Janet Mock: Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More

by Rachel Baker on March 2, 2015

You know how sometimes you read a book that you aren’t really sure you will relate to, but you think there’s something about it that might touch you? Well, that’s how I felt about Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More. I saw Janet Mock on “Real Time with Bill Maher”. I had never heard of her before; but I was intrigued by her confidence and honesty. She was comfortable in her skin and the woman that she is. For someone who is just beginning to understand what being comfortable with the woman that she is, Ms. Mock was inspiring. As I’m wont to do, I began researching who she is; and I couldn’t believe the courage this woman possessed. I couldn’t wait until the next paycheck to buy her book, Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More.

I bought it Friday, read the first chapter that night and went to bed. When I woke up Saturday, I decided I was going to devote the weekend to this book. I finished at 1pm on Sunday; and I must confess I’m more in awe of this woman than I thought possible. I am a cis woman who joined the military; a cis woman who had the girl beaten out of me through degradation, humiliation and intimidation. It is only now, 20 years later, that I am trying to figure what my woman-ness means to me and how that makes me who I am and will be in the future. I have recently been able to say, I am a Veteran; and say it with a conviction that means I don’t have to say I’m a female veteran; because there’s nothing to apologize for and there’s nothing to feel less-than about. The most important part of my growth is the understanding that being a female veteran is not what defines me – Being a Woman and Being a Veteran are what defines me. While my path is completely different than Janet Mock’s path, I can relate to some of her experiences and the path to defining identity and womanhood has been similar enough for me to feel incredible empathy while reading this book.

While reading Redefining Realness, I couldn’t help but get absorbed. Though I’d not read anything by Ms. Mock previously, I couldn’t help but feel she was an enormously talented storyteller. She has a voice that beckons you to make a cup of tea and sit down in your favorite chair and listen with your heart; to continue reading; to open yourself to what she’s educating you about. While I fully believe this book would be one of inspiration for those who may be growing up as Ms. Mock did, I would be completely remiss if I didn’t say this book would be an incredibly beneficial read for those of us who have absolutely no idea what it might be like to be anything other than cis. Ms. Mock, while telling her story, includes the statistics and the experiences of others who have journeyed down the same path. One point that truly touched me was the point she made about the journey not being over just because a trans has had the surgery. I’d not considered there may be so much more personal growth after the surgery, but I can’t help but feel there may be just as many internal battles as there was before the surgery; and the new experience and challenges shouldn’t be discounted by those of us that may not understand.

My final thoughts on this book are this: Lately, I have been inspired by many autobiographical books written by women who are telling their stories. Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More is by far one of the best and most inspiring. Ms. Mock’s story is the story of one courageous young girl becoming the best woman she can – she had to take a path less traveled and a path that many of us may not ever truly understand. Redefining Realness is a must read that will hopefully result in a deeper acceptance amongst society.

Thank you, Janet Mock for courageously telling your story!

This article was written by: Rachel Baker – Click to follow on Twitter; or you can follow her at The Crafty Veteran on Bloglovin

Summary: In this New York Times bestseller—the first transgender memoir written by an African American—an extraordinary young woman recounts her coming-of-age. “Undercurrents of strong emotion swirl throughout this well-written book…An enlightening, much-needed perspective on transgender identity” (Kirkus Reviews).

In 2011, Marie Claire magazine published a profile of Janet Mock in which she stepped forward for the first time as a trans woman. Those twenty-three hundred words were life-altering for the People.com editor, turning her into an influential and outspoken public figure and a desperately needed voice for an often voiceless community. In these pages, she offers a bold and inspiring perspective on being young, multicultural, economically challenged, and transgender in America.

This “heart-rending autobiography of love, longing, and fulfillment” (bell hooks, author of All About Love) follows Mock’s quest for identity, from an early, unwavering conviction about her gender to a turbulent adolescence in Honolulu that saw her transitioning during the tender years of high school, self-medicating with hormones at fifteen, and flying across the world alone for sex reassignment surgery at just eighteen. Despite the hurdles, Mock received a scholarship to college and moved to New York City, where she earned a master’s degree and enjoyed the success of an enviable career. Now, with unflinching honesty, Mock uses her own experience to impart vital insight about the unique challenges and vulnerabilities of trans youth and brave girls like herself.

A profound statement of affirmation from a courageous woman, Redefining Realness provides a whole new outlook on what it means to be a woman today, and shows as never before how to be authentic, unapologetic, and wholly yourself.

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