hating herself.”

Jazz was assigned “male” at birth, but her mother said from the moment she could express herself, “she acted like a girl.”

“She liked anything sparkly, sparkly and pink,” Jeanette Jennings said. “And she’s so feminine.”

“Early on, we thought it was phase,” Jazz’s father Greg Jennings added. “Even though she was gravitating towards these things, we didn’t really think that much of it initially.”

When Jazz was 3, she was diagnosed with what is now called gender dysphoria.

“I was dumbfounded,” Greg said. “I didn’t know that a child could have issues like this. I never heard of it before.”

Jazz’s parents decided to let her live as a girl. Her fifth birthday party was Jazz’s public “coming out.”

“I got to wear the sparkly bathing suit for my party, I was a girl,” she said. “I was just … it’s happiness.”

As Jazz grew older, her parents said Jazz would have nightmares about puberty and how her body would change.

“She always said, ‘You’re not going to let me have a beard and a mustache,’ and I’m like, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll do what we have to do when the time comes,’” Jeanette said.