Blog Post

Physician: “I Am Jazz” Book & TV Show Riddled With Inaccuracies

A group of parents recently asked a board-certified physician to review I Am Jazz, the well-known book and TLC show about a boy who transitions to female. What the doctor discovered should concern every parent and educator.

Writing for The Witherspoon Institute, Michael K. Laidlaw, MD a board-certified physician in Rocklin, California, who specializes in endocrinology - the medical field that deals with gender dysphoria - was asked by parents to take a look at the book, I Am Jazz, which is widely read in schools to teach children about transgenderism. .

The book, which was written by Jazz Jennings and Jessica Herthel, tells the story of how Jazz, from a very young age, believed that he was born the wrong gender.

What Dr. Laidlaw found was a story riddled with inaccuracies and some very significant omissions.

For example, about a quarter of the way through I Am Jazz, the author states: “I have a girl brain in a boy body” and says that it was when the doctor was speaking to his parents that he heard the word “transgender” for the first time.

“The book is written in a way to make you believe that Jazz was diagnosed as transgender," Dr. Laidlaw writes. "But this is not a diagnosis. The medical diagnosis is gender dysphoria. A biological male feeling and believing himself to be a girl and the distress that accompanies these feelings and beliefs is an example of gender dysphoria (previously known as gender identity disorder). Gender dysphoria is never mentioned in the book.”

As a doctor trained in this field, Dr. Laidlaw gives the stunning statistic that 90 percent of children who feel the way Jazz did early in his life eventually outgrow the condition.

Another inaccuracy in the book concerns Jazz's statement: “I have a girl brain but a boy body. This is called transgender. I was born this way!”

This is not possible, says Dr. Laidlaw. The “born this way” narrative contradicts known medical facts, involving twin studies.

“If gender identity is determined only by genes, then we would expect that identical twins would profess having the same gender identity nearly 100 percent of the time. This is not the case,” he says.

The largest transsexual twin study ever conducted, which included 74 pairs of identical twins found that only 21 of the 74 pairs grew up to both identify as transgender.

“This is consistent with the fact that multiple factors play a role in determining gender identity, including psychological and social factors. This study in fact shows that those factors are more important than any potential genetic contribution. Furthermore, no genetic studies have ever identified a transgender gene or genes.”

Jazz’s statement about having a “girl brain” in a boy body is also scientifically impossible. Every cell in the body contains 46 chromosomes, two of which are sex chromosones. Because these cells are present in every cell in the body, “since Jazz is male, every cell of his brain has an X and a Y chromosome (whereas a girl brain would have two X chromosomes),” Dr. Laidlaw explains. “Therefore Jazz in fact has a 'boy brain' right down to the very level of the DNA.”

The omissions in the book and just as troubling.

For instance, the book never mentions that Jazz suffers from depression, a condition that plagues 70 percent of people with gender dysphoria. Even though he does admit this on the television show, the public should know that depression, anxiety, biopolar disorder, and dissociative disorders are common mental health issues associated with people suffering from gender dysphoria, all of which are treatable.

Unfortunately, not all people suffering from gender dysphoria receive help in these areas, which is why the suicide and substance abuse rates is so high among this population.

“The American public has been led to believe that the primary cause of transgender suicide is bullying and mistreatment by society. The facts are quite different,” Dr. Laidlaw states.

“Ninety percent of suicides are associated with a psychiatric condition. The risk of suicide coincides of course with the high prevalence of mental illness in this group of people.”

A landmark government study in sexually liberal Sweden showed that people who identify as transgender have about eight times the risk of suicide as the general population.

Dr. Laidlaw also describes the macabre surgical procedures that Jazz will undergo to try to fashion female genitalia out of his male body, a procedure which will render him permanently infertile and impact his sexual function.

He has also been ingesting hormone blockers that have prevented him from going through puberty.

“By current protocol, children with gender dysphoria are given these powerful hormones at around age eleven. This is too young for them to understand the implications of what will happen to their minds and bodies. Time is required for maturity of the developing adolescent mind, and hormones play an important role in this development. For Jazz, allowing normal production of testosterone would further the development of his adolescent brain and very likely lead him to different conclusions regarding his gender,” Dr. Laidlaw writes.

He goes on to conclude: “I Am Jazz contains false information and very troubling omissions. For these reasons, I believe that the book is not appropriate for children of any age to read. Children who are experiencing gender dysphoria will likely be harmed by this book, as will children who do not have the condition.”

Children who share a class with a gender-dysphoric child will need to be educated about what this means and how to address the situation. This process should be done primarily with parents and guardians and, ideally, in cooperation with teachers and staff.

Reading the book I Am Jazz in classrooms is not the way to go because the book's factual inaccuracies and omissions “actually work against educating children about gender dysphoria,” he said.

“I believe that if we know the facts about this condition, we will be much more compassionate and understanding toward people with this condition.”

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