Skip to main content

Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen


Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen

BEING JAZZ: My Life As a (Transgender) Teen, by 15-year-old Jazz Jennings, stresses the importance of being your authentic self, no matter what society decides is “normal.” Jazz tells the story of her transition starting at a very young age, including all of the challenges she had to overcome to become the confident advocate for the transgender community that she is today. Her strong voice shines through in this memoir and it is clear why she is an inspiration to so many people around the globe.

“Conversational and fun….Jazz tells her story impressively well for a young person and shows a maturity beyond her years.”

Jazz describes how she and her family navigated her school system from preschool to high school including dress codes, bathroom usage policies and many more facets of everyday life that most people take for granted. Jazz and her family never gave up, and her dad ass even successful at letting her be allowed to play on an all girls’ soccer team after a lengthy process to create policy changes. They never accept “no” as an answer, which results in Jazz paving pathways for other transgender children and teens.
I really appreciated how Jazz infused comedy into her life story by describing the Facebook message exchanges with her first boyfriend and detailing all of the awkward moments of their movie dates. Her tales from her summer camp for transgender and gender-nonconforming kids were also very engaging. Additionally, she writes about all of her teenage drama and fights with friends that are typical of middle and high school students. While parts of her story are particularly about being transgender, it is clear that Jazz is like any other teenage girl.
It is important to keep in mind that this book is written by Jazz herself, so she does write like a 15-year-old. She does a little too much telling and not enough showing. I wish she went more in-depth in each of her stories and transitioned between them more smoothly, but overall the book is conversational and fun, always keeping my interest. It reads like a friend telling you about their life, and by the end of the book, I really felt like I knew Jazz and appreciated her strength and sense of determination.
The book’s strengths are Jazz’s honesty and how she welcomes readers into her personal life to share both the good and the bad times she has gone through. She also introduces what being transgender means in a very simple way that readers of any age will be able to understand. Despite a little lack of refinement in writing style that will come to her in time, she is able to clearly tell her story in a way that resonated with me.

I recommend this book to all, and I think it would be especially relatable for teens. It is a quick but important read, and while Jazz's story is not representative of the experiences of everyone in the transgender community, it is still worthwhile to read her difficulties, successes, and hopefully better understand what it is like to live in her shoes. Jazz tells her story impressively well for a young person and shows a maturity beyond her years. Ultimately, BEING JAZZ is a simple, enjoyable memoir that everyone should read if they get the chance.

Reviewed by Chrissy Bentlyewski on June 20, 2016

Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen
by Jazz Jennings

  • Publication Date: June 27, 2017
  • Genres: Nonfiction, Young Adult 12+
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Ember
  • ISBN-10: 039955467X
  • ISBN-13: 9780399554674