Janet Mock became a media sensation when she went head to head with Piers Morgan earlier this year. Janet Mock, a transgender activist, clarified with Piers Morgan how to let trans women speak for themselves and how to respect and honor them by using the pronouns that are real for them. She further clarified that the gender assigned to her at birth because of her genitalia never meant she was not a girl or a woman.
This year, TIME Magazine put Laverne Cox on the cover of their “The Transgender Tipping Point” issue. For the first time in history, more transgender people are having their say and speaking their truths and educating others about how to respect and protect the rights of the trans community.
Janet Mock’s memoir, Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More, shares her powerful story of claiming herself for herself. Born in Hawaii to a Hawaiian mother and raised in her early years by an African American father in California and Texas, Mock’s memoir captures how she was shuttled between the selfish choices of her parents but also explores the bonds and strength that her family provided.
When Mock returns to Hawaii and navigates high school, she meets Wendi, a trans girl who is unabashedly herself and encourages Mock to be as well. One section I found particularly interesting is learning that Hawaiian culture was traditionally more accepting of gender variance. The term the Hawaiians used, mahu, was a term for those who didn’t fit a rigid gender mold but the word only became derogatory “in the nineteenth century” when “Christian, homophobic, and gender binary systems pushed mahu from the center to the margins.”
Mock’s memoir is powerful and informative. Now is the time for cisgender, or those who do not feel a dissonance with their gender identity or the sex assigned at their birth, to learn more about transgender women and men so that they can better respect and support them. Redefining Realness is a memoir worthy of a book group who wants to read about an inspiring woman that will enlarge their perspective on the world.