I Am Jazz: Boy Trouble

Photo: Courtesy of TLC.
In its second week, I Am Jazz continued to do a great job of mixing the relatability of Jazz's journey from eighth grader to high schooler and the unique challenges she faces as a transgender teen. Her stress about high school seemed to boil down to anxiety over how she would be treated by the opposite sex. While the show's premiere discussed her past struggles of growing up transgender in vague generalities, this time was different. Jazz quickly told a story to the cameras that explains why she was so worried about how she'd be treated by high school guys: A boy had had a crush on her in the past, but when he learned that she is transgender he began calling her "chick with a dick."

Her anxiety reached a peek when her girlfriends decided to invite boys (it's unclear if they had specific classmates in mind or were hoping to round some up loitering around a Hollister) on a bowling trip. When only two showed up, Jazz worried it was because of her. When one of the guys was pressed about the reason for the poor male turnout, he did admit one chose not to attend because of Jazz. When Jazz vented her frustration over her inability to be accepted by boys to her friends, they encouraged her to put herself out there, pointing out that, at least in eighth grade, boys are never going to come to you. You can see the obvious strain on their faces as they try to believe that anyone's worry over boys could be worse than their own. They dance around it, trying to make their friend feel better, but the underlying message is clear-as an eighth grade girl stressing out about boys: You're not unique in the slightest.

When it comes to her future on the high school soccer team, things got even more complicated. Attending a conditioning session with the high school girls, Jazz asked, hopefully, will people be more mature, more accepting in high school? The girls' faces were priceless, obviously debating exactly how to break the news to her. They went with being blunt, with one player explaining, "High school is like wildfire. No one cares about your feelings." They did explain that a player's "soccer family" protects her, but she seemed to take little comfort in the idea that she'd need protection.

Out to lunch with her mom, Jazz worried that her lack of suitors might not be because she's transgender, but something more fundamental. When her mom pointed out her lack of crushes she explained: "I just want to be loved." It's a heartbreaking moment because it could be spoken by literally any teenager. Being transgender is a large, looming and sometimes isolating problem that carries the very real threat of violence, but as a teenage girl it's really just one of the struggles Jazz is facing. It seems like her biggest challenge might be realizing how much she does have in common with her girlfriends so they can lean on each other, through sports try-outs and encounters with jerky guys.
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