Janet Mock (1983- ), writer and speaker, is one of the leading American voices for transgender women of colour. She has appeared in the Huffington Post, The Telegraph, NPR, MSNBC, the London Times and elsewhere. She used to be an editor at People.com. She started the #GirlsLikeUs campaign on Twitter. She took part of the It Gets Better Project.
Transgender means she was a he – one Charles Mock, in fact, the son of a native Hawaiian mother and a Black American father in Hawaii. At about age four it came to her that she was a girl in a boy’s body. It was something she could not shake. At five she put on a dress on a dare. It was a wonderful feeling – but the look on her grandmother’s face told her that she had crossed a line. She started hiding who she truly was, like playing with Barbie dolls behind closed doors.
By age eight her parents had split up. Her mother sent her and her brother to live with their father in Oakland, California. Her father noticed she acted like a girl and asked if she was gay. She was not sure what that meant, but she could tell her father thought it was something bad.
At age 12 she was sent back to Hawaii – and a good thing too. Hawaii in the 1990s was more accepting of transgender people. There were families, for example, that let their boys wear dresses and make-up. Her mother was accepting like that too. So when Mock began wearing women’s clothes to school at about age 15, her mother supported it. People at school called her names and never let her forget that she was “really” a boy, but they did not beat her up. The vice principal at school said she was making people “uncomfortable” and threatened to send her home if she kept wearing women’s clothes. None of that stopped her from being who she truly was.
Her boy’s body was starting to turn into that of a man. She hated how she looked. She was wondering if she should cut off her penis! Fortunately, because her mother supported her transgender identity, she was able to go to the doctor to get started on the right drugs. At age 18 she had a sex change operation. For the first time in her life she felt right in her body.
She went to the University of Honolulu and then went to New York to study journalism. In New York few knew she was transgender. But then in 2011 there was a string of murders and suicides of LGBT youths. As a writer she could not sit by in silence. She needed to be that person she never had growing up – someone who speaks up in public for transgender women of colour. She outed herself in the May 2011 issue of Marie Claire: “I Was a Boy”.
- Marie Claire: “I Was a Boy”
- YouTube: Janet Mock Interview: A Conversation with Clay Cane – excellent!
- Read her at: Huffington Post, xoJane, Tumblr, Twitter