'I Am Jazz' Star to Have Gender Reassignment Surgery on Anniversary of Gay Marriage Ruling
Jazz Jennings, the 17-year-old boy who identifies as a girl and has been a transgender celebrity since 2007, announced he would have "gender confirmation surgery" on the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage in 2015.
Jennings announced on YouTube that his surgery will take place on June 26, the third anniversary of the decision. He announced that his male genitals would be removed and replaced with a "vagina" constructed from them — and partially from his stomach tissue.
"I am so looking forward to it," Jennings said. "I'm gonna have new genitalia, like penis to vagina. That's some serious sh*t, y'all."
Especially in this young man's case, the surgery isn't quite that simple. Even if swapping the male sex organ for the female one weren't that big a challenge, Jennings' case would still require something abnormal — taking tissue from his stomach and turning it into a vagina.
Jennings was diagnosed with gender dysphoria (the persistent condition of identifying with the gender opposite one's biological sex) at age four, and his parents started treating him as a girl in social settings at age five. His first public appearance came before he was ten — an interview with Barbara Walters in 2007. Then came a documentary in 2011, a book called "I Am Jazz" in 2014, a television show of the same name starting the following year, and another book in 2016.
The two books are marketed to children and promoted in schools as evidence that transgender identity is normal. Even for transgender people, however, Jennings is abnormal in at least one respect.
"Because I started the blocker so early, I never went through puberty," Jennings explained. "I didn't develop as a male, like get a beard, mustache, deep voice..." but that also meant a lack of growth in his nether regions.
"I didn't have growth in that region and because there was a lack of tissue, they really didn't have enough material to construct the entire vagina, so they're using a special procedure where they extract by peritoneal lining ... a thin membrane that surrounds the stomach," the transgender celebrity said. He admitted that this procedure is "experimental."
"It's a little concerning because something could go wrong," the star added.
Jennings is right to be concerned. Not only are medical complications from such an invasive procedure common, but as recently as 2004 The Guardian published a review of multiple medical studies finding that there is no conclusive proof that sex change operations improve the lives of transgender people.