LGBTQ South Florida

Trans teen Jazz Jennings cited by Time, named Voice for Equality by Equality Florida

Jazz Jennings, flanked by her mother Jeanette and Jessica Herthel, who co-wrote ‘I Am Jazz’ with the teen at a June 2014 book reading at Care Resource in Oakland Park.
Jazz Jennings, flanked by her mother Jeanette and Jessica Herthel, who co-wrote ‘I Am Jazz’ with the teen at a June 2014 book reading at Care Resource in Oakland Park. Miami Herald Staff

Jazz Jennings, who at 14 already has become a nationally known transgender activist and author, this week achieved two new honors: Time magazine named her to the 2014 list of 25 Most Influential Teens and Equality Florida will present her with its Voice for Equality award.

“It’s very surreal to see your child featured in Time magazine, especially as one of the most influential teens in the world,” said Jazz’s mom, Jeanette. The family lives in South Florida but doesn’t say exactly where to protect Jazz’s privacy.

On the Time list with Jazz: the Obama daughters, Sasha, 13, and Malia, 16; Kylie, 17, and Kendall Jenner, 18; Vine song sensation Shawn Mendes, 16; and Malala Yousafzai, 17, who this week also won the Nobel Peace Prize.

“With Time magazine, she was screeching, ‘Oh my goodness! I’m on the list with Malala!’ She felt the company she was with, she was not worthy,” Jeanette said. “But she is worthy. To be compared in the same list as these people, it’s extremely overwhelming for her and she feels so flattered.”

Jazz first attracted attention at age 6 in 2007 after Barbara Walters interviewed her for ABC News’ 20/20. Since then, she has become a hero in the LGBT rights movement . Earlier this year, she co-wrote with Jessica Herthel a children’s book, I Am Jazz, about her experiences as a transgender girl.

“I wrote this book so we could help educate other transgender youth and families that it is OK to be different,” Jazz told the Miami Herald after a Broward County book reading in June. “It’s not just geared to LGBTQ people, but for everyone who is unique. And hopefully it can make a huge impact in letting everyone know that they have to accept each other because we’re all part of the same society.”

Jazz will receive her Voice for Equality award on Nov. 16 at the 12th annual Equality Florida Broward Gala at the Hyatt Regency Pier Sixty-Six in Fort Lauderdale.

“This amazing young woman inspires us all with her courage and candor, demonstrating what is possible when we share our stories,” Equality Florida Deputy Director Stratton Pollitzer said in a statement. “We are proud to recognize her for the impact she already has made on the lives of transgender youth and their families here in Broward County and across the nation.”

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