NEW YORK — A doll made in the likeness of a reality television star who was born a boy but identifies as a girl was unveiled this weekend in New York.
The Tonner Doll Company, led by Robert Tonner, introduced the Jazz Jennings doll at the International Toy Fair in Manhattan on Saturday.
“Jazz stands for everything I respect from a human nature point of view: She’s incredibly brave, intelligent, warm-hearted and creative,” he said in a statement.
As previously reported, Jennings is known for being the center of the TLC reality show “I Am Jazz,” which follows the now 16-year old’s life living as the opposite sex.
“Although born male, Jazz is a transgender female and has been living as a girl since kindergarten,” the network describes the show on its website. “Parents Jeanette and Greg have spent the years finding doctors to treat their daughter, while fighting the discrimination and misconceptions associated with what it means to be transgender.”
“Jazz is on a regimen of hormone therapy so that she can look and develop like the other girls in her school. But, Jazz struggles with comparing herself, and the lagging pace of her breast development to her friends,” it outlines.
Tonner said that he first learned about Jennings in 2007 when the then six-year-old was featured on “20/20” with Barbara Walters. Years later, after he noted that Jennings was becoming a prominent voice on “transgender” issues, he contacted the teen’s parents to advise that he would like to create a doll in Jennings’ image.
“Especially with the nastiest coming up in this political climate, I thought this is the perfect time for something like this,” Tonner told Forbes.
He said that while he may not include the word “transgender” on the doll box, his hope is that the figure initiates conversation.
“This is a great kid—an advocate, an entrepreneur, [and] one of TIME’s most influential teenagers. I’m doing the doll of a very accomplished kid,” Tonner stated. “I hope that it does get conversation started.”
“My trainer says, ‘What makes this a transgender doll if she has no parts?'” he outlined, speaking of a talk he had at the gym. “I said, ‘It’s about who it represents. It represents a person with an issue that 20 years ago, you couldn’t have done it. Now it’s opening up conversations, and that’s what I like about it.”
Jennings says that he is happy with the doll.
“Ever since I was little, I always loved playing with dolls,” the teen told the New York Times. “It was a great way to show my parents that I was a girl, because I could just express myself as I am. So this really resonates with me, because it was something so pivotal in my own journey.”
But some have expressed concern that the doll is a furtherance of the progressive agenda.
“Sorry, but I’m so tired of this ‘politically correct’ [thinking],” one commenter wrote on the Tonner Doll Company page.
“God help us!” another exclaimed.
The doll will be tested in approximately 50 stores beginning in July, and will be sold for $89 and $99, depending on the outfit.