As soon as Jazz Jennings was able to talk, she was telling her parents something just didn’t feel right. Jennings – who was designated male at birth – says she always knew she was meant to be a female. At the age of 5, she became one of the youngest people diagnosed with gender dysphoria.
Since going public with her transition in 2007, Jennings, now 14, has become a major spokesperson in the transgender community.
“I tell [other transgender kids] to always stay strong and be your authentic self, and to keep moving forward because if you have a positive attitude things will get better.”
She uses this same advice in her own life. With Jennings starting high school in the fall, she plans to count on the support of her friends to ward off any negativity that comes her way. “I’m just, you know a little bit concerned,” she says, “but I know that if I have my friends and love myself along the way, that whatever they say won’t be worth it and it won’t matter to me.”
For more on Jazz Jennings, pick up your copy of this week’s PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday. And catch her new show, I Am Jazz, July 15 on TLC