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Jazz Jennings on embracing her body and uplifting the trans community

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Jazz Jennings has spent most of her life in front of the camera, sharing her story as a transgender teenager on the show, I am Jazz. From her mental health to medical appointments, Jennings has remained open about her struggles along the way, and in the upcoming 7th season, the LGBTQ+ activist gets candid about her weight.

Last summer, Jennings posted a photo wearing a swimsuit on the beach, after doctors suggested that she lose weight before having a medical procedure. “That moment last year was really important because I was showing my from the surgery — the gender confirmation surgery. Because I had to undergo a special surgery, they had to use extra skin graphs, so in most people don't have scars like that, but because of my special surgery, I have those scars and I'm proud of them.”

Though Jennings has gained weight since taking that photo, she assures fans that her focus on weight loss has little to do with vanity. She remains committed to living and eating better for her health, not her size. “I love myself and my body every shape and size that I am. You know, even being a bigger girl now, I still love my body and I love being me,” says Jennings.

Now 20, Jennings is ready to tackle her next challenge. After taking some time off after high school, Jennings is excited to start college and embark on a new chapter in her life — dating. Identifying as pansexual, Jennings says that the only thing she is looking for in a potential partner is authenticity. “I look at a person's soul and energy rather than their exterior shell. I think the body is just a vessel and that a person's core lies within, and I'm just more attracted to a person who has a beautiful soul. So whether they're transgender, cisgender non-binary, whatever their religion, sex orientation is, it doesn't really matter to me. I just love a person for being them," says Jennings.

Video Transcript

JAZZ JENNINGS: No one should have to go through puberty of the opposite sex and feel trapped in the wrong body. If I wasn't able to get the medical care that I needed, then I don't even know if I would be alive today, to be honest.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

BRITTANY JONES-COOPER: Hey, everyone. Welcome to "Unmuted." I'm Brittany Jones-Cooper, and joining me today is LGBTQ-plus activist Jazz Jennings. You were really introduced to the world, your story, on your show "I Am Jazz," which I heard was just picked up for a seventh season. How does it feel that you get to continue this journey?

JAZZ JENNINGS: I mean, it's incredible how far we've come with this show. We wanted to really create an atmosphere where trans people could be accepted for who they are. To be able to see that our show has been able to create that change is incredible, and to be able to continue working on a project that creates that difference, it means a lot to me, it means a lot to my family, and it means a lot to everyone involved in the project.

BRITTANY JONES-COOPER: You know, you have changed so many lives just by being you and sharing your story. And last year, you posted a photo on the beach wearing a swimsuit, and you looked beautiful. Why was that moment last year so big for you?

JAZZ JENNINGS: That moment last year was really important because I was showing my scars from the surgery that I had gotten, the gender confirmation surgery. It's really hard because I've gained a lot of weight since that photo, but I love myself and my body, every shape and size that I am. You know, even being a bigger girl now, I still love my body and I love being me. Because I had to undergo a special surgery, they had to use extra skin grafts. So most people don't have scars like that, but because of my special surgery, I have those scars and I'm proud of them.

I love them, and I think they make my body beautiful just the way it is.

BRITTANY JONES-COOPER: I agree. You are beautiful just the way you are. And on the topic of dating, I know that you identify as pansexual. And I think it's really important for those who are unfamiliar, what does that mean for you?

JAZZ JENNINGS: It just means that I look at a person's soul and energy rather than their exterior shell. I think the body is just a vessel and that a person's core lies within, and I'm just more attracted to a person who has a beautiful soul. So whether they're transgender, cisgender, non-binary, it doesn't really matter to me. I just love a person for being them. I'm not really dating right now, not yet. But I think once I go off to college, I'll probably start dating then.

It really keeps my options open being pansexual because it means I could love anybody really.

BRITTANY JONES-COOPER: Absolutely. Love is love, and during Pride Month, that is something that we all need to remember and spread. There are also bills in 21 states threatening trans-supportive medical care. How crucial is this support to the physical and mental well-being of a trans person?

JAZZ JENNINGS: The medical bills are really, really concerning because this is kind of life-or-death for a lot of transgender people. These medical surgeries, and procedures, and medications are so needed, otherwise we have to experience puberty of the opposite sex, and that just creates more dysphoria and more feelings of depression. And it's really, really hard knowing that these life-saving medications, procedures, and surgeries are being banned in certain states. I just want the community to know that it may seem like, you know, the whole world is coming down on us with all these medical and sports bills and bans, but we have to keep just pushing forward and remain united in love, because that's what our movement is all about. It's all about love. So we're on the right side of history, and we just got to continue pushing forward with love in our hearts.

BRITTANY JONES-COOPER: Well, your activism is so needed. Thank you for continuing to be a leader in this conversation.

JAZZ JENNINGS: Always. Thanks for having me.