Reading Redefining Realness



A short book reflection by Shira Devorah 

Just a few moments ago I finished Janet Mock’s memoir, Redefining Realness, My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More. I’m still stunned. I’m not much of a memoir reader, but I’m pretty sure this book has changed that.

here’s a link to buy the book on Amazon!

Thanks to a generous donation from UMBC’s LGBTQ Faculty & Staff Association, I was able to snatch up this book from the Women’s Center’s very own lending library! Over the past couple of days, I have been relishing every moment of Janet Mock and her story. Mock, a trans woman of color, takes her readers through her life from early childhood until now. In a whirlwind of wit and poignancy, she shares herself with us.

I am not ashamed to admit that I cried a whole bunch throughout this book. Mock fought tooth and nail to become the woman she is today, and though she has been through a lot of pain and oppression, she never falters in her stance as an activist. Every personal recollection comes with a lesson Mock has for her readers. She challenges us to be better people, to see others more complexly, to  be critical of systems of inequality and injustice that exist all around us. Mock allows her readers to peak into incredibly sensitive parts of her, and trusts us to learn from the barriers she faced in her girlhood and adolescence.

I think this memoir is a wonderful introduction to intersectional identities and social justice. Any person who picks up this book will be gently introduced to many concepts that they might not have been privy to beforehand.  While I feel like I know a bit about many issues touched upon in this book, I have been changed  by her discussions. Mock pushes readers to confront poverty, trans issues, multiculturalism, drug use, sexual abuse and sex work. White, middle-class people like me  are made to confront our privilege and come out of this book with a better understanding of other’s lives. I am so lucky to get a chance to grow with Janet through the pages of her self discovery.

I highly suggest this book to anyone and everyone. As a trigger warning, Mock discusses her personal experiences of sexual abuse and sex work, so please practice self care if you plan to borrow this book from the Women’s Center after I return it.

If you’ve already read Redefining Realness and need more Janet Mock in your life, check out her awesome blog!

If you want more  info about the book itself, here’s a quick interview she did with Slate back in 2014.

I first learned about Janet Mock through Her Story, an awesome web-series  written by and starring trans women, so you should totally check that out.  Here’s an Interview with Janet and Jen Richards, co-creator of HerStory.

So go out there and read, friends! I’ll be updating periodically on the rest of my summer reading books from my summer reading challenge. Happy Reading!

1 thought on “Reading Redefining Realness”

  1. I had been meaning to read this book for quite some time, and then when I saw your post on the summer reading challenge, I decided to jump in with you! I read it two weeks ago, and LOVED it. I was especially impressed with the way Janet Mock wove together her personal story with didactic/factual information. I think some people are fabulous at writing memoirs, and other people are fabulous at writing other kinds of nonfiction, but I think it’s the rare person who can do both at once without sounding preachy or unnatural. It really was beautifully written! So grateful you prompted me to get moving on my summer reading list!

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