Sunday, March 2, 2014

Redefining Realness by Janet Mock


Once I found out about this book, I started counting down the days until its release. It was published on February 4th and I finished reading it just over one week later.

Janet Mock tells a story unlike one that I’ve ever read. She is a trans woman of color, who “came out” publicly in a Marie Claire article in 2011. The article had an unexpected spin, repeatedly referring to her as a boy when in fact, she had been a girl in a boy’s body. It would be 3 years before she could share her journey in her own words.

I did not want to put this book down. I read it because I thought I would enjoy it. I had no idea that I would relate to it. Mock starts her story from the beginning, growing up as a black child in the 80’s. And in that regard, we are the same. But this story is familiar in another way as well. It makes you remember those times when you may have been hiding some part of yourself, hoping that, as Mock would say, no one sees you.

However, I cannot minimize her story. Her journey is unfamiliar to most. Mock knew from a very early age that even though she was born male, a boy, she was not. She tries to conform to society's gender roles, unsuccessfully, for several years as a boy. Eventually, she begins to embrace her true self. But what she had to deal with alongside this process are not experiences that any child should have.

Mock is molested for years by her father’s girlfriend’s son, abandoned by her mother for several years, a witness to drug abuse by both parents, and a witness to violence towards her mother. And before it’s all said and done, Mock spends a short time as sex worker to earn the funds for her gender reassignment surgery.

Tenacity and resilience may be an understatement when referring to this well read author who has been influenced by countless writers. She drew strength from the writings of Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison,  Maya Angelou, Audre Lorde, and bell hooks to name a few from the impressive list.

Because I loved the book, also attended Mock’s Google Chat and book tour. In my summary post, you will find two statements from Mock herself that will sum up this book better than I did with this entire review.

“People assume that I was in the closet because I didn't disclose that I was assigned male at birth…….Frankly, I’m not responsible for other people’s perceptions and what they consider real or fake.” Redefining Realness

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Redefining Realness on Amazon

1 comment:

Alysia A said...

I never heard of her. What an interesting story.