If you’ve been around Transphobe Youtube lately you’d see that people have been all aflutter about a clip from the I Am Jazz show.
I Am Jazz is a TLC reality show about a young trans woman named Jazz Jennings. Jennings, who is AMAB, transitioned when she was only five years old.
Jennings is very much an average young woman, albeit one who got into Harvard. I remember when I first saw previews for her show when she was in her early teens. I didn’t know exactly why TLC was devoting a show to her. She didn’t seem very interesting. Was she related to the Kardashians or something?
It was only when I looked her up online that I saw she was trans. Jennings is seen as the Platonic ideal of the trans woman. She was put on puberty blockers early so she is not only passable as a woman it’s kind of impossible to see her as any gender other than female.
Anyway Jennings is inspirational because not only is she trans and beautiful, she’s also very psychologically healthy, wholesome and smart (again, Harvard student).
Jennings defies every ugly stereotype of trans teens being suicidal, lazy and suffering from social media poisoning.
That’s why transphobes were gleeful when a clip surfaced from the latest episode of I Am Jazz. It showed Jazz crying to her mother about how “I just want to feel like myself. All I want is to be happy and feel like me, and I don’t feel like me, ever.”
It’s kind of a cringey scene. Jazz and her mom are talking and the acting is soap-opera level bad. Jazz is crying but no tears are coming out of her eyes. Her mother is using daytime TV platitudes like “You’re your own worst enemy.” It all feels very scripted.
Here the thing, as anyone who has ever worked on reality TV can tell you, a lot of what is presented as “real” on reality shows is usually written before being filmed.
Yes, I believe Jazz Jennings is real and her family is real but a lot of what is presented of Jazz’s life on TLC is dramatized. Scenes are hashed out beforehand by producers. I do think producers on I Am Jazz were trying to draw in younger viewers by having Jennings talk about her mental health problems in very vague ways. “The kids today are all anxious and upset and too addicted to screens. We need Jennings to connect to them in a scene where she says she’s unhappy in a vague way and it’s because of mental health etc.”
The artificiality of Jennings’ “breakdown” is sort of emphasized by TLC cutting from Jennings’ tear-free crying to a clearly-composed Jennings in full make-up talking calmly to the camera. “I feel kind of all over the place and like my mind is very cluttered,” Jennings says as if she’s giving the weather report, “I really want to have that clarity. I really want to understand myself and be able to read my own soul and what I want and it’s just very challenging and I think I’m kind of breaking down a little bit and spiraling into negativity.”
Sounds incredibly generic. ChatGPT couldn’t deliver a more vague description of “this what the young people are feeling these days, right?”
Of course the transphobes are pretending Jennings’ reality show is the gospel truth and Jennings’ badly-written depression is a totally real example of pre-suicidal ideation.
Matt Walsh delivered a characteristically misogynistic tirade against Jennings’ mother. Walsh consistently migendered Jennins and said, without proof, that Jennings longs to be the boy she was not allowed to be. Jennings has been mutilated and betrayed by her family etc. etc.
BTW, I will admit that Jennings’ mother has said some REALLY problematic things in the past, including at one point apparently threatening to rape her daughter with her daughter’s dilater. So I’m not letting Jennings’ mom off the hook here.
But I’m not gonna let Walsh and his fellow transphobes go wild on the Jennings family either.
Before I go further, I should say that I am a huge TERF. Or rather, more like a STEF, a “Some Trans-Exclusionary Feminist.”
I do believe in the basic rights and dignity of trans folk. I believe trans people exist. I also believe that there is too much misogyny in the trans rights movement, that women should not be bullied to make space for people with penises who clearly do not belong in women’s spaces, and that women should not be erased from healthcare. I also believe that Gender ID laws need to be tightened up. Men cannot just declare themselves women and expect to be allowed into women’s spaces at the drop of a hat.
I think JK Rowling is a rockstar, biological sex is real, and misogyny does not disappear just because the misogynist changed pronouns.
But I also think it’s disgusting when people like Matt Walsh deliberately misgender Jazz Jennings, deadname trans people and elevate badly-behaving trans folks just to smear the trans community in general.
So yeah, just call me STEF.
Anyway, Jazz Jennings has spoken publicly about her mental health. It’s clear she has a binge eating disorder and is sometimes overwhelmed…. which is average for most young women her age.
Still, it’s dumb to portray a clearly-scripted “crying” scene on a reality TV show as “proof” that trans people are all just victims of a medical-industrial complex intent on turning gay men into straight women etc. etc.
I know it’s hard to tell transphobes to chill on anything but I’m gonna put it out there anyway. Transphobes need to chill on that Jazz Jennings clip.
It’s not real, it’s reality TV. In other words, it’s fake.