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Strange Fruit: Writer Janet Mock Redefines Realness in Transgender Activism

Janet Mock

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When you think about the current state of trans activism, the name Janet Mock is probably at the top of your mind. But there was a time when Mock was living a relatively low-profile life, working as a journalist outside the spotlight—until a friend recommended her for a profile in Marie Claire magazine. The article’s publication changed the course of her work, and life. Lucky for all of us.
"I didn't plan the role model part of it or the advocate part of it," she explained. "I think that all just kind of started. I realized after the piece came out that there was such a hunger to hear more about young trans women of color experiences.

"I think my writing just kind of went there because I think there was a need to hear more about that, and I think there was also a need within myself to share more about parts of myself that I'd kept silent for so long."

Janet is still a writer, but now she's also an activist—and one of the most recognizable faces in trans advocacy. In many ways, she's become the role model she didn't have while growing up.

"People often say that I'm a role model," she says. "I feel like I'm a real model. Like, there's a real model of how you can do it. I'm existing. I'm out in the world. I'm still discovering who I am. I'm not playing a role. I'm being real. This is my life."

In her book, " Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More," she tells her story and shares some of what she's learned along the way.

On this week's show, we talk to Janet about her work, her life, and the wisdom she hopes to impart on today's trans girls of color.
"The biggest lesson that I've ever learned in my life is to just truly fight for who you are, and not let anyone—not even your own body—tell you that you can't do something that you know you're supposed to be doing."

When we asked Janet who some of her  own role models are, she name-checked  TransGriot blogger  Monica Roberts. Monica is a long-time friend and auntie to the show, so we thought we’d close this episode with some words of wisdom from her, recorded when she was in town last summer.

Laura is LPM's Director of Podcasts & Special Projects. Email Laura at lellis@lpm.org.