For queer-rights activist Jazz Jennings, the meaning of equality is simple: It’s when everyone has the right to exist freely.
And on the occasion of Gay Pride month — which is every June, but particularly special this year, as it marks 50 years since the Stonewall uprising, which kicked off the official LGBTQ-rights movement — Jennings has a message: “Now more than ever, we need to continue to use our voices to create positive change, to show that we exist, we’re here, and that we deserve to exist freely.”
Jennings is beloved in the LGBTQ community, unique for being among its youngest activist voices and for sharing her story of being a transgender youth on the TLC series I Am Jazz.
Jennings started questioning her gender identity at the age of 2. “As soon as I could express myself, I have always known that I was a girl, even though I was born biologically male,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle. She considers herself lucky to have had the love and support of her family, who allowed her identity to blossom. It’s a fortune that she knows many transgender youth have not experienced.
With passion so strong it makes her voice shake, Jennings says, “We’re not going to stop fighting for our rights until all people are able to be their true authentic selves without being judged, without the murder, without the violence.” Since 2015, an average of 24 transgender women, mostly women of color, have been murdered, according to the Human Rights Campaign; already, in 2019, 10 transgender women have died.
“It’s just sad that we live in a world where people are being killed just for being who they are,” Jennings says, recalling the many times that she didn’t feel comfortable in her own skin, and that she didn’t have the right to be confident in who she was. “Over time, I’ve learned that I am beautiful, my skin is me, this is who I am.”
To celebrate her life-long journey towards embracing the skin she’s in, Jennings recently teamed up with Venus for its #MySkinMyWay campaign, and says that her chance to have a platform that shares such an inclusive message means a lot to her.
For Pride this year, Jennings is encouraging those in the community to continue sharing messages of love and acceptance.
“We’re all diverse, we’re all unique and we just have to embrace and accept each other for our uniqueness,” she says, noting how, in her heart, she believes we will eventually arrive at the end of the road of true equality, step by step. “But we still have a long way to go.”