Continuous debates have been circulating around what people feel transgender individuals should and should not be able to do, but a big accomplishment is on the on the way for the community…
In February, Tonner Doll Company announced that it will be selling what it assumes to be the world’s first transgender doll on the market in the summer. Tonner Doll Company is known for making adult collectibles and high-fashion dolls based on a variety of TV, movie, and book characters like Spiderman, Harry Potter, and Wonder Woman; however, the newest 18-inch doll, which will have a genderless plastic mold like most dolls, is based on Trans teen Jazz Jennings and will be targeted to kids 8 and older.
Jazz Jennings is a 16-year-old transgender activist best known for her TV show I Am Jazz that began airing on TLC in July 2015. The Jewish and South Florida native, who has said she’s never felt like a boy, became one of the youngest publicly documented transgender individuals as she was diagnosed with gender identity disorder in 2004 around the tender age of three. She began to transition to living and dressing as a girl at her fifth birthday party when she wore a one-piece bathing suit and told her friends she was a girl.
In 2007, at the age of six, Jennings appeared on a Barbara Walters 20/20 special where she spoke about the challenges of growing up transgender, and in the same year she co-founded TransKids Purple Rainbow Foundation with her parents which is dedicated to enhancing the lives of transgender youth. In 2013, Jennings co-wrote a children’s book with the Director of the Stonewall National Education Project, Jessica Herthel, called I Am Jazz that details her life as a transgender child; and after a two-and-a-half year long battle, with the aid of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, she was able to change the policies of the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) that prevented trans students from playing. Jennings has continued to blaze the trail through countless other accomplishments, so it’s no wonder why the Tonner Doll Company chose one of Advocate’s 2014 “40 Under 40” honorees to be the model for the groundbreaking doll.
Robert Tonner, the CEO of the doll company, was inspired by Jennings’s story when he first saw her on Barbara Walters’s 20/20 special and said they chose Jazz to continue their history of representing “socially transformational heroes.” He continued by saying, “Jazz stands for everything I respect from a human nature point of view. She’s incredibly brave, intelligent, warm-hearted and creative.”
Although Tonner isn’t yet sure if the word ‘transgender’ will be on the package, the Jazz-inspired doll is scheduled for a limited-edition release in July. It will be sold on the Tonner Doll website and by 25 to 50 specialty stores, and if it’s a hit, the company plans to expand to more locations. The doll will come dressed in a pink shirt and jean shorts – mimicking the outfit that Jazz wore on the cover of her memoir, “Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen” that she released in 2016. It will also come in a more glammed up and red carpet ready version wearing a sparkling white ballerina dress. Different versions of the doll are expected to cost between $89 to $100.
Congratulations Jazz! Continue to break barriers because now many young girls who love dolls just like you did will have one that represents who they truly are.