Janet Mock in 2012
March 10, 1983 |
Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.
|Residence||New York, New York|
|Known for||Redefining Realness, transgender activism|
|Spouse(s)||Aaron Tredwell (m. 2015)|
Janet Mock (born March 10, 1983) is an American writer, TV host, transgender rights activist, author of the New York Times bestseller Redefining Realness, contributing editor for Marie Claire, and former staff editor of People magazine's website.
Early life and education
Janet Mock was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, the second child in the family, and spent most of her youth in her native Hawaii, and a portion in Oakland, California and Dallas. Her father is African American and her mother is native Hawaiian. She began her transition from male to female as a freshman in high school, and funded her medical transition by earning money as a sex worker in her teens. She also played volleyball in high school, a sport she had bonded over with her childhood friend Wendi, who helped Janet express her femininity. She chose her name Janet after Janet Jackson. She underwent sex reassignment surgery in Thailand at age 18 in the middle of her first year in college. She was the first person in her family to go to college. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Fashion Merchandising from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and a Master of Arts in Journalism from New York University in 2006.[when?]
After graduating from New York University with a master's degree in journalism, Mock started her career at People magazine, where she was a staff editor for more than five years. Her career in journalism shifted from editor to media advocate when she came out publicly as a trans woman in a 2011 Marie Claire article, written by Kierna Mayo in Mock's own voice. Mock took issue with how the magazine misgendered her by stating she was born and raised as a boy. "I was born in what doctors proclaim is a boy’s body. I had no choice in the assignment of my sex at birth... My genital reconstructive surgery did not make me a girl. I was always a girl." In 2014, while promoting her book Redefining Realness, she would reiterate that she did not choose the Marie Claire article title, and found it to have many problems. The editor of that piece, Lea Goldman, would later tweet in support of Mock: "To be fair, I do recall @janetmock & @kiernamayo taking issue with our @marieclaire hed, "I Was Born a Boy." I went with it anyway. #regrets"  Despite the misgendering, Mock became a contributing editor at Marie Claire where she's written articles about racial representation in film and television as well as trans women's presence in the global beauty industry.
She submitted a video about her experiences as a transgender woman to the "It Gets Better" project in 2011, and has written on a variety of topics for Marie Claire, Elle, The Advocate, Huffington Post and XoJane.
In 2012, Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, signed Mock to her first book deal for a memoir about her teenage years, which was released as Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More in February 2014. It is the first book written by a trans person who transitioned as a young person. Redefining Realness made the New York Times bestseller list for hardcover nonfiction, and contains her personal memories often alongside statistics or social theory. 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."
Shortly after signing her book deal, she left her position as an editor at People.com where she had worked for more than five years. Janet went on to host Take Part Live and her own culture show, So POPular!, on MSNBC's Shift. The weekly digital series takes a look at cultural issues and breaks down all of the things we pretend we're too smart to like. Mock has stated, in a Q&A with Tribune Business News, that her heroes and influences have been women writers such as Zora Neale Hurston, Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, and Toni Morrison.
While taping So POPular!, she continued to work with MSNBC as a guest host for the Melissa Harris-Perry show, host of the Global Citizen Festival, and covered the White House Correspondence Dinner's red carpet for Shift. She's also a special correspondent for Entertainment Tonight.
In April 2015, Oprah Winfrey invited Janet to be a guest on Super Soul Sunday for a segment titled, “Becoming Your Most Authentic Self” where she discussed "proudly and unapologetically" claiming her identities. In September 2015, Janet was invited back to join Winfrey's Super Soul Sessions where Mock discussed, "Embracing The Otherness."
In addition to Super Soul Sunday, Mock has appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher, Melissa Harris-Perry, The Colbert Report, and The Nightly Show. She is featured in an LGBT documentary, The OUT List, which screened on HBO on June 27, 2013. She is also featured in a 2011 documentary called Dressed.
In 2012, she started a Twitter hashtag to empower transgender women, called #GirlsLikeUs, which received attention from several queer-media sites. Also in 2012, she gave the Lavender Commencement keynote speech honoring LGBT students at the University of Southern California and delivered the commencement address for Pitzer College in 2015. She also served as co-chair, nominee and presenter at the 2012 GLAAD Media Awards.
In 2014, following the conviction of activist (and transgender woman of color) Monica Jones, Mock joined a campaign against a Phoenix law which allows police to arrest anyone suspected of "manifesting prostitution", which targets transgender women of color. Mock tweeted, "Speak against the profiling of #TWOC [trans woman of color], like Monica Jones. Tweet #StandWithMonica + follow @SWOPPhx [Sex Workers Outreach Project – Phoenix Chapter] now!"
Also in 2014, Mock was featured on the fifth anniversary cover of C☆NDY magazine along with 13 other transgender women – Laverne Cox, Carmen Carrera, Geena Rocero, Isis King, Gisele Alicea, Leyna Ramous, Dina Marie, Nina Poon, Juliana Huxtable, Niki M'nray, Pêche Di, Carmen Xtravaganza and Yasmine Petty.
Her book publisher, Atria (an imprint of Simon & Schuster), announced in March 2016 that Mock is working her second memoir with them. Surpassing Certainty, her second memoir, was promised to "pick up where Redefining Realness left off – chronicling 'the journey of finding her way, her voice, and her purpose in her 20s through a series of first experiences.'"
Mock wrote the cover story for The Advocate's March 2016 feature on DeRay Mckesson, titled "Why DeRay Mckesson Matters" as well as Marie Claire's November 2016 feature on Nicki Minaj, titled "Nicki Minaj Is Here To Slay."
On December 5, 2016, "The Trans List" aired on HBO. The film was produced by Mock along with director Timothy Greenfield-Sanders. Mock also interviewed the cast, which features eleven prominent transgender figures: Laverne Cox, Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, Buck Angel, Kylar Broadus, Caroline Cossey, Shane Ortega, Alok Vaid-Menon, Nicole Maines, Bamby Salcedo, Amos Mac and Caitlyn Jenner.
In 2017, Surpassing Certainty, Mock's second memoir, was published. The book's title is an allusion to Audre Lorde, who wrote, "And at last you'll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking."
Honors and awards
Mock was included in the Trans 100, the first annual list recognizing 100 transgender advocates in the United States, and gave the keynote speech at the launch event on March 29, 2013 in Chicago.
On November 14, 2013, Mock was honored as a member of the OUT100, Out Magazine's 100 "most compelling people of the year" and introduced Laverne Cox as the recipient of the Reader's Choice Award at the event. She was also named one of GOOD Magazine's GOOD 100 for "Building An Online Army to Defend #GirlsLikeUs."
In 2014, Mock also was included as part of The Advocate's annual "40 Under 40" list, as well as their list of 50 Most Influential LGBT People in Media. That same year, Mock was also included in the annual Root 100; this list honors "standout black leaders, innovators and culture shapers" aged 45 and younger and Planned Parenthood presented the Maggie Award for Media Excellence in "Social Media Campaign" to Mock for her work in creating a powerful and safe space for trans voices online and beyond through her #RedefiningRealness Tumblr page.
In 2015, Time magazine named her one of "the 30 Most Influential People on the Internet" and one of "12 New Faces of Black Leadership" and Fast Company included Mock as one of 2015's "Most Creative People in Business."
In February 2015, the American Library Association honored Redefining Realness with the Stonewall Book Award. Later that year, Mock's book was nominated as a Lambda Literary Award finalist in the category of transgender non-fiction and The Women's Way awarded Mock with their Book Prize.
Along with Tiq Milan and Candis Cayne, Mock accepted an award in honor of Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera's lives and work at the 2016 LOGO Trailblazer Honors. She referred to Marsha and Sylvia as "[her] fairy godmothers because they created the blueprint for our liberation."
Mock lives in New York City with her husband, photographer Aaron Tredwell, whom she married on Oahu on November 5, 2015. She writes about her relationship with Tredwell in Redefining Realness.
In February 2014, Mock joined Piers Morgan Live on CNN, for a face-to-face interview. After the show aired, the interview resulted in a Twitter feud between the Piers Morgan Live team and Mock. She accused them of "sensationalizing her life" by focusing on her personal and physical life instead of her new book, Redefining Realness. Mock told BuzzFeed that Morgan did not "really want to talk about trans issues, he wants to sensationalize my life and not really talk about the work that I do and what the purpose of me writing this book was about." Morgan was on the other end of large criticism from the LGBTQ community, resulting in Mock's second invitation onto the show. Morgan attempted to understand the root of the criticism as Mock explained the problem with the way trans bodies and their lives are represented in mainstream media.
To address the controversy, Mock appeared on The Colbert Report on February 18, 2014, where the host skewered Morgan and gave Mock space to speak about her book, advocacy and the need to listen to trans people when they declare who they are. In an interview with Fusion's Alicia Menendez, Mock and Menendez flipped the script and used the Morgan interview as a teaching lesson by putting Mock on the questioning end of the interview to flip the conversation around gender. Mock as the interviewer asked Menendez to prove her gender with questions like "do you have a vagina" to prove that she is cisgender, interrogating the ways in which trans people are questioned by the media.
- 2014 : Redefining Realness: My Path To Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More
- 2017 : Surpassing Certainty: What My Twenties Taught Me
- An interview with Janet Mock is featured in the book Queer and Trans Artists of Color: Stories of Some of Our Lives (2014) co-edited by Nia King with Jessica Glennon-Zukoff and Terra Mikalson.
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I am a trans woman. My sisters are trans women. We are not secrets. We are not shameful. We are worthy of respect, desire, and love. As there are many kinds of women, there are many kinds of men, and many men desire many kinds of women, trans women are amongst these women. And let's be clear: Trans women are women.
- 'More Than A Pretty Face': Sharing My Journey To Womanhood, quote=I was born in what doctor's proclaim is a boy's body. I had no choice in the assignment of my sex at birth. I take issue with the two instances in the piece: The first instance proclaims, “Until she was 18, Janet was a boy,” and then it goes on to say, “I even found other boys like me there…” My genital reconstructive surgery did not make me a girl. I was always a girl.
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- "Laverne Cox, Carmen Carrera, Among 14 Trans Stars On "Candy" Magazine Cover". NewNowNext.
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- "Nicki Minaj Is Here to Slay". Marie Claire. October 11, 2016. Retrieved November 10, 2016.
- Maines, Nicole. "11 Transgender Americans Share Their Stories In HBO's 'The Trans List'". NPR.org. Retrieved 2017-01-10.
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- Alicia Menendez
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