By Diane Anderson-Minshall
Originally published on Advocate.com November 26 2011 1:32 PM ET
Oprah's TV network, OWN, is premiering two new documentary specials on Sunday: Being Chaz (the follow up to Chaz Bono's award winning, Becoming Chaz, from last year) and I Am Jazz: A Family in Transition. The latter, stars Jazz, an 11-year-old transgender girl, her three siblings, friends and parents, as they navigate the world with a gender-variant kid and grapple with the possibility of hormone blocking therapy as she reaches puberty. Director Jen Stocks' doc is an engaging, heartwarming, and moving look at a trans kid. With her parent's support, Jazz has been living as a girl since she was a toddler. We caught up with her to find out about making the doc, meeting Bono, and life in middle school.
The Advocate: I love all your YouTube clips. How long have you been dancing and singing?
Jazz: Thank you. I've been singing, dancing and acting my entire life. Ever since I was about 2-years-old I would put on tutus and dance and sing around my house.
Are the other dancers in your class OK with you being transgender?
All my friends from my acting, singing, and dancing class are very accepting and understand my situation. If you watch the documentary you will see how we all enjoy what we do and hang out with each other.
You’ve said you tell people that you have a girl brain and a boy body. How do other kids react to you when you tell them that?
Most of my friends tell me that I'm the same person inside and they tell me that they still love me and are still my best friends.
When did you first realize you were a girl?
Ever since I was able to express myself, I always referred to myself as a girl. I went for the Barbies and the dresses and would avoid the boy toys. When I was 2, my mom would say, "Good boy" and I would say, "No, mommy. Good girl."
Tell me about your siblings. How helpful have your brothers and sister been?
First, I have twin brothers, Sander and Griffen, who are 13. Then, I have a sister named Ari who is almost 16. They are very supportive and protective of me. Every time somebody is whispering bad things about me, and the word gets to them, they will defend me. They go up to the person and tell them they shouldn't being saying bad things about their sister.Tell me about your best friend.
I don't necessarily pick
one over another, but all of my friends who accept me for who I am are
considered my best friends. They all treat me like any other girl.
Were you excited to share your story with the world with this documentary?
definitely excited to share my story, because I want to help other
transgender people be true to themselves. A lot of transgender kids
don't have the support of a family like I do, and I just wanted to share
that it's OK to step out of their shadows and tell their parents how
they really feel inside. So, I'm happy to tell other kids about my life
and tell them that you can still be loved if you are transgender, and
love yourself, too.
What was it like making the documentary?
was a very different experience for us, but I enjoyed every minute of
it and felt like I was doing the right thing. It's amazing to share this
journey with my family. Without them I wouldn't be the kid I am today,
so I'm glad the documentary is about all of us, not just me. I also am
thankful for our producer, Wayne [Mahon] for helping us get into a great
position to tell our story. He, and all the other producers and crew,
were so kind to us.
You used to have nightmares about growing hair.
would have nightmares that giant mustaches were chasing me, and I ran
into my mother's bed crying and saying, "I don't want hair on my face
and chest like daddy!" And she said, "Don't worry, I will always protect
you, and I won't let that happen if that is what you want."
There was a tooth fairy dream, too, right?
wasn't the tooth fairy, it was the good fairy. I remember when I was
very young, she appeared in my dream, and waved her magic wand, and said
she was going to change my penis into a vagina. When I woke up from the
dream, being all happy, I asked my mother, "When is the good fairy
going to come with her magic wand and change my penis into a vagina?" I
think that's when my parents started to realize I was special.
What’s your biggest fear right now?
of my biggest fears right now, is facing puberty. Ever since I was
younger I had nightmares about growing facial hair and having hair all
over my body. Now that the time has come where this situation might
occur, I'm getting nervous and desperate to take hormones to prevent
puberty from happening.
You started wearing girls clothes when you were like 5, right? Do you remember that?
when I was much younger than 5. I'd open my sister's closet and start
to put on her dress-up costumes and add a pair of plastic princess shoes
to match. As I got a little bit older, I began to become upset and cry
when I had to wear boy clothes to preschool. Finally, when I was 5, I
had the privilege to wear the clothes I desired. I'm so lucky that I
have two very special extraordinary parents who supported me being the
girl that I always was.
You were on the Rosie Show and got to meet Chaz Bono who is one of your idols.
was shocked to see Chaz Bono, who is one of my biggest heroes. Rosie
was so generous to give me a huge basket of art supplies. She also had
an amazing sense of humor.
Who else do you look up to?
person I idolize is my older sister, Ari. She has a great voice, and
she is so beautiful. Also, in the future, I hope to be an amazing mom,
like my mother is. I'm so proud of my family and love them so much.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
hard for me say, because I'm still young, and love to do so many
things. My favorite things are drawing, writing stories, playing soccer
and lacrosse, and I love to sing, dance, and act. I also want to help
other trans kids and inspire them. I want to make the world a better
place for them to be happy like me, so being an advocate would be good,
too. But most of all, as I would say when I was in kindergarten, "I want
to be everything!"
Being Chaz premieres Sunday, November 27 at 8 p.m., followed by I Am Jazz at 9 p.m. Times may vary by region.