What’s believed to be the first manufactured transgender doll is about to make its debut at a New York City toy fair, and it’s based on Florida transgender teenager Jazz Jennings, star of the reality TV program “I Am Jazz.”
The doll is being manufactured by the Tonner Doll Co. of Kingston, New York, which makes a range of dolls, including fashionista models and TV, comic book and movie characters, such as Wonder Woman, Spider-Man and Harry Potter.
“I’m a doll!” Jennings, 16, posted on her Facebook page. “Thanks Tonner for being so progressive!”
The 18-inch doll — which has a plastic body with no gender identifiers as do most dolls — was designed by company CEO Robert Tonner, who said Jazz Jennings first impressed him when she appeared with her parents on “20/20” at the age of 6. She told journalist Barbara Walters then that she was a girl.
“Right from the start I wanted to be my authentic self,” Jennings told The Huffington Post in an interview last year. “I always gravitated toward all feminine things. I insisted that I was a girl, and over the years my parents realized I was a little bit different and decided to love and embrace me for who I am.”
Tonner told CBS News that Jazz and her parents “turned around my thinking on transgender issues.”
In a company statement, he said, “Jazz stands for everything I respect from a human nature point of view ― she’s incredibly brave, intelligent, warm-hearted and creative.”
On her TLC show, Jennings has shared her struggles with health issues while taking hormones, school problems, taunts and even death threats with the support of her family, friends and health professionals.
She’s the youngest person to be recognized by The Advocate Magazine’s “Top 40 Under 40” annual list. She’s an honorary co-founder of the Transkids Purple Rainbow Foundation and youth ambassador for the Human Rights Campaign, and speaks around the country in support of transkids.
The Jazz doll will retail for $89.99. It will debut in New York on Feb. 18 and is scheduled to hit store shelves in July. It initially will be test-marketed in up to 50 specialty retail stores, and will be available on the company’s website.