Why Jazz Jennings Wants to Talk About a Trans Topic That's Usually Off Limits

June 28th 2017

Almie Rose

Popular YouTuber Jazz Jennings is opening up about a very personal subject.


A post shared by Jazz Jennings (@jazzjennings_) on

Jennings, who also stars on the TLC reality show "I Am Jazz," is getting gender confirmation surgery — specifically, "Transfeminine Bottom Surgery" (or simply "bottom surgery").

What is Transfeminine Bottom Surgery?

As The American Society of Plastic Surgeons explains, the goal of the surgery "is to transform the male genitalia and reconstruct it into that of a female." There is also "Transmasculine Bottom Surgery."

Jennings, who is transgender, told Us Weekly on Tuesday, "I know a lot of trans people don't like to talk about [bottom surgery] and everyone says what is in between your legs doesn't matter and I agree, but I also think it's important to talk about."

Why is Jennings talking about it?

"Someone needs to step forward so they can see," she told the magazine. "It's rude to just ask people if they have had their bottom surgery, but I want to talk about it so people will know so they can stop asking."

It's rude to ask trans people if they've had bottom surgery.

Actress Laverne Cox explained during a 2014 interview with Katie Couric why the question is invasive and inappropriate.

"I do feel there is a preoccupation with [surgery]," Cox said. "The preoccupation with transition and surgery objectifies trans people. And then we don’t get to really deal with the real lived experiences."

Those experiences being, "The reality of trans people’s lives is that so often we are targets of violence. We experience discrimination disproportionately to the rest of the community. Our unemployment rate is twice the national average; if you are a trans person of color, that rate is four times the national average. The homicide rate is highest among trans women. If we focus on transition, we don’t actually get to talk about those things."

Not every trans person elects to undergo bottom surgery.

Plastic surgeon Rachel Bluebond-Langner, M.D., told Women's Health, "For many patients, surgery completes the transition process where the body’s external phenotype is aligned with the person’s internal sense of self. It’s not the treatment for every patient, but it is the treatment for many patients." However, that's not the case for everyone. Some people also wrongly assume that if a person hasn't had the surgery, they're not a "real" man or woman. As Mitch Kellaway, a transgender man, wrote for The Huffington Post, "being a man is so much more before and beyond what’s in one’s pants." The same goes for being a woman.

Jennings is deciding to make her decision public, but not every trans person does.

As with any bodily-related issue, it's a private decision for the individual to make and decide to discuss. And it's not taken lightly. As Bluebond-Langner told Women's Health, for those who decide to do so, "these are life-changing, live-saving procedures."