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Before Caitlyn Jenner’s very public transition this year, the actress Laverne Cox was the first transgender person to grace the cover of Time magazine in May 2014 with the headline ‘The Transgender Tipping Point’, suggesting that Cox’s success as both an actress and activist symbolised a new acceptance of trans people. Jazz and her family are the subject of a fly-on-the-wall series, I Am Jazz, documenting her life as a transgender teenager.
Brit author Lisa Williamson’s novel The Art of Being Normal – about a teenage schoolboy who wants to be a girl – has been hailed as one of the young adult books of the year, and next month the BBC will broadcast Boy Meets Girl, the UK’s first transgender sitcom. ‘I think I’ve had it easy, because I’ve had support right from the start,’ she said For Jazz herself, there were everyday challenges, too.
Along with an estimated 500,000 people – male and female –in the UK, Jazz has body dysphoria – what used to be called gender identity disorder: the belief that there is a mismatch between your biological sex and your gender identity.
‘The topic of being transgender is definitely at the forefront of the civil rights movement...
Unfortunately, this is a defense that can still be used in 49 states.
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She’ll need to take oestrogen for the rest of her life, even if she opts to have gender reassignment surgery. S., such surgery is open only to people over the age of 18, and many campaigners, such as Laverne Cox, refuse to answer questions on the topic, not wishing to encourage a narrow focus on genitalia.‘People say I’m courageous and brave for being my authentic self, but I applaud the people who are really struggling, who get bullied, who face judgment from society, and still find the drive to keep moving forward – that’s true bravery and courageousness.’Sexual orientation is different to gender identity.
Dating as a person who is transgender can feel nearly impossible.
When you're a transgender person in the dating world, you always need to "out" yourself to potential relationship interests at some point during the process, and not doing so prior to the first date can be tragic and deadly — Trans panic is so real that, in 2014, California enacted the first law in the US eliminating the "panic defense." This defense allows defendants in murder cases to plea down to a lesser manslaughter charge if the defendant claimed that he was so shocked to find out his victim was gay or transgender that the sudden "heat of passion" caused him to lash out.
Jazz has her own You Tube channel on which she posts videos discussing everything from craft projects to navigating the choppy waters of high school, and which has had almost five million views to date.‘She was very confident and articulate and, even then, very proud of being transgender,’ Jeanette, 49, tells me, as Jazz twirls around in an egg-shaped velvet swing seat in the hotel picture window with a view towards Central Park.
The same year, Jeanette and Greg, 47, started the Trans Kids Purple Rainbow Foundation – of which Jazz is also an honorary co-founder – to help transgender children and their families by spreading a message of tolerance, acceptance and unconditional love. My parents were told to embrace me for who I am,’ she says.