So the other day Spank and I were having a very random conversation about LL Cool J and his GAP commercial that was FUBU commercial and how this NEVER woulda happened if they had even ONE black person in the room.  And she responded by telling me about a movie made about transgendered folk with NO TRANSGENDERED INPUT and she was not with this at all. Like, AT. ALL. She went on to say that obviously the best person to tell a story about a community would be a person from that community (see: reason I didn’t go see Green Book even though my boo Mahershala Ali is in it and for him I’d definitely… you know what? This isn’t what I came here to talk about), and instead Hollywood keeps giving country to white people when other people are RIGHT THERE ready and willing and CAPABLE of telling their own damn story (that does not center white people…Oh)

And one such person is Janet Mock. Writer, television host, director, producer and transgender rights activist.

Janet (who chose her name after Janet Jackson – I swear that Janet Jackson popping up in all of these facts is pure coincidence. Anybody who knows me well, knows that I do not plan these facts even though I keep saying that I will) began her transition from male to female as a freshman in high school, and funded her medical transition by earning money as a sex worker in her teens.

Mock started working at People magazine, where she was a staff editor for more than five years. Her career in journalism shifted from editor to media advocate when she came out publicly as a trans woman in a 2011 Marie Claire article, written by Kierna Mayo in Mock’s voice. She went on to become a contributing editor at Marie Claire, where she has written articles about racial representation in film and television as well as trans women’s presence in the global beauty industry. In 2012, Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, signed Mock to her first book deal for a memoir about her teenage years which was released as Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More in February 2014. It is the first book written by a trans person who transitioned as a young person. Feminist critic bell hooks referred to Janet’s memoir as, “Courageous! This book is a life map for transformation” while Melissa Harris-Perry said, “Janet does what only great writers of autobiography accomplish—she tells a story of the self, which turns out to be a reflection of all humanity.”

This Janet has also been a VERY BUSY BEE, so some highlights:

  • In 2012, she started a Twitter hashtag to empower transgender women, called #GirlsLikeUs, which received attention from several queer-media sites.
  • In 2014, Mock was featured on the fifth anniversary cover of C☆NDY magazine along with 13 other transgender women – Laverne Cox, Carmen Carrera, Geena Rocero, Isis King, Gisele Alicea, Leyna Ramous, Dina Marie, Nina Poon, Juliana Huxtable, Niki M’nray, Pêche Di, Carmen Xtravaganza and Yasmine Petty.
  • In 2017, Surpassing Certainty, Mock’s second memoir, was published. The book’s title is an allusion to Audre Lorde, who wrote, “And at last you’ll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.”

But my favorite thing is this: Janet is a writer, director AND producer on the TV Show, Pose on FX. She is the FIRST Trans woman of color (ahem, Black Woman) hired as a writer for a TV series in history. The series has been congratulated for casting actual trans women in trans roles and for accurately depicting a unique queer subculture. In 2018 Mock directed the episode of Pose titled “Love Is the Message”, thus making her the first transgender woman of color (Hi there! Stop saying woman of color when you mean Black woman Wikipedia! Please and thanks!) to write and direct any television episode.

I know you’re thinking to yourself WTF you mean, highlights?! Like, that’s a pretty big milestone yeah? BUT HERE IS THE THING. 2019 just got started! And it looks like she did too!

Anyway. That’s today’s BHFOTD, folks. Janet Mock is here to slay.

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