Jazz Jennings understands how important representation of LGBTQ people is in the media. The 20-year-old transgender activist says it’s with more diverse characters that people begin to recognize the beauty of our differences.
“I think with increased visibility there is greater acceptance. I think there's a lot more people out there saying, ‘OK, I can identify with that character, with that person, I'm just like them,’” says Jennings, who joined Yahoo for Pride Evolution, a one-hour livestream event. “And they're able to find their true self through that process of seeing someone just like them, and they no longer feel alone and isolated in who they are. So it really does make a difference to see that representation.”
Jennings herself has frequently appeared in the media to share her story. Her mother, Jeanette Jennings, is often by her side. It’s that level of unconditional support that has encouraged the family to share their journey. In fact, Jeanette said she feels like the family has been educating the public “since day one.”
“From the moment we went on TV the first time with Barbara Walters, that was the reason we went on was to share our story with other people. To have them see that transgender children do exist, and we need to listen to them and follow their lead and love them with our hearts, because they already have a tough road ahead,” says Jeanette, citing frequent bullying and discrimination. “And I've had to tell parents along the way, and teach them, you know, parent the child that you have, not the child that you wish you had.”
She notes that it’s “really important to know that the kids are more important. It's their birthright to be loved and to be happy. And check your ego at the door and take care of them. Because that's your job as a parent.”
“She's a great mama bear,” Jazz remarks. She further praises her mothers support by explaining how it’s a demonstration of “unconditional love.”
“Those are her big two words: unconditional love. Loving your child unconditionally, loving yourself unconditionally. Just being who you are, loving that person and then sharing that love with everyone else,” explains Jazz.
Jazz’s mother also weighed in on the topic, sharing the attitude of acceptance that she consciously chose to establish with her loved ones.
“Unconditional love teaches us to accept those that we don’t know, and everybody's the same. We’re all human beings that need to be treated equally and I’ve instilled that in all my children,” says Jeanette. “She taught me the meaning of unconditional love. By being her parent, I am a better person.”
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