Who Is Jazz Jennings?

Jazz Jennings celebrated her 17th birthday in 2017, but she's been changing the world for about a decade. The transgender teen was assigned male at birth, but maintained she was a female since she could speak, and was diagnosed with gender dysphoria. Thanks to her much-publicized life story, Jennings has become a national activist for LGBTQ rights and. along with other transgender stars, is helping to raise awareness of trans youth issues through a multitude of platforms. Here's her story so far.

She fell into the spotlight at the age of 6

Jennings was just 6 years old when she was first featured on a 20/20 gender identity special hosted by Barbara Walters. Her parents reported that when she was 2 years old, she would correct her parents to remind them she was a "good girl" and not a "good boy" and ask them things like, "'Mommy, when's the good fairy going to come with her magic wand and change, you know, my genitalia?'" Jennings' pediatrician diagnosed her with gender identity disorder, and the therapist she was recommended to confirmed the same.

As Jennings would later remember in her memoir, Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen, she was only 3 years old when she visited "Dr. Marilyn" and was told that she was transgender following the consultation. "I remember feeling this overwhelming sense of relief that there was finally a word that described me, a girl who had accidentally been born in a boy's body."

At first, her parents continued to use male pronouns when referencing their child and did not allow her to wear girlish clothing outside the home, but after seeing her sadness over not being allowed to wear a tutu like the rest of the girls at her dance recital, they decided to finally fully embrace her transition. She grew out her hair, got her ears pierced, and started wearing dresses outside. Her parents said they decided to share her story publicly in order "to pave the way for a better life for her, and any trans kids. They didn't ask to be born this way." She and her family also soon founded the TransKids Purple Rainbow Foundation to support other transgender children.

She's a YouTube star

As a child, Jennings' favorite toys were always stuffed mermaids because, as she once told her mother, "they're different than us," and she brought that fin love to digital life in her first few YouTube videos. From DIY tutorials on how to make decorative jars and wreaths to discussing the positives and perils of navigating high school as a trans teen, she leaves her unique mark on every upload and creates space for others to define — or refuse to define –their sexuality.

She's also an author, activist, and transkid champion

Jennings co-wrote a children's book centered on childhood gender identity called I Am Jazz which she said she hoped would have "a big impact on kids who are struggling to find out who they are or help kids accept their friends or peers who are different." The book's title was a callback to the documentary the Oprah Winfrey Network filmed about her life, I Am Jazz: A Family in Transition, which followed the Jennings family as they grappled with the approach of expensive and otherwise taxing hormone therapy treatments for the then-11-year-old Jazz.

Shortly after the special aired, Jennings returned to 20/20 to speak with Walters again about her ongoing battle with the U.S. Soccer Federation to play with the girls' teams, a policy she successfully pushed to change. Jazz also founded a company that makes rubber mermaid tails to raise money for fellow trans children. Jennings was recognized as one of Time Magazine's "25 Most Influential Teens of 2014" and was awarded LogoTV's 2014 Youth Trailblazer Award as a result of her many accomplishments for the transkid community.

She's a national spokesperson and TV star, too

Thanks to Jazz Jennings' hard work in bringing awareness to trans teen issues, she was chosen as the face for Clean & Clear's "See the Real Me" digital ad campaign, which allowed her to continue to spread her message of transgender awareness and acceptance. She also appeared in a NOH8 campaign ad with the message "All transkids deserve to be happy. Get to know us; you'll love us!" (Her mother joined her for a second image for the campaign as well.)

The Jennings family was then featured in TLC's docu-series called I Am Jazz, which captured the challenges and triumphs associated with a family raising a transkid, including the risky surgical procedure she endured to prevent her from going through male puberty.

'We are all just people'

Being Jazz, Jenning's second autobiographical book, is different from the children's book she released in 2014. "I Am Jazz was more for children to understand what it means to be transgender," she explained. "But with Being Jazz, I wanted to get the universal message across that we are all just people and we have to live our lives authentically."

She's now reached a level of advocacy where she understands her status as an idol for fellow transkids is part of a much bigger picture. "It's beyond myself ... it's not about me," she admitted. The book was released on June 7, 2016 and has garnered positive reviews.