Time magazine has apparently passed “the transgender tipping point,” to use a phrase from its Laverne Cox cover — it has included the best-known transgender teen in America in a nationwide competition of its own creation.
The magazine has placed 14-year-old Jazz on its list of the 25 Most Influential Teens of 2014, published online Monday, and readers will choose the single most influential teen from that list.
“In a landmark year for transgender visibility in the media, [Jazz] stands out for how much she’s already accomplished,” Time writes. “She’s been interviewed by Barbara Walters, met Bill Clinton and become the youngest person ever featured on the Out 100 and The Advocate’s 40 Under 40 list.”
Jazz has been living as a girl for nine of her 14 years. Her parents say Jazz, assigned male at birth, was diagnosed with gender dysphoria (then called gender identity disorder) as early as age 3. Parents Greg and Jeanette, who have declined to provide their last names or hometown out of concern for their family’s safety, have not been shy in explaining how they came to accept that their son was really their daughter. They have told her story on television several times since 2007 and starred with her in a documentary, I Am Jazz: A Family in Transition, which debuted on OWN in 2011. Jazz has even cowritten a children’s book with Jessica Herthel. Jazz calls the book, also titled I Am Jazz, her way of explaining what it’s like to have “a girl brain but a boy body” and how her family came to understand her need to identify as a girl.
Time received much criticism this year for excluding Emmy-nominated actress Laverne Cox from its Time 100 list but subsequently featured her in a cover story. Some observers see the magazine as making amends to transgender people. It undoubtedly has stepped up its acknowledgment of transgender lives, a process that continues with Jazz’s nomination.
Now Time readers get to decide if Jazz is more influential than any of the 24 other teenagers they’ve chosen for this honor. She has some pretty stiff competition, including Malala Yousafzai, just named the youngest-ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. The voting is online here.