Janet Mock is a New York Times best selling author. She is the host of MSNBC’s So POPular! and a public speaker. She was named one of “12 new faces of black leadership” by Time magazine. She is a contributing editor for Marie Claire and a correspondent for Entertainment Tonight. She is the creator of the #GirlsLikeUs hashtag on twitter. She is an icon, an activist and a true inspiration. It is hard to be a member of the transgender community and not know who Janet Mock is.
Her story began in Honolulu, Hawaii. Her mother was native Hawaiian and her father was African-American. She was born Charles, but Janet’s transgender journey started at the age of 5. It was on a dare from a friend when she put on a muumuu and ran across a nearby parking lot when she first began to understand her true identity. The feeling of freedom from being able to put on a dress even in the face of getting yelled at by her grandmother. From that point on Janet did her best to hide her femininity. Her parents often picked up on it however and her feminine behaviors were frowned upon as she was growing up.
“Growing up trans is a struggle. I constantly wished that my body matched the vision I had of myself. I didn’t understand why I wasn’t like other girls, and those differences became the daunting obstacle of my first 18 years.”
Her parents eventually split up and Janet was sent to live with her father in Oakland, California. The thought was that having a good male role model would break her from her feminine ways. At the age of 12, she returned to Honolulu to live with her mother. It was then when she met Wendi, a transgender girl who Janet credits as the person who first picked up on and encouraged her to be her true self.
The more Janet was true to herself the more she had to deal with harassment both from the students and her school administration. Janet was presenting female and her school tried to discourage it. After her sophomore year she switched schools and from that point on she would be only known as Janet to her school and peers. Janet began her transition at the age of 15. She would head to college as the woman she was meant to be.
Janet had her confirmation surgery at the age of 18 in Thailand. She went on to receive 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. At the time living a life of stealth, Janet went on to land her dream job as an editor for People magazine.
“Normal is so basic. Owning who we are is power.”
It was in 2011 that Janet decided she could no longer live a life of stealth if she was to truly be herself. She came out with her story in an article for Marie Claire. Janet Mock went on to be an activist and icon for the transgender community. In 2012, Mock created transgender-specific programs and education for the LGBTQ youth center of the Hetrick-Martin Institute. The Sylvia Rivera Law Project gave her their Sylvia Rivera Activist Award. In 2013 she joined the board of directors of the Arcus Foundation. In 2014, she released her New York Times best selling memoir, Redefining Realness.
Janet Mock is currently the host of MSNBC’s So POPular!, which airs on Fridays at 11:00 AM ET. She currently lives in New York City with her husband, photographer Aaron Tredwell.
To learn more about Janet Mock’s amazing story be sure to check out her best selling book Redefining Realness. She recently took part in Oprah Winfrey’s Supersoul Sessions series, which you can watch here.
Janet Mock is truly amazing and inspiring. To know that young kids struggling with their identity have a beacon of hope like her to look up to warms my heart. It was something Janet and many of us did not have when we were younger. Her Supersoul Session literally blew me away and left me inspired. To me she is perfect the example of someone who knows who they are and understands the importance of being true to one’s self. It does not just affect your own life but that of others that come after you. There is an importance to not just trying to blend in. Being your true self can change the world if you allow it. Janet Mock is a true example of what it means to be an activist and one of the spokespersons of our community.