All that Jazz?

Jazz Jennings posing with her book that was written to support transgender teens.

Fourteen-year-old Jazz Jennings became a You Tube star as she advocated for transgender rights.  Recently, Clean and Clear featured her in an online advertising campaign called “See the Real Me.”  [youtube][/youtube].

Now she is becoming the first to star in a reality TV show that focuses on the life of a transgender teen.  According to CNN, the show called “All That Jazz” will debut on TLC in the summer of 2015 and focus on Jazz and her family “dealing with typical teen drama through the lens of a transgender youth.”

I’m glad to see more shows with diverse casts that feature people in in more complex ways who are transgendered.  But, given that TLC is the same network that featured such “reality” shows as Here comes Honey Boo Boo and Toddlers and Tiaras, I am not holding my breath waiting for a thoughtful portrayal of the life of a young person who also happens to be transgendered.

If this show falls prey to the same oversimplified, one-dimensional representations of gender that some of the other TLC shows include, this leaves us with question: Is it better to have no or few representations of a person who is transgendered, or one that may have some truths to it, while overemphasizing “drama” and perhaps reinforcing some stereotypes too?

6 thoughts on “All that Jazz?

  1. What an exciting time for television! It’s always good to see progress like this. Hopefully her show brings more awareness and acceptance for transgendered teens.
    Personally, I sympathized with her when she spoke briefly on her life in middle school. Middle school is a hard time for a lot of kids because of the common cases of bullying. Anything a bully sees as different in their eyes such as Jazz being transgendered, would be attacked. It is great that she doesn’t sound shot down and is happy to be who she is. I feel that this relates to our class because it reminds me of our classroom discussions about transgendered people and it promotes acceptance for them!

  2. When I first heard that she is a representative for Clean & Clear, I was ecstatic! It was so cool to hear that a big name company was adopting the concept that is okay and that transgenders are not just something people choose to do. It is who they are. Now that she is going to get a TV show on a well-known network, that is such a big move. I understand where you are coming from with TLC creating a drama out of something that should have a better representation, and hopefully they take this route with it. The message needs to be shown that transgenders are not ‘its’ and are people who were just born in the wrong bodies and should be able to lead the lives they want. Our society’s views are changing more and more and hopefully this show helps push us forward. Also, it could help us not only create a language and pronouns to better define them, along with helping other people feel more comfortable in who they are.

  3. I really enjoy this video campaign and like that clean and clear is taking a new approach to sell their products. It seems they want people to be natural and let go of their insecurities and enjoy themselves for who they, which is a good message. I can’t imagine the ridicule this video got from some viewers thinking it is too forward or some people probably not open minded enough to have transgendered be displayed positively. I appreciate the commercial and think it serves a good message though.

  4. I just heard about this upcoming show as well! I think it is amazing that TLC has chosen to step above some other networks to feature such a controversial subject matter (especially with other networks such as Disney Channel canceling a program due to a homosexual couple being featured). I believe people who are transgendered go through obstacles that we, as a society, do not even consider. As if being a teenager isn’t hard enough, Jazz is dealing with not being able to be her true self without facing bullying. I love that Jazz is able to come out and say that she knows who she is and has been able to “be one of the girls”, making new friends and living her life as an every day teen. I am interested to see how her friends and family feel about this decision and situation, as well as how the television show will influence her life. Hopefully, this program will not only affect Jazz’s life in a positive way, but also help other teens that are going through personal identity issues. If a 14 year old teenager can make a difference this huge in our society, we can all step up and help her in her mission to bring to light and support transgender rights.

  5. When I saw this post I got extremely excited because I actually stumbled upon Jazz on YouTube last year! I was unaware of her new television show on TLC , but I am now very eager for the premier. It is refreshing to see new shows on television that are bringing light to the transgender community. I think seeing how confident this teenage girl is will help many people who are struggling with their sexual identity. Additionally, I hope this show will help educate viewers on this topic because a lot of people are judgemental since they are lacking knowledge on being transgender.

  6. I think this commercial is awesome. I have not seen this commercial or heard of this television show coming up on TLC. Either way I think the realities behind what goes on for in the life of a transgendered person is something that needs to be shared. One of the things that I like best is Jazz is a teenager. Teen years for anyone are an extremely critical time. You are always under the microscope and being judged by peers, parents, teachers not to mention you are still trying to figure out who you are. Jazz comes out by confidently saying I know who I am it just may not be the same as who I was. I would like to hope that this commercial will spread because education and exposure is the first step in a more welcoming universal society to transgendered people. Great work Clean & Clear, I think you help Jazz’s confidence more then anyone person could have. Hopefully this message will help others be supportive or even more confident in discovering or sharing who they truly are.

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