‘I Am Jazz’: Transitioning from a Girl to a Woman

'I Am Jazz'
Image Credit: TLC


Now in it’s third season, the GLAAD award-winning series “I Am Jazz follows transgender 16-year-old Jazz Jennings, who finds herself at the crossroads of making one of the biggest decisions of her life. Jazz looks to move forward with gender confirmation surgery, a decision which is made even more complicated when she receives the news that her surgical options are more limited than she previously thought.

In addition to the standard drama and angst that comes with being a teenager, Jazz faces an increasingly hostile world of discrimination, hate speech, online bullying and an array of misconceptions associated with what it means to be transgender. With the unwavering support of her parents and siblings, Jazz navigates the difficult road that lies ahead while sharing her story with the world.

I was fortunate enough to sit down and chat with Jazz herself about all things season three of “I Am Jazz.” We covered everything from surgery to driving, Tomi Lahren to Khaleesi and, of course, love interests. Check it out below.

Watch this fearless girl take new challenges head on in the #IAmJazz two-night season premiere starting TONIGHT at 10/9c!

Posted by I Am Jazz on Tuesday, June 27, 2017


Why don’t you start by telling us a little bit about Season 3 and what we should expect from “I Am Jazz.”

Well, I’ve been saying that season 3 is really about my transition from a girl to a woman. Because I do multiple things that represent me growing up and evolving. For example, I start going on more dates, I have my sweet 16, I’m driving, and also the gender confirmation surgery … which is a big development.

Yes, absolutely. It seems like bottom surgery is a large part of the story arch for this season, which I think is fantastic. A lot of people could probably do with education in this area. Was there anything in particular that you learned through your experience that was surprising to you?

Oh my gosh! I learned so many different things while talking about the bottom surgery. Actually, everything I heard from the doctors and surgeons was basically new information. I thought I knew a lot about the procedure, but really, I didn’t. So, I’m really excited to see how the viewers react to all this new content and how they view the procedure after seeing all this. Basically, the main thing I learned is I thought that everything was going to be okay, and that I was going to get the standard vaginoplasty. However, after learning that being on hormone blockers caused suppression, especially in the genital area, that we would have to use an alternative procedure. So, you’ll see me exploring that a lot this season throughout the consultations. That was definitely new and shocking information that proved to be a challenge.

I look forward to seeing how that plays out. That must feel like a huge step. How else do you think things have changed for you, your family and for the show since Season 1?

Since the release of the show, I mean every now and then we get recognized on the streets and its really crazy to know that people actually watch us on TV and they know who we are, because I just honestly feel like a regular, normal girl. Before starting this whole process, I always said that I would never compromise who I am as a person. And I really feel like I have stayed true to who I am. I’m still this quirky, weird, funky girl who loves to have fun and has no restraint, and just goes with the flow in life. So, I wouldn’t say that I’ve changed as a person, and I don’t think my family has changed as individuals, but the situation of our life has definitely progressed in a way.

I can understand that. So, will we finally get to see Jazz fall in love this season?

You’ll see Jazz going on dates, for sure. There’s definitely possible love interests there and you’ll see it all play out. There will be some dating going on.

'I Am Jazz'
Image Credit: TLC

Sixteen and driving. How is that going? Your mom seemed quite concerned in the preview. Has she come around to your driving skills?

When I first started driving I wasn’t very good at all. I think when you first get behind the wheel everyone has a little bit of a challenge. It feels very different. I don’t think I was that bad, but according to my mom I was terrible because I was almost hitting trashcans and trees. So it was pretty terrible. A few months after filming though I got my license. I took a few driving lessons with an instructor and I became great. Now I’m fine. I drive places by myself, so all’s good. Better watch out for Jazz Jennings on the road!

Right?! Scary Stuff. Speaking of, we have to talk about the interview with Tomi Lahren. What was that like? It looks like it was pretty intense.

She is intense as a person. Not gonna lie. She definitely has a big personality and I call her kind of like a pitbull or a bulldog when it comes to interviewing because she has this aggressive approach and she raises her voice, and kind of just blatantly states her opinion without any regard to the other facts. I was very worried going into it. I wasn’t sure what to expect, how this was going to play down. Was this going to be a big debate? Were we going to be arguing back and forth? And that’s not really what I want. I wanted it to be a formal discussion, where I could hopefully try and change her mind. I hope that I was able to implement some positive messages into her perspective, but I don’t know if it is going to be long-lasting. I don’t know how she feels.

It will certainly be interesting to see. While we’re discussing lasting impressions, what is the one thing you hope people will take away from seeing the show?

I think the main thing this show is trying to express is that being transgender is normal. You know, we are people just like everyone else. And by sharing my story and showing viewers that I am just a regular 16-year-old girl, they can understand that transgender people are people too. That we deserve to be treated equally and respected for who we are. The challenges that we face are completely unnecessary and we deserve equal protections in the workplace.

So, do you ever sit down and watch the show yourself? I know some people don’t like to watch themselves on television. 

Yea, it is definitely hard to watch myself on TV now and then, because when it comes to the show, I try to be as authentic as possible. If I’m having a bad day and I’m being sassy then I’m going to be sassy on camera, because that’s just who I am. I can’t deny those feelings and really, I’m not going to change who I am, just to try and be perfect, and you know fit those stereotypes. So, it’s definitely hard to look back and watch those moments when I am apparently down or upset, but it’s fine. And I watch all the episodes with my family. We all gather around the TV, and sit by and watch it and I do live tweets every now and then. So, yea I definitely watch it.

It’s amazing that you can even find the time to watch TV between filming, press tours and all of your transgender advocacy work. Is there anything else you are watching?

'Being Jazz'
Image Credit: Crown Books

Of course, I watch a lot of TV. I love TV. TV, TV, TV! I could just say that word all the time. It’s what I do as my relaxation, binge-watch a TV show. There are so many different shows I love. It would take me like an hour to name them all. On Netflix, I love the show “Black Mirror.” But I also love “Game of Thrones” and I am super excited for it come back.

You and me both! If you had to pick a “Game of Thrones” character, which one would you be?

Oh my god! This is going to be the classic answer, but obviously I would be Khaleesi (Daenerys Targaryen). Girl power right there! I feel like everyone you interview who is a female would say that answer, but she’s awesome. I love her.

Fabulous choice. Now, apart from your book coming out on paperback this year, what else is on the cards for Jazz this year?

There are definitely some other projects that we potentially have in the works but they’re kind of secretive right now. Anything that I could do to just really help other people and get my message across is worth doing. And I always say, if I can change or even save just one life, if I can make the difference for that one individual, there is no better accomplishment than that, being able to help a person. And by sharing our stories, we can help not just one person but many people. Even though I don’t really like attention, if it means that it could make a difference and create positive change, I’m willing to give up my privacy and put myself out there.

Join the conversation on social media by using the hashtag #IAmJazz or by liking the show on Facebook.  You can also follow TLC on Instagram & Twitter to find more videos and other content from Jazz.

I Am Jazz returns to TLC for it’s third season on June 28 at 9 p.m. EST. Be sure to watch the premiere or binge-watch seasons one and two from the beginning.

Scott Conant is the LGBTQ Editor for Comcast XFINITY. You can watch his top picks and more LGBTQ-related titles in the XFINITY LGBTQ Film & TV Collection

To visit the LGBTQ Film & TV Collection on XFINITY, or say “LGBTQ” into the X1 Voice Remote.

On X1: Navigate to “Popular Destinations” > LGBTQ Film & TV
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