NEW YORK -- Jazz Jennings made waves as the teenage start of the TLC documentary series “I am Jazz.” Now a New York-based toy maker has created a doll based on the transgender teen.
The doll will make its debut at the New York Toy Fair next week and be available for purchase in July, said Robert Tonner, founder and CEO of the Tonner Doll Company. The company believes it’s the first transgender doll on the market.
Tonner designed and sculpted the doll over a period of two years, he told CBS MoneyWatch. He said he first saw Jennings on a Barbara Walters 20/20 special 10 years ago, when she was 6-years-old.
“I was so impressed with her and how her parents treated her -- they were very supportive when she said she knew who she was. And it turned around my thinking on transgender issues,” he said.
The company is treating the “Jazz” doll as a test for the specialty-retail market. It will be sold by 25 to 50 stores and on the company’s website. If it’s a hit, it hopes to sell the doll more broadly.
The 18-inch doll, which has a “genderless” plastic mold typical of most dolls, is being tested for kids aged 8 years and older and is expected to retail for $89.99, a spokesman for the company told the Associated Press.
In comparison, the popular mass-market “American Girl” 18-inch dolls, which come with a book, sell for $115 on AmericanGirl.com.
Tonner’s company, which employs about 14 people in Kingston, New York, has made dolls based on a variety of TV, film and book characters including Spiderman, Harry Potter, Dr. Who and Wonder Woman.
“Jazz stands for everything I respect from a human nature point of view -- she’s incredibly brave, intelligent, warm-hearted and creative,” Tonner told AP.
Jennings is the youngest person ever to be recognized in The Advocate Magazine’s “Top Forty Under 40” annual list and was named as one of Time Magazine’s Most Influential Teens for 2014 and 2015. She has identified as a female since she could talk, her parents told ABC News.
In 2014, Jennings co-wrote a children’s picture book titled “I Am Jazz” and her memoir, “Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen,” was released last summer.
The Jazz Jennings doll comes 40 years after the release of the “Gay Bob” doll, widely thought to be the first doll based on a gay character.
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