Despite her young age, Jazz Jennings is currently one of the most emblematic figures of the LGBTQ community in the US. Long before her show “ I Am Jazz” premiered in 2015, Jazz had been making headlines for her activism about transgender visibility.

Being in the spotlight for so long has allowed Jazz to become a voice for transgender youth, yet her experiences haven’t always been positive. From social media bullying to having her books censored, to facing several issues related to her physical and mental health, Jazz has been dealing with lots of serious topics which most people her age don’t experience.

So what are the things Jazz Jennings has faced as a public image? Keep watching to learn more about her!

Media Coverage

Jazz Jennings has been under the spotlight since she was six years old. The first time she was featured on national TV was in 2007, when she was interviewed by Barbara Walters in her “20/20” news magazine show, in which it was agreed the family’s real names wouldn’t be revealed, as a way to protect Jazz.

That first interview shed some light on Jazz’s experiences as a transgender child. Other media outlets immediately wanted to cover Jazz’s story, being featured in “The Rosie Show” and was interviewed by “The Windy City Times”, on top of starring in the 2011 documentary “I Am Jazz: A Family in Transition”. By the time Jazz became a reality TV star thanks to TLC’s “I Am Jazz”,  she had already written a book, and was widely acknowledged in the LGBTQ community for her activism.

Jazz hasn’t always been pleased with the attention, though. In a 2015 interview with the Miami Herald, she revealed that she was a ‘reserved’ person who enjoyed ‘being alone and relaxing’, yet she sacrificed that lifestyle to be a spokesperson for transgender youth, even though it was ‘overwhelming’ at times. With that being said, criticism and hate have been constantly thrown at Jazz since her rise to fame, but which she usually ignores.

Weight Struggles

Throughout the years, Jazz has been open about not only her experiences as a transwoman, but also her struggles with mental and physical health. The first time Jazz was seen struggling with her weight was in the fourth season of “I Am Jazz” – back when she was informed she needed to lose at least 30lbs to get a gender reassignment surgery, to which Jazz revealed she had problems controlling her eating habits.

By the time People interviewed Jazz in April 2018, she had already reached her weight loss goal, and was ready for surgery. Nevertheless, her weight loss journey continued for the next few years, with Jazz acknowledging in her show that she wasn’t ‘healthy’, despite finding herself beautiful with her then-current physical shape. She also made her ‘binge-eating’ habits public.

It wasn’t any easier for Jazz after that, as in 2021 she revealed that the last two years saw her gaining 100lbs. In her Instagram post, she admitted to suffering from binge-eating disorder (BED), leading her to eat in large quantities, a situation which was furthered by some appetite-increasing side effects some of her meds had on her.

In early 2024, Jazz updated her followers on a recent weight loss which, in her words, made her feel ‘healthier’ and ‘happier’ than ever before. Nevertheless, there’s no denying that Jazz has had a hard time dealing with her eating habits.

Other Health Issues

In 2019 Jazz accomplished a big milestone in her life by being accepted into Harvard, after matriculating as a Valedictorian from the South Florida-based Broward Virtual School. As Jazz told the Sun-Sentinel, she felt that Harvard was the perfect place to academically ‘grow’, a goal which included majoring in philosophy, religion, or gender studies.

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Nonetheless, her start at the Cambridge-based university was delayed by Jazz, as she affirmed to be suffering from mental health issues which pushed her to take a step back to reconsider some aspects of her life. At the time, she revealed on Instagram that the past two years of her life had been ‘busy’ and that it was necessary for her to ‘refocus’ and work on becoming ‘the strongest version of myself’.

Jazz’s struggles with mental health have been directly related to her BED, but she’s also been through other issues in the past years. In 2018 she underwent gender reassignment surgery, which she described to be her life’s dream.

Said procedure was acknowledged as complicated from the beginning, with Jazz suffering a setback which had her returning to the operating theater for a second time, but affirming being very content in the end.

Censorship

Ever since she rose to fame for her TV appearances and the coverage given to her by the media and LGBTQ+ platforms, Jazz has been at the center of controversy for her gender identity. For a start Jazz’s 2016 book “I Am Jazz” began a dispute between the parents of a Californian school after a trans child read it in class in 2017.

According to the website Banned Books Week, the incident led parents to request their children to be taken away from being the kid’s classmates, though the school kept its policy of allowing students to freely choose their books.

Nonetheless, “I Am Jazz” faced several bannings in the following years, with the most recent controversy being in Florida, where the Parental Rights in Education Bill was passed in 2022.

However, censorship has been an issue not only regarding Jazz’s book but also her identity. As she affirmed in an interview with ABC, she often receives criticism for ‘sharing too much information’, yet Jazz defends her stance of sharing her experiences and views on gender identity by affirming that it’s necessary to step out of someone’s comfort ‘to learn’ something new.

Overall, Jazz Jennings might be a controversial figure to some people, but she’s also important and inspiring for many others, especially given how she’s so far sorted out the difficulties thrown her way.

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