Profiles of Transgender Courage: Janet Mock

Janet Mock is an American transgender woman from Hawaii. She was born March 10, 1983 (hey, we share a birthday!). She is a bestselling writer, TV host, and transgender rights activist. She spent most of her youth in Hawaii, but also lived in Oakland, California and Dallas, Texas. She began her transition as a freshman in high school, funding it as a sex worker in her teens. She had gender confirmation surgery at the age of 18 in the middle of her first year of college.

Mock attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Fashion Merchandising in 2004, later she attended New York University earning a Master of Arts in Journalism in 2006. She was the first member of her family to attend college.She has also received a variety of awards including the Sylvia Rivera Activist Award in 2012, was included in the Trans 100 a list of influential Transgender activists in 2013... it's first year. She received the GLSEN Respect Award and the Feminist Press honored her at the Women & Power Gala in 2014. As well as a plethora of honors for her work in transgender and racial equality.

After graduating she became a staff editor for People magazine and remained in that position for five years. In 2011, she came out publicly as a trans woman in an article for Marie Claire entitled, I Was Born A Boy. Mock took issue with the title, stating she had no choice with the sex she was assigned at birth. Her confirmation surgery didn't change her into a girl because she had always been a girl. The editor later came out with an apology through Twitter, recalling how Mock had taken issue with the piece before being published and how she went with it anyway and ended it with the hashtag #regrets. Regardless of the misgendering, she became an editor at Marie Claire and has written about trans women's presence in the beauty industry as well as pieces on racial representation in television and film for the publication. She has also written for Elle, The Advocate, XoJane, and Huffington Post. She also submitted a video to the It Gets's Better Project discussing her experiences as a transgender woman. She has also appeared on a variety of news programs to promote her book and discuss transgender rights. One such appearance on Piers Morgan Live on CNN became controversial, as the pundit sensationalized her life and and failed to show interest in discussing trans issues. This resulted into a second appearance on the show, where she explained the problems of the way transgender bodies are represented in the media.

In 2012, Janet was signed to her first book deal by a division of Simon & Schuster and in 2014 her first book Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More. It is the first book to be written by a transgender person that transitioned in their teenage years. The book made the New York Times bestseller list and contains her memories living as a transgender teen, statistics, and social theory. She wrote in the authors note that she understands her privilege and that her story does not represent all trans women or trans women of color. It is simply her own experience which is one of many around the world. She also states that their is no one way to experience this journey. Feminist critic bell hooks referred to Janet's memoir as, "Courageous! This book is a life map for transformation" while Melissa Harris-Perry said, "Janet does what only great writers of autobiography accomplish—she tells a story of the self, which turns out to be a reflection of all humanity."

In 2012 she started the hashtag #GirlsLikeUs to empower trans women. She gave the Lavender Commencement keynote speech honoring LGBT students at the University of Southern California and served as co-chair, nominee and presenter at the 2012 GLAAD Media Awards. In 2013 she joined the board of directors of the Arcus Foundation and charity that partially focuses on LGBT rights. In 2014 Mock joined a campaign against a law that targeted trans women of color in Phoenix, Arizona which allowed police to arrest anyone suspected of "manifesting prostitution." In 2014 she was featured on the cover of C☆NDY magazine along with thirteen other transgender women. In 2016, HBO aired "The Trans List" which was produced by Mock where she interviews eleven other prominent transgender figures. Her new book Surpassing Certainty was published this past June and has been hailed as a must read by many publications and critics.

Janet's work is extensive and critical, spanning many mediums and covering a large scope of topics. Because of her success, advocacy and activism, our community has a strong voice speak on our behalf and help guide us into the next era of trans rights.

Kristelle's Story: Table of Contents