Transgender reality star Jazz Jennings condemns anti-trans health bills

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Transgender reality star Jazz Jennings has flipped the anti-trans health laws being introduced across the country, saying the hormone blockers she started at age 11 were “lifesaving.”

The 20-year-old I Am Jazz star, who covers Variety’s Power of pride issue, she told the magazine she is “very, very frustrated” by conservative state lawmakers’ attempts to prevent trans youth from accessing gender-affirming health care.

‘So often people think, ‘Children don’t know any better.’ But the kids do know, and we should listen to them, because they are more connected to their minds and souls than many adults,” said Jennings, who transitioned from male to female in kindergarten.

Using her voice: Jazz Jennings, who covers Variety's Power of Pride release, said she is

Using her voice: Jazz Jennings, who covers Variety’s Power of Pride release, said she is “deeply frustrated” by legislative efforts to ban gender-affirming health care for trans youth

Wise words: 20-year-old reality star, who transitioned from male to female in kindergarten, emphasized that trans children know what's best for them

Wise words: 20-year-old reality star, who transitioned from male to female in kindergarten, emphasized that trans children know what’s best for them

In April, Arkansas state lawmakers passed the country’s first law banning gender-affirming treatments for transgender minors under the age of 18, including puberty blockers, hormone therapies and menopause-related surgeries.

Jennings said starting hormone blockers before she went through puberty was the only thing that stopped her nightmares of beards and mustaches haunting her.

dr. Jack Turban, a fellow in child and adolescent psychiatry at Stanford University School of Medicine, said Variety can safely transition under the care of medical professionals. may lower the high rate of suicidal ideation in trans youth.

“Almost every major medical organization – from the American Medical Assn. to the American Psychiatric Assn. and the American Academy of Pediatrics — has explicitly opposed this type of legislation,” he said.

“This kind of national transphobic rhetoric has a dramatic impact on children, resulting in a deterioration in self-esteem, anxiety and depression. … These bills really represent a mental health crisis.”

Identity: Jennings, pictured with her parents, began verbalizing she was a girl as a toddler

Identity: Jennings, pictured with her parents, began verbalizing she was a girl as a toddler

Looking back: Jennings, pictured as a child, said starting hormone blockers at age 11 was the only thing that stopped her nightmares of beards and mustaches haunting her

Looking back: Jennings, pictured as a child, said starting hormone blockers at age 11 was the only thing that stopped her nightmares of beards and mustaches haunting her

More than a dozen states have introduced similar bills this year as part of a growing effort to curtail the rights of transgender youth.

On Wednesday, Jennings’ home state of Florida passed a law banning transgender girls and women from playing on girls’ and women’s sports teams at public high schools and colleges.

The LGBTQ activist took to Instagram that day to hit back at the legislation and shared a photo of herself and her brother Sander posing in front of a double rainbow.

“As someone who has experienced discrimination in sports, I feel terrible about the message that laws like this are sending to transgender youth,” she wrote. “They may be trying to take our sport, our health care and our rights, but they can’t take our #PRIDE!”

Jennings, who started verbalizing she was a girl as a toddler, shared how she was banned from playing girls’ travel soccer when she was eight.

“I was told I would hurt the other kids,” she told Variety. “I had friends on the team. Those were my girls and my teammates.’

Difficult to handle: Jennings recalled having to play on the boys' soccer team at age eight because she would

Difficult to handle: Jennings recalled having to play on the boys’ soccer team at age eight because she would “hurt the other kids” on the girls’ team

Open book: Jennings documented her gender confirmation surgery in the fifth season of her TLC reality series 'I Am Jazz'

Open book: Jennings documented her gender confirmation surgery in the fifth season of her TLC reality series ‘I Am Jazz’

She was forced to join the boys’ team, leaving her feeling like she didn’t belong and was unable to enjoy the game she loved.

“Football was my favorite sport, my pride and joy,” she said. “It was just a way for me to let go, have fun and just be myself.”

Aided by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the Jennings family fought with the United States Football Federation for two years until the organization created a trans-inclusive policy.

“I’m hopeful that the bills are passed, or that something is passed at the federal level that prevents these bills from passing,” Jennings said. “It’s discrimination, you know?”

Jennings was 14 and about to start high school when her show I Am Jazz premiered on TLC — the same month as Caitlyn Jenner’s reality series I Am Cait debuted.

Proud: Jennings shares photos of the scars from her gender confirmation surgery for the first time since her June 2018 surgery

Proud: Jennings took to Instagram on New Year’s Eve in 2018 to share photos of her scars from her gender confirmation surgery. She had her first surgery in June 2018

All smiles: Jennings had her third gender confirmation surgery in February 2020, pre-pandemic

All smiles: Jennings had her third gender confirmation surgery in February 2020, pre-pandemic

‘She stole [the title] ours,” the reality star said of Jenner, who chronicled her post-menopausal life in the short-lived series.

Jennings’ show is still going strong, and in the past sixth seasons, she documented her life as a transgender teenage girl and showed viewers what gender-affirming healthcare looks like in real life.

“I learned that there were a lot of other kids like me who could identify with me, and who saw me, and learned more about themselves by seeing me and my experience,” she said. “When I heard about it that way, I thought, ‘Okay, that’s pretty cool.'”

During the show’s fifth season, she gave fans a behind-the-scenes look at her gender confirmation surgery. She had her first procedure in June 2018 and later showed her scars in a maroon one-piece in photos she shared on Instagram on New Year’s Eve.

“It was hard to decide how open I should be just because so many high profile transgender people don’t talk about their surgeries,” she said. “But for me, I just think I wanted to educate as many people as possible about the experience and what it’s like to have it first hand.”

Mad: On Wednesday, she took to Instagram to hit back at Florida law after the state passed a law banning transgender girls from playing on girls' sports teams in public schools

Mad: On Wednesday, she took to Instagram to hit back at Florida law after the state passed a law banning transgender girls from playing on girls’ sports teams in public schools

Back in action: Jennings and her family will begin filming the seventh season of her reality series I Am Jazz this summer after a long hiatus

Back in action: Jennings and her family will begin filming the seventh season of her reality series I Am Jazz this summer after a long hiatus

Variety revealed in the cover story that I Am Jazz will officially go into production in its seventh season after a long hiatus. The previous season ended when Jennings graduated from high school as farewell.

She announced on Instagram in October 2019 that she was taking a gap year before attending Harvard University.

The reality star explained that she wanted to “focus on self-care” after a busy year with her life-changing surgery.

Jennings also eventually took a break from the show, which she hasn’t filmed since 2019.

“I needed that break for my mental health and well-being, honestly,” she admitted. “But I’ve had that time to really use self-care to boost myself and evolve and grow as a person.

“I still have so much to go, but I just feel like I’m heading in the right direction.”

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