A 14-year-old who was diagnosed with gender identity disorder at just three years of age has spoken out about how difficult she finds dating, saying some cruel boys even refer to her as ‘it’.
Jazz Jennings, who was born male but does not want to reveal her birth name, opened up about liking boys but admitted the opposite sex won’t talk to her.
The teen, from Florida, said: “I like some boys in my class at school but no one likes me back.
“It upsets me, I worry it’s because I’m not pretty. But my friends tell me I’m attractive.
“My friends started chatting about boys they fancied but Mum warned me not to join in, in case I was teased.
“She thinks I need to wait until I’m older to start thinking about relationships.
“But I know one day I’ll find someone who likes me for who I am.”
Now Jazz is paying attention to boys, her mum Jeanette, 48, is conscious for her safety.
She said: “I do worry now she's getting older. I've told her if she ever goes on a date she needs to tell the boy beforehand.
“I'm worried someone could turn on her, maybe even attack her if they found out further down the line.
“I won’t let Jazz go to other people’s houses if the whole family isn’t aware of the situation.”
Longing to be a girl
Jazz, who has twin older brothers, Sander and Griffin, both 16, and a sister Ari, 19, has “longed to be a girl” from ever since she can remember and never referred to herself as a boy.
She said: “Mum tells me that even as a two-year-old when she praised me for being a good boy, I’d correct her saying, ‘I’m a good girl.’
“As a toddler I wanted to wear girls’ clothes and I’d play with Ari’s dolls.
“When I was two, Mum says I asked when the fairy was going to come with a magic wand and take away my penis.”
Jeanette and her husband, Greg, 47, realised it was not a phase and went to a paediatrician for advice.
Jazz said: “The doctor showed me male and female dolls and asked me to point to which one I was. Straight away, I pointed to the female doll. I was the youngest patient the paediatrician had seen.”
They advised Jeanette to follow Jazz’s lead but not to encourage her.
But she was still adamant she was a girl and when she came in from nursery she would change into one of her sister's dresses or her favourite fairy outfit.
Aged three, Jazz was diagnosed with gender identity disorder after tests and counselling.
Following her diagnosis, she gradually transitioned and started living as a girl full-time aged five.
She said: “I grew my hair, had my ears pierced and wore dresses. I felt so happy.
“My brothers and sisters accepted it and even though my dad struggled at first, both my parents were really supportive.”
But while her family were happy with her transition, there were pupils at her school who were less understanding.
Jazz said: “Some children asked why I was dressed like a girl when I was born a boy. I’d say I felt as though I’d been born in the wrong body.
“But at lunchtime some of the girls wouldn’t sit with me and some of the boys even called me ‘it’. When I got home I’d cry.
“I wasn’t allowed to use the boys’ or girls’ toilets, I had to go to the nurse’s office to use the bathroom. I felt so isolated.”
But she refused to let bullies get the better of her.
“By the time I was 10, almost everyone in school knew I was transgender,” she explained.
“I had a close group of girl friends who would stand by me, and the older I got, the more comfortable I became, so I tried not to let the bullies upset me.”
When Jazz started approaching puberty, she was anxious about nature taking its course.
She said: “I had nightmares about growing facial hair and I hated the thought of my voice dropping and my body becoming more masculine.”
Aged 11, she was prescribed hormone blockers to stop the production of testosterone, so she would not go through male puberty.
“It was such a relief,” she said.
“The hormone blockers are reversible, so if I come off them I’ll go through male puberty.
“But there’s no way that’s happening - I’m too happy as a girl.
“I love experimenting with different hair styles and going clothes shopping.”
Although she does not get attention from boys at school, she gets messages from others across the globe.
She said: “A lot of straight and transgender boys get in touch with me through my website and social media.
“They tell me I’m inspirational and beautiful. It boosts my self-esteem.”
Jazz hopes to settle down with a family one day but currently she’s using her experience to help others through the transition.
She has founded the TransKids Purple Rainbow Foundation and written a book, I Am Jazz, about being diagnosed with gender identity disorder.
She is an advocate of transgender rights and has spoken at schools, hospitals and universities on the subject.
She said: “I want to show people they don’t have to be scared of being different.
“I hope to stop discrimination against young transgender people.”
Jazz says the full gender reassignment surgery she is planning after she turns 18 will help her transition feel complete.
She said: “The hardest part of being transgender is still having male genitalia. It reminds me I wasn’t born in a female body.
“I used to struggle with my self-esteem. But now I’m happy with who I am.”
Although Jazz’s mum and dad were worried about Jazz’s behaviour at the start, since her diagnosis aged three they have been supportive throughout.
Jeanette said: “We’re so proud of her. We listened to Jazz and let her be the person she wanted to be.
“It was hard at first, but we saw how much happier she was living as a girl.
“Sometimes I mourn the loss of the idea of my son. But there’s a wonderful person with us now and Jazz knows how special she is.”