July 15, 2016

Being Jazz

Being Jazz

One of the things we notice when displaying LGBTQ children's and young adult books is the near absence of biographies of out LGBTQ individuals. The erasure of the history and lives of the LGBTQ community reveals an indifference to these experiences and the stigma of visibility.

Like the picture book I am Jazz, Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teenager by Jazz Jennings is groundbreaking, being one of the few nonfiction books written for young people about being transgender.

Jennings has known she was transgender as long as she can remember. She officially lived as a girl starting at six years old and is fortunate to have a supportive family. She describes her experience with teenage depression and antidepressants, but the book is mostly very uplifting and accessible, from the joyful front and back cover images to Jennings' vivacious personality and the abundance of photos in the book.

The parentheses in the book's title suggest that Jennings is a regular teen, that being trans doesn't make her life unrelatable to cisgender teens. However, she clearly has pride in her identity; at the Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference she said that she'd rather be trans than a cisgender girl. The fortitude of the Jennings family is impressive. They navigated hostile and ignorant schools and sports teams and media attention, all the while creating the scaffolding for Jazz to safely be herself.

Being Jazz is an inspirational memoir that any teen can learn from and that transgender teens and families will cherish.

The back matter includes an extensive Q & A with the members of her family and LGBTQ resources for youth and families.

Posted by kathryn at July 15, 2016 05:07 PM
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