Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen by Jazz Jennings [in School Library Journal]
As today’s most prominent transgender teen, Jennings stepped into the national spotlight in 2007 at the age of 6 in a televised interview with Barbara Walters. In the almost-decade since, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) – psychology/psychiatry’s bible for identifying mental disorders – has revised the entry for Gender Identity Disorder, replacing GID with “gender dysphoria,” explaining that “gender nonconformity is not in itself a mental disorder.”
Being transgender is not an illness, as Jennings shows in her memoir of her first 15 years. She voiced her gender identity at 2, began transitioning – with the unwavering support of her family – at 5, and has since become an activist, YouTube personality, reality TV star, and was named one of Time magazine’s “25 Most Influential Teens” of 2014.
Already the co-author of a picture book – I Am Jazz (2015) co-written with Jessica Herthel – Jennings has matured literally on the page with this next installment of her young life. Jennings, of course, is the obvious narrator for her own story, enhancing the recording with excitement, impatience, tenacity, and plenty of bubbly charm.
Verdict: With the increasing public awareness of transgender rights, every library should acquire all versions of Jazz as a crucial PSA.
Review: modified from “Multimedia,” School Library Journal, September 1, 2016
Readers: Middle Grade, Young Adult