Jazz Jennings, the star of I Am Jazz on TLC, will be sharing her gender confirmation surgery experience on season 5 of her hit reality show. Ahead of the season premiere, Jazz spoke about the surgery complications she was faced with, continuing to handle her transition in the public eye with honesty and openness.
For tonight’s season premiere episode, the description reads “Jazz prepares for a final weigh-in for her gender confirmation surgery; Dr. Bowers shocks Greg and Jeanette with changes to the surgical plan; Jazz and her friends head out for a night of fun at prom, but it turns into a nightmare.” This description, along with the press and promo that has been released thus far for the season, shows that the surgery will be a prominent plot point in the show. Which makes sense, since Jazz told ABC News that the surgery was “really the last thing that will validate my identity as a woman. There is nothing else after this. I just get to be myself, be in the body that I’ve always wanted. And then I can live my life as just Jazz.”
In an interview with Nightline‘s Juju Chang for ABC News, Jazz discussed the complications associated with her surgery. She said that before the surgery, her doctor asked her to lose 30 pounds. She then had a hard time finding surgeons who were willing to perform the gender confirmation surgery because she was “such a difficult case.”
The difficulty she says was due to the hormone blockers and hormone therapy she started when she was eleven. Of that complication, she said “being on the blockers is something that I don’t regret at all. But the only, you know, downside to it was that I didn’t have enough growth down below. So there wasn’t enough tissue to work with when it came to the surgery.” To solve that problem, she and her family found surgeons who would be able to use a “brand new, groundbreaking technique:” “They’re using the tissue I have, the peritoneum, and also, they may take a skin graft as well.” She joked, “I say it’s going to be like a patchwork vagina, Franken-vagina. So yeah, as long as it’s functional, that’s all that matters.”
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, transfeminine bottom surgery is “typically performed as a single stage procedure,” to reconstruct male genitalia into female. Jazz said, however, “I had to come back in for another procedure, but it was just all part of the journey. The good thing though is that it was only cosmetic and external so it wasn’t too dramatic.” She assured that her life was not endangered at any time, giving credit to the “incredible” surgeons that “really just supported [her] throughout the entire process and took control over the matter.” Nine weeks after her surgery, ABC News checked back in and reported that she was on her way to a full recovery.
Tune in to the new season of I Am Jazz on TLC, starting tonight at 10pm ET/PT.