Imagine you have three kids and you just welcomed a fourth, a baby boy. Then, imagine, as that baby boy grows up, they decide that they don’t see themselves as a boy at all. As far as that child is concerned, she is a girl.
That’s the challenge Greg and Jeanette Jennings faced just over a decade ago when their youngest child, who now goes by Jazz, told them that she was a girl trapped in a boy’s body. While most parents would be shocked by the news, and these parents surely were, Greg and Jeanette took the transition in stride, accepting their daughter as is and helping her become the face of trans children and teens across the country. Now, the entire family is taking to cable as the focus of a TLC docuseries called I Am Jazz. Here’s what you need to know about Greg and Jeanette:
1. Jennings Is Not Their Real Last Name
In order to preserve a bit of privacy and to ensure that their family is kept safe, Greg and Jeanette assumed “Jennings” as a last name when Jazz first publicly discussed her transition with Barbara Walters on 20/20.
When the family first started to share Jazz’s story, Greg and Jeanette went by different first names, calling themselves Renee and Scott. The family’s exact home location has never been disclosed either, with only occasional references to living in South Florida.
2. The Couple Helped Found TransKid Purple Rainbow Foundation With Jazz in 2007
Shortly after going public with their family’s story, Greg and Jeanette decided to take things a step further and, with the help of Jazz, founded the TransKid Purple Rainbow Foundation, a group focused on improving the lives of trans kids and teens across the United States.
According to the Foundation’s site, its mission is focused on helping trans kids make the transition and take away some of the stigma surrounding the community. Its goals are listed as:
TKPRF is committed to the premise that Gender Dysphoria is something a child can’t control and it is society that needs to change, not them. Families need to support their children and be encouraged to allow them to grow-up free of gender roles. TKPRF is committed to enhancing the future lives of TransKids by educating schools, peers, places of worship, the medical community, government bodies, and society in general, in an effort to seek fair and equal treatment and of all transyouth.
The Foundation also works with Deborah Eve Grayson, a licensed mental health counselor to aid trans kids throughout their lives.
3. Greg & Jeanette Also Have Three Other Children
The couple have four children together, including Arial, 19, and twin sons Sander and Griffen, 17. The entire family will be featured throughout the run of I Am Jazz.
Arial also had a major hand in Jazz’s transition early on. Jazz picked the name after she saw her sister play Princess Jasmine in a stage version of the Disney film Aladdin.
4. Jeanette Is Active on Social Media
Jeanette boasts a big-time following on Twitter and often uses her platform on social media to try and increase education surrounding trans kids. That includes the #JazzHands movement which encourages followers to post photos of themselves making the signature dance move with the hashtag.
For every photo that’s posted, TLC will donate $1 to the Jennings’ charity, TransKids Purple Rainbow Foundation.
5. The Couple Has Helped Jazz Prevent Puberty as a Boy With Hormone Therapy
Jazz has frequently said that one of her greatest fears growing up was going through puberty as a boy and growing a beard and body hair. In order to prevent that from happening, the now 14-year-old, with the help of her parents, has been going through hormone therapy to stave off puberty.
Doctors have prescribed blockers that will prevent body hair from growing and stall the development of other masculine features. Jazz will also undergo estrogen therapy in order to develop a more female-like body. However, the treatments are expensive, upwards of $18,000, and the financial strain it has put on Greg and Jeanette is very real. However, their support has not wavered and Greg told ABC News:
Jeanette and I are in 100 percent agreement as to how we should raise Jazz. We don’t encourage, we support. And we just keep listening to what she tells us.