Musician Gives Insight Into Being Transgender in Jazz

Jennifer Leitham gave insight into life as a transgender jazz musician.

“It’s really unusual to be a jazz musician and be transgender,” she stated. “I’m like a unicorn or something.”

Leitham, a jazz bassist, composer, and vocalist has been performing for nearly 45 years and has played all over the world. She’s played with artists including Doc Severinsen of “The Tonight Show,” as well as Mel Tormé, k.d. lang, and Peggy Lee. She has also played on more than 130 albums, including 10 of her own.

“I didn’t see woman doing the thing I did, let along trans women,” she explained. “And while my music career was really flying and doing great, I don’t know what it was, but something in me just couldn’t do it anymore. I just couldn’t live a double life.”

Leitham went on to create her own records including “The Real Me,” one of her most popular albums to date. In 2012, she was the focus of the documentary “I Stand Corrected,” which detailed her transitioning journey and advocated for the trans community.

“On most levels of our culture, I think that trans people now are better understood and recognized more than they’ve ever been,” she stated. “If there ever was a time where we really need to put ourselves out there and reach out for allies and to show our value, this is as important as a time as there’s ever been.”