Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Being Jazz: My Life As A Transgender Teen, by Jazz Jennings

Transgender seems to be the "It" thing lately. It's the new Vampire (the kind that sparkles, of course). It's the new Dystopian thriller (the kind that has a bad-a** female heroine). Left and right, it seems people are coming out and "transitioning" into their true gender. Everyone from famous people to the boy (girl?) next door. Like it's a fashion trend or something.

Or so it seems.

In truth, I think what's really happening is, more and more, people are becoming aware that the transgender condition exists. And, more and more, I think, people are accepting it. What was once taboo is now becoming something that just IS. It's ok to talk about it. And that is totally cool. Sure, there's bad press and haters too, but you can find bad press and haters for anything, if you look hard enough. Believe it or not, there are people out there who even hate kittens (shocker!).

Lets focus on the positive:

Lately, I've read a couple excellent novels by trans authors that featured trans characters, so when Jazz Jennings' autobiography, Being Jazz: My Life As A Transgender Teen, crossed my literary path, I had to check it out. Having read lots of positive reviews about the book helped me want to read it all the more. And all those wonderful reviews... They only scratched the surface of how awesome this book really is.

Jazz, who began transitioning into a girl when she was still in Kindergarten, is a delightful young woman, and reading her first-person account about her journey to becoming herself was truly inspiring.  I loved that Jazz's family was so supportive of her from day one. But what really struck me was Jazz's unshakable confidence in herself. She always knew exactly who she was and never tried to be anyone or anything else. She never caved to pressure, peer, media, or otherwise. She never put on an act to win friends or popularity. She was true to herself from Day One. 

This is a rare quality in a teen.

Actually, it's a rare quality in anyone

Of course Jazz's journey hasn't been paved with sparkles and mermaid tails. There were bullies, bans, hormones, depression, and people who didn't just get it. All this on top of the normal adolescent dramas. Still, she overcame the hurdles thrown at her, and did so admirably. 

I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Being Jazz to anyone who is struggling with identity. Her story is enough to inspire anyone to find the courage to be true to themselves. --AJB

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