[Banned/Challenged Book] I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel & Jazz Jennings (authors) & Shelagh McNicholas (illustrator)

For this week, I’m featuring a banned, challenged, or censored book each day of the week alongside your regularly scheduled line-up!

i am jazz

Dial Books
Pub Date   September 4th 2014
Genres     Children’s Picture Books, LGBT+/QUILTBAG+, Nonfiction, Biography


The story of a transgender child based on the real-life experience of Jazz Jennings, who has become a spokesperson for transkids everywhere.

From the time she was two years old, Jazz knew that she had a girl’s brain in a boy’s body. She loved pink and dressing up as a mermaid and didn’t feel like herself in boys’ clothing. This confused her family, until they took her to a doctor who said that Jazz was transgender and that she was born that way. Jazz’s story is based on her real-life experience and she tells it in a simple, clear way that will be appreciated by picture book readers, their parents, and teachers.


This autobiographical picture book co-written by the 13-year-old protagonist was challenged because it addresses gender identity.


Loved that a book like this was made, but had SOO MANY ISSUES WITH THIS ONE… and NONE OF THEM ARE BECAUSE JAZZ IS TRANS.

Main two issues I had was that JAZZ IS NOT WHITE. WHY IS SHE DEPICTED AS WHITE IN THE BOOK?! She’s Jewish, and yes, I know Jewish people come in all skin colors… but Jazz’s skintone is NOT white.

In every

29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards Los Angeles - Red Carpet









her skin is clearly bronzed or light brown or tanned or something. THERE IS COLOR TO HER SKIN, OK?! My biggest issue is that this book is supposed to be biographical account of her early life and the cover LITERALLY SHOWS A LITTLE WHITE GIRL with not a hint of bronze or color or anything to her skintone. I mean… what the hell did this book need the whitewashing for? WHY?????

Secondly, I really didn’t like the reinforcing of the gender binary and gender stereotypes throughout the book (things like “girl clothes” and “boy body”). I understand that the book was made for kids to understand, but that’s just the problem. If you continue to teach kids from since young that there was “boy clothes” and “girl clothes”, you continue to enforce the problem, especially for kids who don’t feel like the clothes suit who they are inside. I know I definitely had that problem growing up. It was unbelievably frustrating to be herded towards a section of the store for my assigned sex when I wanted nothing more than to head over to where the “cool clothes” were on the other side of the aisle. (And yes, I did used to think of them as “the cool clothes”, not the “[insert a sex/gender] clothes”.)


What do you guys think? Have you read this one? What were your thoughts on it and does the challenges brought upon it stand or are wildly exaggerated?


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