Jazz Jennings, 20, says she “wouldn’t be the person she is today” if she had been denied treatment for her gender dysphoria and forced to go through male puberty. Now, 21 states have proposed legislation that would criminalize trans medical care for minors and the I Am Jazz star told HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY that she’s “worried” about the bills.
“Being denied the treatment that is necessary for transition can be can be life threatening for transgender youth,” the 20-year-old said, while promoting the first ever Mental Health Action Day, happening May 20. “If you have to go through puberty as the opposite sex, that’s what gender dysphoria is rooted in.”
“I know that if I’d had to go through male puberty that I would be a completely different person than I am today,” she continued. “The fact that these bills are trying to take away the rights of transgender youth to be able to go through certain medical steps for their transition, it’s awful. It’s so wrong.”“Transgender kids are the most vulnerable group of marginalized people,” she added. “They’re targeting kids and I just think we need to be welcoming these kids and helping them on their journeys instead of being being discriminatory and telling them that they can’t take certain steps in their transition. So I am definitely very concerned about the medical bills that are being proposed.”
Jazz was diagnosed with gender dysphoria at age five, making her one of the youngest publicly documented people to be identified as transgender. In 2007, when she was six-years-old she appeared on ABC’s 20/20. She then went on to star in the reality show I Am Jazz, which aired for five years.
When Jazz was eight-years-old she was banned from playing on the girls soccer team and she told HollywoodLife that it hurt her deeply. “I remember when I got banned at a young age I was very upset because soccer was something I was so passionate about and I was told that I couldn’t do something because of a factor that I couldn’t control: My gender identity, something that is just who I am. So it’s very upsetting to know that what’s going on in the world.”
During a previously published interview Jazz spoke to HollywoodLife about her mental health journey after her 2018 gender confirmation surgery. “You know I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster the past few years,” she revealed. “I’ve definitely experienced some crazy things and I have really been in dark, dark places. But I’m proud to say that I’ve crawled out of those dark places and I’m doing so much better today.”
Jazz has worked hard to foster mental health resilience and is encouraging everyone to take action to care for their own mental health. The outspoken activist is lending her voice to Mental Health Action Day.
If you have concerns about your or someone else’s mental health, please contact a medical professional or call 1-800-273-TALK(8255) for a free, confidential conversation.