The current season of TLC’s I Am Jazz chronicles the weeks leading up to Jazz Jennings’ gender confirmation surgery, and, over the last two episodes, viewers have learned a lot about the life-changing surgery, as well as the risks the 18-year-old faced by undergoing the procedure.
The first two episodes of Season 5 have spurred much debate across social media platforms, especially Twitter. Many fans were confused about what happens during a surgery like Jazz’s, as well as the physical aspects of gender confirmation surgeries in general.
Tonight’s episode will likely reveal more surgery-related details, but fans seem to be waiting for the much-hyped surgery episode, which will air later this season.
Here, The Ashley has listed some of the most-common questions fans have asked on the topic on Twitter, as well as the answers, as provided during the first two episodes of Season 5 by Jazz, her parents, Greg and Jeanette Jennings, and Jazz’s surgeon Dr. Marci Bowers.
How did Dr. Bowers construct a vagina for Jazz?
Constructing a vagina for Jazz was no easy feat.
“For the genitals, for the outside, it’s just the tissue she already has,” Dr. Bowers shared during Episode 1. “And for the sensory portions, it’s going to be the head of the penis that will become the clitoris.”
The doctor assured Jazz that her new vagina would have a depth of at least five inches.
During last week’s episode, Skylar, a friend of Jazz’s who had gender confirmation surgery herself warned Jazz that the post-surgery process of “dilating” (where a plastic tool is inserted into the vagina for a period of time to keep the vagina at the correct depth and width) will be painful.
Why was Jazz’s surgery more difficult than other gender confirmation surgeries?
The fact that Jazz never went through puberty meant risking complications. As fans are aware, the TLC star started taking testosterone blockers at a young age, which prevented her male sex organs from growing normally. This resulted in a lack of usable tissue to construct the vagina.
“Jazz as a medical case is really a conundrum because her puberty was blocked so well that she didn’t get growth of her genitals in a way that allows us as a surgeon to use a conventional approach,” Dr. Bowers explained. “We have to be very creative to find new ways of getting tissue to line these areas of the body that we create.”
Jazz’s doctor used Jazz’s peritoneal lining (which is a thin membrane that surrounds the stomach) to build the vaginal canal. The doctor told her and her parents that Jazz’s surgery will likely set the standard as to how doctors harvest patients’ peritoneal lining going forward.
What were the risks Jazz faced by having the surgery?
Dr. Bowers explained that “hemorrhage inside” or “injury to the intestine” were among the many things that could have possibly gone wrong for Jazz in the operating room or once she returned home.
Jazz recently told ABC News that she actually had to return to the operating room to have a second procedure done.
“The good thing though is that it was only cosmetic and external so it wasn’t too dramatic,” Jazz said, confirming that the complication was not life-threatening.
Jazz’s young age also presented additional risks.
“She’s on the borderline for age to do the surgery at all, and so we’ve got to have everything perfect,” the doctor stated in Episode 1.
(Many of the show’s critics blasted Jazz’s parents for allowing her to have the surgery while she was still a teenager. One notable critic— former Counting On star Derick Dillard—likened it to “a kind of child abuse” around the time Jazz had the surgery last summer.)
Will sex feel good for Jazz?
Jazz is usually very open about all topics, but discussing “the sex stuff” is still uncomfortable for the star. In the Episode 1, Jazz admitted her libido was still “basically nowhere.”
“Jazz does not know what an orgasm is and it’s very important when expressing intimacy,” Dr. Bowers explained. “And although it is not something that’s going to delay surgery, it’s not going to be any easier for her to have an orgasm after surgery.”
She also added that if one is “able to orgasm pre-surgery, they’re very highly likely to be able to orgasm afterwards.”
A new episode of ‘I Am Jazz’ airs tonight on TLC.
I read Jazz is worried about orgasming, because of surgical complications with the vagina. Somebody inform this kid: you have no g-spot, so you’ll have to depend on your clitoris. Works super-fine for me.
Her parents annoy the hell out of me.
me too the mother is batsh*t scary and the dad well he had the right idea he was the only one saying wait a bit about the blockers. But no the mother gives her whatever she wanted and in the end if they had just waited a bit this surgery would have been so much easier to do. Not saying a child doens’t have the right but sometimes doing things too soon leads to complications but the dad is a pushover. Something is off about the whole family
[* Shield plugin marked this comment as “trash”. Reason: Failed GASP Bot Filter Test (comment token failure) *]
You’ve mostly answered your own question, but here’s a little more connecting of the dots, from my understanding (and/but, as a cis-woman, I hope someone will correct me or add to this as needed. And by hope and correct/add, I mean someone trans or a closer ally who actually is adding to the question asked of why “they” call it that; obviously people can post what they gonna post, but I don’t mean that *I* HOPE someone will think this is a debate and post inflammatory shit on why THEY don’t think “they” should call it that, why it shouldn’t be done, or just be a troll or ‘phobr in general).
Yup, your points that sex and gender differ is spot on, and your point that gender “doesn’t have to do with your private parts” is semi-spot on: I’m not sure if you’re using shorthand here (considering you’ve made the leap from sex: gender to “private parts”:gender, I’m not certain, but I’m assuming you mean genitals and secondary sex characteristics and and anything else generally linked to one’s being categorized (from birth through adulthood) as determining one’s sex, particularly when assumed through the expectation of a simple binary, which hopefully most of is us now know itself is flawed, as there are myriad ways for one to have/be born with intesexed or ambiguous genitalia: that, despite having a combination or lack of “private parts,” medical professionals historically still tried to fit this person into easily classifying as one sex or the other—frequently performing significant surgery or providing medical treatments from birth or early childhood so that one’s body matched either the male or female sex, and the gender proscribed to that sex, only heightens what is correct about your latter statement, although I’d amend it to gender doesn’t *necessarily*
“have to do with”equate with one’s sex. I’d add that one’s view on this is also going to be strongly colored by where one falls on the biological determinism/social construct (ie, nature v nature) belief, but I’d also argue that regardless of that, there IS, at present time, albeit influenced by cultural norms, there is a strong enough social expectation and understanding of what it means to be male or female (at least in Western cultures; I don’t feel comfortable apply my cultural locus beyond that) that that argument becomes a moot point in determining how one perceives their gender and it’s alignment to their [assigned] sex, at least at present time.
With that, to address your question, why “they” call it gender confirmation surgery: until somewhat recently, it was known as sex-reassignment surgery, But as surgeries (especially after hormone treatment) are performed (for Trans individuals who choose to do them; many don’t) after one’s [assigned] sex has already been determined (and often already “reassigned} to conform with and confirm one’s gender identity, the naming of it as such simply describes what it is: one of the many potential steps in having one’s body (“private parts” or physical codifiers for one’s sex) align with—or confirm—one’s gender identity.
I hope that helps, and again, if I’m off in explaining or understanding this, I hope someone with more personal expertise will set me…on the right path 😉
Hope she recovers well and will be happier. She is brave for going on TV with this, I applaud her.
I need someone to explain to me why they are calling it gender confirmation surgery when they say gender and sex are two different things and gender doesn’t have to do with your private parts.
I mean, I’m not super aware of the latest thought in the gender studies field, but it seems that sex & gender are related for trans people. Otherwise they’d be just as happy to say “I’m a woman in my head and my brain doesn’t match but that’s okay.” (Which some are, to be fair.) So even though it’s the sex organs that are being changed, that’s the (sort of) visible outer sign of gender…? The whole thing confuses me too, to be honest. But luckily we don’t have to understand stuff perfectly to be supportive and kind!