vel veeter called Redefining Realness “an impossible book to write” — primarily because Mock has to decide how to tell her story without making grand claims of representation for others. I agree with this assessment, and add that it’s always hard to review a book about someone’s life. However — I feel it was overall a very successful book.
“Being exceptional isn’t revolutionary, it’s lonely. It separates you from your community. Who are you, really, without community? I have been held up consistently as a token, as the “right” kind of trans woman (educated, able-bodied, attractive, articulate, heteronormative). It promotes the delusion that because I “made it,” that level of success is easily accessible to all young trans women. Let’s be clear: It is not.”
Janet Mock was born in Hawaii, her parents’ third child and their first son. At a young age, she and her younger brother moved to Oakland with their father, while their mother stayed in Hawaii with her sisters. Janet, despite always feeling different from other boys her age, felt a lot of pressure from her father to act more masculine. She eventually moved back to Hawaii, where she began to allow her outside to match her insides a bit more and made changes to her appearance and her behavior. This was very partially due to the support of her mother; mostly, she was ignored by her family and left to fend for herself.
It’s a rough story — the neglect, the torment from other kids, the paths she was forced into to pay for her way of life. The writing is not…excellent. It’s a little overwrought, in my opinion. But it’s an incredible story, and grabbed me from the very beginning.