Genre: LGBT Fiction (Note: Although the protagonist is a teenager, this is not YA)
Jazz is a seventeen-year-old transgendered youth – female to male – who simply wants to live his life; not as Jaswinder, the beloved daughter of a respected Hindu family, but as a guy, as Jazz. Although he is accepted on the streets of downtown Toronto for who he is, back in the suburbs he must hide his identity from his family and school friends. When his brother, Sugith outs him to his father, he quarrels with his family, and storms out of the house, determined to make his way in the world on his own terms. He moves in temporarily with his cross dressing friend, Marque; whose sexual proclivities are only matched by his love of smoking dope. With no money, he seeks help from the a community association known for its support of glbt youth. There he meets the sharp-tongued Sister Mary Francis, a former nun who has been ousted from the church for daring to dialogue with witches and homosexuals. Initially, their partnership benefits Jazz. With her support, he gets a job in a local hair salon, moves into a bachelor apartment and begins to enjoy living openly as a male. However his life changes one hot summer evening. Out on the town with Marque, Jazz gets a little too high, and makes a pass at a young woman in a bar. When her boyfriend enters the scene, he and Jazz get into a fight, a fight that leaves Jazz badly beaten. His inability to fight ‘like a man’ leaves Jazz questioning his abilities to succeed in his chosen gender identity. He pushes to fast track the process of physical masculinization through the use of hormones and surgery, only to run up against the prejudices and cautious protocols of the medical bureaucracy. Angry at the system, he breaks off his relationship with Sister Mary Francis. Tired, broke and alone, he gives in to despair. It is in this dark night, that his own deepest strength emerges, with the help of a compassionate community, both queer and straight.
This story addresses the challenges faced by a transgendered youth, through a sensitive lense, underscored with humour.