Black Women Who Slayed History: Janet Mock
This Black History Month, we’re highlighting the black woman who helped make our world what it is today. Today, we honor author and trans activist Janet Mock.
Janet Mock was born in Honolulu, and is one of the most influential voices in transgender rights activism. She was actually born as Charles, and then began transitioning to female beginning in her freshman year of high school.
She paid for the transition with money she earned while being a sex worker, and chose the name Janet after Janet Jackson.
Janet attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa and during her freshmen year, she flew to alone Thailand for a gender confirmation surgery during Christmas Break. After receiving a Bachelor’s in Fashion Merchandising from the University of Hawaii, she then graduated from New York University with a Master’s in Journalism.
Her first job was a staff editor at People Magazine, and then her entire life, and career, changed in 2011 when she came out as transgender in a Marie Claire article. Despite the controversial headline, the piece really shed light on the lives of transgender women of color and helped propel her to the level of influence she has now. She even went on to become a contributing editor at Marie Claire and wrote Nicki Minaj’s 2016 cover story.
Janet got her first book deal in 2012 after the Marie Claire article for a memoir which was released in 2014 called “Redefining Realness” which went on to be a New York Times Best Seller. It was also the first book ever written by a transgender person who transitioned at a young age.
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After the book did really well, Janet decided to leave People Magazine and started hosting live TV. One of her first gigs was her very own show on MSNBC called “So POPular!” which was about culture and social issues. Janet also covered some spots on Melissa Harris-Perry’s show.
In terms of activism, Janet has been nothing short of a superstar.
Janet started the Twitter hashtag #GirlsLikeUS which empowered trans-women to embrace themselves.
She’s also been on the board of directors of the Arcus Foundations since 2013, which charitably supports LGBT rights. when Monica Jones was wrongfully arrested in 2014 after being profiled by police as a transgender sex worker, Janet spoke out against the law that allows police to profile trans women of color.
Time Magazine named her as one of the most influential people on the internet in 2015.
Janet has also created several TV shows and concerning trans issues. “The Trans List,” which she produced, aired in December 2016 on HBO, and is going to executive produce the MSNBC original series “Beyond My Body” this year.
Even more recently, she spoke at the Women’s March on Washington advocating for the inclusion of Trans rights. Her newest book, “Surpassing Certainty: What My Twenties Taught Me” is coming out in June of this year.