Book Reviews / Food for Thought

Book Review: Being Jazz

Being Jazz, Jazz Jennings’ memoir of growing up transgender, has the power to make a massive difference in the world.  Between her TLC reality show and activism, she has already made huge strides in bringing transgender issues to light and educating the country.  Unfortunately, I was not a fan of this book.  Jazz wrote it as a 14/15 year old and it read like a 14 year old wrote it…maybe even less elevated than that.  When I read a sentence that her friends “could care less” about her being transgender, I wanted to scream.  COULDN’T care less.  Come on, editors.

Beyond the writing itself, I thought Jennings could have gone a bit deeper into life as someone who is trans.  Though she notes that it’s entirely improper to ask a transgender person about their surgeries or lack thereof, it would be helpful to understand what the surgical options are or how people make those decisions.  She did a good job explaining the types of hormone blockers, but that was kind of where it ended.  There was more talk about how much she likes mermaids and wanted to start a mermaid tail business than about trans-specific things.  Sorry, but I didn’t really need to know the intricate details of how to construct a life-size mermaid tail.  I get it.  The goal is to write a memoir about her life as a transgender teen and trying to show that she’s a real teen who happens to be trans…but let’s face it, you’re reading this because you want to know more about the trans part.

While it was good – and important – to understand the struggles of transgender youth, a major reason why such discrimination exists is because people don’t understand the specifics, particularly when it comes to the medical and psychological aspects of transgender life.  I get why it is uncomfortable and even inappropriate to discuss those things; but unfortunately, it is also tough for many people to accept without a full understanding of what goes on.  That may not be right, but it’s the reality for many people.  Jennings has a platform to educate people on all aspects of transgender life, and with education comes understanding.

2 out of 5 stars.

being jazz

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