Janet Mock redefines everything

Janet Mock redefining realness
“This story is just one of untold thousands. I figured I needed to make a space talk about representation and how people are going to take this book as “the” experience of all trans-women, when its not. It’s just my story, and I hold so much privilege in being able to tell it,” Mock says of her memoir.

Janet Mock may be interested in definitions, but in her memoir “Redefining Realness,” she forgoes any crystallized simplicity and delves into the messy complexity of a life. Mock’s story of growing up, figuring herself out and navigating the world as a transwoman is intensely personal, but firmly rooted in the literature and theory of identity politics.

“I grew up in a world where black and brown bodies were not valued. There were all of those systems of oppression, and it’s a story of navigating all of that,” Mock says of her experience growing up trans in Oakland, California and Honolulu, Hawaii. Though her book is about her story of transition, she is eager to stress that being trans is just one piece of who she is.

With forthright, erudite language, Mock tells anecdotes of watching Beyoncé on television as a teenager, and of her struggles communicating with “super-loving but super limited” parents ill-equipped to accept the person whom they considered their only son. Mock sought wisdom and advice from the trans community in Honolulu and found comfort in her friendship with Wendi, her best friend who is also trans.

The pressure to represent the trans community is not something Mock takes lightly. Activism and political visibility underlie “Redefining Realness” and assure readers that this memoir will not be Mock’s final word on how trans women of color are perceived. She sees it as vital, particularly when transwomen are bombarded by invasive (not to mention irrelevant) questions about their genitals as model Carmen Carrera was recently on Katie Couric’s show.

“If a marginalized person wants to be heard, they have to be exceptional,” says Mock of the mantle of respectability she feels she is charged with maintaining. “You need to have a master’s degree, you need to have your talking points, you need to be smiley — all of these things while people are asking the most ridiculous questions,” she says.

The struggle against societal norms is a large part of Mock’s story, and the activism that is ingrained in “Redefining Realness.” And activism is very important to a community affected by alarmingly high rates of attempted suicide — 41 percent compared to 4.6 percent in the general population according to a study released last month from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law.

But being an advocate for her community is hardly the beginning of Mock’s quest. She seeks to push the bar ever-higher, and she’s going to need to. Mock had three dreams — to be herself, to be a writer and to live in New York City — and if the silhouette of the Empire State Building on the cover of her book is any indication, she’s going to have to draft some new goals.

Mock hopes her story of transition can stand out in a body of work that she considers largely “apolitical.” But perhaps the most significant point underlying “Redefining Realness” is that Mock’s definitions don’t stop at the real — they imagine what could be.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Woman dies when run over by bus at…

A woman at the Burning Man arts and culture festival in the Nevada desert died on Thursday when she was run over by a bus carrying participants.

National

Texas parents sue day care center for duct…

By Marice RichterDALLAS (Reuters) - A Texas couple has filed a lawsuit against the owners of a Fort Worth-area day care center seeking $1 million…

National

Santa Fe city council votes to decriminalize marijuana

By Joseph KolbALBUQUERQUE N.M. (Reuters) - Santa Fe on Wednesday became the latest U.S. city to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana, with lawmakers in the…

International

Egypt queries Mursi over documents "leaked" to Al…

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt is investigating jailed ex-president Mohamed Mursi in connection with documents that judicial investigators say were leaked to the Qatar-based Al Jazeera…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

Movies

Criterion's new Jacques Demy box mixes the light…

Jacques Demy, the most effervescent of French New Wave filmmakers, gets a Criterion box all to himself, with classics like "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg."

Entertainment

Comedian Joan Rivers, 81, rushed to New York…

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Acerbic comedian and fashion critic Joan Rivers was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on Thursday after she reportedly…

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

4 healthy ingredient swaps to make your meals…

When it comes to eating well, everyone knows they could be doing better. But cooking in an apartment on a busy schedule is a recipe…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…