Janet Mock's Story Is One of Trans Activism & Achievement -- & She Wants You to Listen

When we talk about trans rights and identity, we talk about Janet Mock. When we talk about Women's History Month and the most influential women in history, we also talk about Janet Mock. And when we talk about the most moving writers, editors, and communicators of our time, we, of course, talk about Janet Mock. She's a trans activist, sure. But she's so much more. And if you're ever blessed enough to meet her, you talk to her about her gender identity, but you also talk to her about Ben Affleck's tattoo and the dress she's wearing and the novel she wrote and her thoughts on Donald Trump. No one puts Janet Mock in a corner.


Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1983, Janet Mock is a mixed-race trans woman of color currently living and working in New York City. But somehow, that doesn't even begin to cover it.

Who She Is

Let's just get this out of the way first: Janet Mock is one of those people who's annoyingly good at everything she does. Her New York Times best-selling memoir, Redefining Realness, for example, will be one of the most moving pieces of literature you'll ever read. Her TV show, So POPular!, will have some of the best and funniest interviews you'll ever watch. The editing she does at Marie Claire and did at People.com is as sharp and insightful as any you've ever seen. Any article she writes will make you cry. 

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So who is she? She's an author, activist, TV host, editor, and writer. She's a goddamn gem of a human with a sharp sense of style and an even sharper wit. She smiles sunshine. What else do you need to know?

How She's Shaping History

Since coming out publicly as a trans woman in 2011, Janet Mock has been rewriting the conversation we have about trans identity, trans people, and trans safety. She's one of the biggest voices reworking the vocabulary we use to talk about and with trans people, and she's showing us, with gentleness and grace, how to respect the trans community and set up a culture that values them and keeps them safe.

Janet's work has showed an entire generation of young people how to be themselves. That sounds simple, but it's not. Her #GirlsLikeUs hashtag is an advocacy organization and a safe meeting space all wrapped up as one, and every article, appearance, and speech she makes proves that being trans isn't just about being trans. It's about being everything else, too.

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Her Words to Live By

At her core, Janet is a story teller. Her story is enormously important, but she thinks yours is, too:

I believe that telling our stories, first to ourselves and then to one another and the world, is a revolutionary act. It is an act that can be met with hostility, exclusion, and violence. It can also lead to love, understanding, transcendence, and community. I hope that my being real with you will help empower you to step into who you are and encourage you to share yourself with those around you.

Why She Inspires Me

When we talk about fearlessness, we usually talk about war heroes and protesters and firefighters. And we should. They deserve it. But Janet Mock deserves the title, too. She's brave for existing in a world that isn't set up to include her, and she's braver still for carving out enough space for herself and all the trans people following behind her.

Even more than that, though, Janet Mock inspires me because kindness and compassion radiate from her. She deals with dump trucks full of bullsh-t gently, firmly, and gracefully. I think we'd all be better people if we walked the way she does, and so that's what I try to do.


Image via Efren S. Landaos/Press Line Photos/Corbis

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