What Janet Mock Can Teach Us About Womanhood and ‘Realness’
Mock shared her truth with her family when she was 13, but her struggles with gender identity began way before then. In her book she describes what it was like growing up in California with her father, who constantly policed her gender, and later back in Hawaii, where she was born, with her mother, who was never able to live up to the image Mock “had projected onto her, the image of the perfect mother,” as she often put the men in her life before Mock and her other children. Mock’s relationship with her younger brother, Chad, also was strained at times when they both were figuring out their respective identities. Mock admits in the book to worrying Chad would be disappointed she was not “being a better big brother” while they were growing up and she was “learning the world, unsure, unstable, wobbly, living somewhere between confusion, discovery, and conviction.” She also had a difficult relationship with many of her schoolmates and educators who failed to “grasp the varied identities, needs, and determinations of trans people” and therefore made her formative years miserable. All of these relationships were managed by Mock under dire circumstances; Mock’s family, both in California and Hawaii, was no stranger to poverty and addiction.
Without support and guidance from her personal network and other trans girls and trans women, without a memoir like Redefining Realness to guide her, she became isolated and an “easier target” for a sexual abuser.