Jazz Jennings Is Ready for 'Powerful' Adult Journey After TV Teendom: 'I'm a Badass Bitch, I Claim That'

The TLC star tells PEOPLE the new season of I Am Jazz "captures my relationship with my mom and how it's hard for her to let go of me a little bit"

Jazz Jennings is embracing adulthood.

In the new season of I Am Jazz, the TLC star and activist is headed back to Harvard University for her sophomore year, she's dating for the first time in years and she's intent on asserting her independence.

Of course, that occasionally creates a bit of friction with her mother Jeanette, and in an exclusive sneak peek at the season 8 premiere, the 22-year-old locks horns with her mom when Jeannette crashes Jazz's outing to a Selfie Museum with friends.

Though Jazz says she's told her parents "multiple times" that she's in charge of her own schedule, her mom has a simple request: "Just stay in touch. Dad and I worry."

Jazz counters, "You can't be worried every single time I'm not with you. … When will the day come when you no longer track me on my phone? Or will you always track me?"

Jeanette reminds Jazz: "There's just a lot of people out there that don't have respect for transgender people."

Jazz Jennings
Stefanie Keenan/Getty

In a confessional interview, Jeanette admits, "I do not feel that I'll ever completely let Jazz go. It's not like a codependent thing, it's just — I've been worried about her for so long, and she's been through so much that that just doesn't go away. No matter how old she is, I'm always gonna worry."

Jeanette explains in a mother-daughter interview later that she's still making peace with how much freedom she will comfortably allow because "I trust Jazz in certain situations, and in others I do not trust her at all."

And like any young adult, Jazz is firm in what she wants. She tells her mom, "I'm ready for you to take a step back."

Jazz Jennings
Jazz Jennings/Instagram

Speaking to PEOPLE, Jazz says, "I would say the most difficult aspect [of growing up] is just kind of leaning into the things that mom used to do for me that now I have to do for myself."

She shares that that new season will delve into "that transition — childhood to adulthood. It really kind of captures my relationship with my mom and how it's hard for her to let go of me a little bit."

"But at the same time," says Jazz, "she knows that it's time for me to jump... not jump, but fly out of the bird's nest."

And while Jazz's return to Cambridge, Massachusetts, from the Jennings family home in Florida has been quite a leap, it fortunately hasn't been too drastic. In fact, her parents visited Boston in the fall to join Jazz in exploring Harvard Square (Russell House Tavern is a favorite) and seeing many other iconic Bean Town sites including the Commons, Fenway Park and Newbury Street.

Beyond the cobbled streets of New England, Jazz has also been taking steps on her journey toward independence, grappling along the way with anxiety, binge eating and self-acceptance.

"I know I can handle a lot and that I have a thick skin, and life has challenged and tested me in so many ways," she tells PEOPLE. "Looking back like, Damn, I'm a badass bitch. And I know it and I claim that."

"And I want every person to claim that," she adds. "Because we're all unique. We're all special."

Jazz Jennings instagram
Jazz Jennings instagram

As for how I Am Jazz viewers will react to those changes, Jazz is "excited" to share her latest chapter.

"I'm proud of myself for how strong I've been. And I definitely feel like I've changed and grown as a person. ... I'm not the same girl that I was when I started filming this show," she says.

"I'm older now, I'm wiser, I've had more experiences, I've faced hardships and I'm a new Jazz," she affirms. "And I feel like people are really going to see that and relate to that. I think it's a powerful thing to see someone's growth."

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I Am Jazz airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on TLC.

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