Friday, July 10, 2015

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

The mainstream media has been rich with stories about transgender experiences lately, but Janet Mock was an early advocate and voice - this book was published in 2014, and she first went public with her story in 2011 with an article in Marie Claire magazine.

The more transition tales we hear, the more depth of understanding we gain. Janet's story is familiar in many ways (sexual abuse, identity confusion, poverty, ridicule) and also truly unique. She was fortunate that with her mother and many siblings she received understanding and acceptance that others, unfortunately, do not.

But the book also provides fascinating insight into her experiences as a mixed-race (Hawaiian and black) child; Janet's identity struggles and self-perception were different based on which parent she lived with, on the mainland or in Hawaii. For example, Hawaii's diversity boasts a wide pallette of skin color "browns" thanks to ancestry of native and Asian descents along with blends from everywhere else - but there's also a very strong ethnic-biased social pecking order.

I enjoyed the book immensely - it's written extremely well, and I found it easy to get wrapped up in the story and root for this scrappy little kid to blossom into the confident woman we see on the jacket cover. I especially appreciated Mock's honesty about the good, the bad, and the ugly of her story - while there are parts she's not proud about, it's still part of the story and told unflinchingly.

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