Transgender teen YouTube star Jazz Jennings discusses upcoming gender confirmation surgery
Jazz Jennings is a teenage YouTube personality, LGBTQ rights activist and star of the TLC reality series I Am Jazz. At age five, she was diagnosed with gender identity disorder, which Psychology Today defines as "strong, persistent feelings of identification with the opposite gender and discomfort with one's own assigned sex that results in significant distress or impairment." At age six, she began going on television with her family to discuss her experience growing up trans.
Jazz is only 17 years old, but has accomplished a lot, writing a memoir, starring in various documentaries and even releasing the first transgender doll. All the while, she's shared her journey with her followers, and now she's made a major decision. On June 26, she will undergo gender confirmation surgery.
"I’m going to have new genitalia," she announced in a new YouTube video. “Penis to vagina. That’s some serious shit, y’all. I am just … I can’t believe it. I’m going to have a vagina."
Jazz said she's been looking forward to this her whole life. In fact, she's wished she had a vagina since she was three years old. But although she's excited about the surgery, there is one thing she's going to miss: peeing while standing up.
"The one sad thing is — peeing stand up is so cool.I don’t think I’ve appreciated it enough to be able pee standing up … Honestly when you wake up in the morning and you’re lazy as hell and you’re tired, it’s the most convenient thing to do. I keep the toilet seat up … right when I go in I don’t have to touch all that slimy juice underneath the toilet seat. I just do it and sometimes I don’t even have to wash my hands if I don’t like touch anything."
Not all transgender people choose to get gender confirmation surgery. Some transgender people desire it, but can't afford it, or are deterred by the considerable recovery time. Other transgender people have no desire to get surgery, and can successfully transition without it.
"Gender confirmation surgery" refers to the procedures transgender people can get so that their physical body aligns with their gender. For transgender women, this may include breast augmentation or facial feminization, but the most common procedure is a vaginoplasty.
In a vaginoplasty, a vagina is constructed through penile inversion, which essentially means removing the testicles and turning the penis inside out. By doing this, the external appearance will match that of biological women, while preserving the blood flow and nerve endings for penetrative sexual stimulation. However, Jazz' vaginoplasty will be a new experimental procedure, using tissue from her stomach to from the inside of her new vagina.
Before getting surgery, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health recommends patients take certain steps. For transgender women, that includes undergoing months of psychological therapy from two therapists, which may include hormone therapy, as well as spending a year living as as a female.
As her journey continues, the enthusiastic YouTuber plans to continue to share her experiences:
"If I put out this information for people to see, they won’t need to ask any more questions. And also, it’s educational within the community as well. A lot of parents who have transgender kids are like, ‘What do I do? I don’t know much about this process.’ And seeing our show kind of helps them figure out what steps they could take to help their kids and what the journey might look like in the future."