Jazz Jennings Gives a Voice to Neglected Trans Youth

by March 30, 2015
filed under Activism
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Jazz Jennings was assigned male at birth and began expressing to her parents that she was a girl at 2 years old. With the support of her family, she transitioned and appeared on television at 6 years old. Since then, Jazz has appeared on shows like 20/20 and even co-wrote a children’s book, I Am Jazz, about her life as a transgendered girl. Now, 14 year old Jazz is a Clean and Clear spokesmodel for their campaign #SeetheRealMe. In the campaign, she describes the transphobia she’s encountered and how she has found happiness and acceptance. Her presence in mainstream media gives a much-needed voice to the trans community, especially for trans girls.

The trans community is starting to become more present in mainstream media, with Laverne Cox from Orange is the New Black acting and speaking about her experiences and the popularity of Transparent, which focuses on a father who reveals that she identifies as a woman. Despite these steps toward change, the younger trans community has been neglected. Jazz’s presence on television will shed light on the often hidden young trans community, as she’s one of the youngest people ever to be diagnosed with gender dysphoria and it’s important for young trans people to know that they’re not alone and can find comfort in other people just like them.

Sometimes it seems that trans women are only featured in mainstream media as a result of negative circumstances: Murders, exclusion in society and so on. The trans community is a beautiful, accepting one, and it should be acknowledged as such. They face many hardships, but instead of reporting only on the negative, media sources should also focus on change and acceptance. Jazz’s inspirational message and genuine concern for others is something needed in today’s society, especially for trans women around the world. Her presence in commercials will show other trans girls and women that they too can be represented, just as they deserve.

Clean and Clear is a highly advertised company – their television commercials can be seen both nationally and internationally. Although trans women like Laverne Cox have a media presence, Orange is the New Black and other outlets showing trans women are mainly shows and movies, not advertisements. Commercials, especially Clean and Clear’s, can be seen everywhere. Jazz’s presence on websites and on frequent television commercials can really raise awareness and acceptance for the trans community. Clean and Clear’s decision to make Jazz a spokesmodel has already created buzz and her media presence hopefully will create even more.

Representation in media is important because it encourages people, especially children and adolescents, and gives them a sense of identity. Often, the representation of certain groups in mainstream media can be misconstrued, which could be really discouraging to those of that group. Young trans people might be discouraged without proper representation, but thankfully Jazz’s campaign with Clean and Clear will be taking a step toward proper representation of trans girls. Everyone could learn a thing or two from Jazz’s message of being who you are unapologetically. Jazz is going to make changes in the media that girls everywhere can be proud of.

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