Jazz Jennings is one of the most well-known stars in the transgender community. And unfortunately, she’s no stranger to prejudice. The 16-year-old star of TLC’s I Am Jazz was recently the target of a hateful—and rather inaccurate—comment by Derick Dillard, husband to Jill Duggar of TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting and Counting On.
“What an oxymoron…a ‘reality’ show which follows a non-reality, ‘Transgender’ is a myth. Gender is not fluid; it’s ordained by God,” Derick tweeted in response to a TLC promotion of Jazz’s show. (Dillard is known for his conservative Christian beliefs.)
About 1.4 million adults identify as transgender in the US, according to a 2016 report from The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law. While most people grow up to identify as the sex they were born with, some people’s gender identity is different, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality. Gender identity is based on if you view yourself as a male or female, a combination of the two, or neither. And everyone has a gender identity.
Derick said in a follow-up tweet that he has nothing against Jazz, but referred to the star as “him,” not her. Trying to prove to someone that they don’t know who they are, like Derick seems to be doing, is incredibly damaging—for example, children whose gender identity isn’t affirmed by their families are more likely to suffer from issues like depression and addiction.
TLC, which airs both I Am Jazz and Counting On, released a statement on Twitter in response to the controversy saying that Derick’s beliefs do not reflect those of the network.