How I Came to Write the Book “Jazz Mergirl” about Jazz Jennings
By J e r n i
An unexpected and puzzling thing happened to me back in 2015. I wrote a nonfiction book titled Jazz Mergirl, the true story of Jazz Jennings and others who are transgender. (Jazz’s nickname for herself is Jazz Mer-Girl, because she loves mermaids.)
What’s so puzzling about authoring a book? After Jazz Mergirl’s publication, I couldn’t adequately explain why I was so powerfully motivated – driven, actually – to tell Jazz’s story.
Oh, sure, in the manuscript’s Preface, I did share what I thought was my motivation for writing Jazz Mergirl. As a recently-retired teacher, I wanted to do something else related to education. Scrolling through YouTube, I came across “My Secret Self”, a 2007 ABC TV documentary about transgender children that featured 6-year-old Jazz Jennings.
For some reason, I was fascinated and intensely interested in the program’s young participants, especially little Jazz, and soon came to believe a much more in-depth look into her life, and that of other transgender people, was a story that had to be shared. I so wanted to help educate, and to “open hearts and minds”. (When I began my research, this was before the cable series “I Am Jazz” was even a thing.)
But why was I – a cisgender guy who knew virtually nothing about those who are transgender – so obsessed with writing such a book? In looking back after Jazz Mergirl was published, that’s what so mystified me.
Two people close in my life later shared they knew full well why I’d do such a seemingly out-of-nowhere thing as to suddenly dive into researching and authoring Jazz Mergirl.
But I didn’t have a clue.
In early 2016, when it came time to compose a blog post exploring with my readers more about how I came to write Jazz Mergirl, I began this very same essay you are now reading. However, I got stuck trying to figure out my true motivation, and I ended up with an unpublished, very-incomplete post. It’s still saved on my computer.
Now I am ready to share my truth.
One day in spring, 2016, as I was doing some “mindless” chores, something happened that I’d never experienced before. An incredibly bright, white aura suddenly appeared over my head, and in an instant, I had one of those “aha moments” you hear about. (The light bulb over your head thing, it’s real.)
And in that moment, I thought, “Oh my gosh! My book isn’t only about Jazz Jennings – It’s about me!”
All through the two-year project of researching and writing Jazz Mergirl, I had been so outer-focused on other people’s stories, I never once looked inward to realize that my intense interest and fascination with transgender kids was actually a reflection of who I really am myself, and always have been.
I finally get to be my true self, not a “cisgender guy” who’s an ally, but the trans girl I had hidden away as a young child so long ago. I now understand that this is why I was so caught up watching little, 6-year-old Jazz Jennings on YouTube. And that’s what led me to write Jazz Mergirl.
I’ve been asked, will there be another book? My family has encouraged me to write a memoir. My sister even came up with the title: “My Journey to Jerni”. Not sure if it will ever “see the light of day”, but I’ve got parts of that saved on my computer too.
By the way, Jazz Mergirl is available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and all the book’s royalties are donated to Jazz’s foundation.