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Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  15,856 ratings  ·  1,270 reviews
In 2011, Marie Claire magazine published a profile of Janet Mock in which she stepped forward for the first time as a trans woman. Those twenty-three hundred words were life-altering for the editor, turning her into an influential and outspoken public figure and a desperately needed voice for an often voiceless community. In these pages, she offers a bold and in ...more
Hardcover, 263 pages
Published February 4th 2014 by Atria Books
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Max Harmony "Cis" just means non-trans; it's preferred because it discusses people in terms of who they are rather than who they are not.…more"Cis" just means non-trans; it's preferred because it discusses people in terms of who they are rather than who they are not.(less)

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 ·  15,856 ratings  ·  1,270 reviews

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Raymond J
Feb 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm not the biggest fan of memoirs per se, and many trans memoirs are pretty dry, redundant, and focused on white trans men. I even *am* a white trans man but most of them exhausted me. I transitioned about 14 years ago, have worked around the queer community for nearly 20 years, and have recently felt a bit jaded and exhausted by the work. But in the past year, Janet Mock has really exploded into the cultural landscape and I couldn't be more grateful for the passion, kindness, and strength she' ...more
Oct 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Appreciated this honest and courageous memoir about a Black and Indigenous woman’s transition into womanhood. Janet Mock writes with candor about growing up in a dysfunctional yet loving family, her pain and then acceptance about her gender identity, and the difficult yet powerful steps she took to claim her true identity. I liked that Mock writes about the hard, complicated emotions present within her experience, such as the ways her family both let her down and tried to care for her, as well a ...more
Heather K (dentist in my spare time)
I've been interested in Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More by Janet Mock for quite some time, so much so that I bought the book in paperback (a rare thing for me). I was hoping that the book would blow me away, and it truly did.

I consider myself well-educated on trans issues, though obviously I'm approaching them from an outside perspective. I've read at nearly three dozen books with transgender main characters, fiction (romance, mostly) and non-fiction, an
Evelyn Woagh
May 05, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2014
Note: It has been three years since I read and reviewed this book. Re-reading my review and the comments now, I think there are a couple points where I was bit too relentlessly critical, even a bit petty. For the most part I still hold my disagreements and opposition. But for context, I would like to add that at time of reading, I was homeless. And the best thing people could offer me were useless transgender memoirs, rather than something practical to me like money and safe housing. Part of my ...more
Wart Hill
A beautifully written, achingly honest story of one woman's struggle to understand, achieve, and own her truth.

Janet Mock, I salute your courage and your honesty. Thank you for writing this. I hope your story reaches Trans people - and especially Trans women - everywhere.
Mar 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: autobiography fans
Recommended to carol. by: Janet
I’ve been interested in this book ever since hearing Janet Mock talk on The Colbert Report (segment here). I loved her willingness to laugh at herself, her attempts to focus the disconcerting Colbert, her willingness to articulate identity issues on a show that specializes in sarcasm. Only in her late twenties, she’s written the story of her process of gender identity to date in Redefining Realness, an autobiography that is occasionally as telling for what is included as minimized.

Redefining Rea
Tori (InToriLex)
ind this and other Reviews at In Tori Lex

We can all benefit from educating ourselves more about what it means to a Trans person in our society. Janet details her evolution from being a boy who knows she's a girl, to living in her truth and learning what that is. It was really jarring to imagine having to hide facets of your personality, because society doesn't believe you should have them. The violence that is committed against Trans people shows the high intolerance our society has for differen
Danika at The Lesbrary
This would actually make a great introductory book if you want to learn more about trans issues or want to give it to someone you know. Mock is careful to explain concepts and doesn't assume the reader is familiar with vocabulary or basic premises. It's also, of course, well written and honest even in extremely vulnerable, difficult moments. Definitely recommended. ...more
Dec 29, 2014 rated it it was ok
Who thinks Janet Mock could pass the Bechdel Test? Not me.

While I appreciate and respect the vulnerabilities she shares in this book, I find it really hard to swallow that the premise of this books existence was basically built on the support (and need for romantic love) of a man.
Aug 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic memoir of a woman who was confident in her gender identity from a young age but struggled with family dysfunction, poverty, gender dysphoria and racism. Am absolutely brilliant study of trans living in the United States. I learnt a lot about trans phobia, appropriate language and everyday acceptance.
Jul 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It was great getting to know someone I admire so much on a deeper level. An incredibly raw story of finding one's own most authentic self. ...more
Ross Blocher
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
In Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More, Janet Mock opens herself up, exposing her most vulnerable memories and struggles, to provide encouragement to those going through similar situations and build understanding and empathy in those who aren't. ** spoilers and sexual themes ahead ** She doesn't hold back on the details of repeated abuse as a child, which she is clear to disentangle from her sexual identity and attraction: those were both fixed well before th ...more
Spider the Doof Warrior
Oct 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Read this book. It tells about Janet Mock's journey to self acceptance and womanhood. The way her family learned to cope. She realized she was different from an early age. Her family tried to stop her from being feminine, especially her father. She tried to repress it to be the perfect son, but it didn't work.

Soon she was able to get hormones and get closer to who she really is. It's interesting to finally see a book from a transgender perspective instead of a parent or a sibling bemoaning the l
The FountainPenDiva, Old school geek chick and lover of teddy bears
This is a story of triumph over adversity. Of being true to one's self in a culture that devalues the lives of ALL black women. Mock stands tall, shines bright and demands RESPECT. If that bothers you, well, go read Fifty Shades of Grey. ...more
Feb 03, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It just didn't seem well written to me. Too many sweeping statements about life lessons that she conveyed in grandiose sentences. I feel like what is unusual about her story is that she came out post-transition, after establishing herself as an adult woman, rather than most trans celebrities I can think of for whom coming out meant announcing the start of a transition. It would've been more interesting to read about her adulthood than her childhood, which mainly differs from other trans memoirs ...more
Book Riot Community
Janet Mock lives for Beyoncé…and I live for Janet Mock! I’m the exact same age as Janet, and I had such a blast getting swept up the late ’90s pop-culture backdrop of her memoir: Destiny’s Child, Janet Jackson, Aaliyah, RuPaul, The Real World, TRL. But the real joy came from her frankness and openness about her experiences becoming the woman she is today — from her childhood spent in poverty and her family’s struggles with drug addiction, to her sexual abuse as a child and her harassment when sh ...more
Mar 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I tried this one on audiobook: Janet Mock narrates her own memoir, and she's wonderful.

Mock was born a girl in a boy's body, and this is her story. I'm from Hawaii, where Janet came of age, and I learned so much about the trans community in Hawaii, and what it was like for a trans woman of color to grow up there.

Mock's story is breathtaking. I don't have the words to describe how great this book was or how much I got out of it. I would recommend this to anyone.
Nov 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
TW for child sexual abuse, drug abuse, dysfunctional family junk, forced sex work, and of course transmisogyny, cissexism, and racism!

Janet Mock is not a perfect writer. I grimaced my way through the first quarter of the book, which is full of unnecessary descriptions and awkwardly overstuffed phrases. I was puzzled by her professed love of storytelling and professional writing experience when her prose was so distractingly clunky. Those concerns fell away, however, whenever she switched gears
May 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, lgbtqiap, 2020
4.5 - Janet Mock’s memoir is an excellent exploration of womanhood, being trans, and the violence that especially impacts trans women of color. Redefining Realness mostly focuses on Janet’s life growing up, coming to understand her own gender identity, and the complicated relationships she had with her family.

She is extremely open, sharing stories of childhood sexual assault, her parents’ struggles with addiction, and her experiences with sex work. She also emphasizes that her own transition an
Jan 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I read this book because I thought I would enjoy it. I had no idea that I would relate to it. At the crux of this story, we can all relate to hiding some part of ourselves and being afraid of what will happen if someone finds out. Although this can be viewed as a heavy topic, this book had me laughing throughout. There certainly are many parts that are not laughable, but Mock does a brilliant balancing act with the content in that regard. Tenacity and resilience may be an understatement when ref ...more
Mar 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I was introduced to Janet Mock through a fascinating interview that she did on the Intersection podcast. When I learned a few months later that she was speaking on a nearby college campus, I sat enthralled through the event and bought this book so I could use an autograph request as an excuse to say hello. I'm not trans, but increased trans visibility in the last few years has encouraged me to make efforts to understand people whose stories are so vital.

Janet Mock's story, of course, is vital. S
May 13, 2017 rated it did not like it
Mock is a stunning replica, an anthropomorphic idol of patriarchy.

Not only does he advocate for the sex industry and child abuse and utilizes slurs against women like "fish", but he has been wildly accepted as an example of womanhood because he has conformed to the feminine stereotype--and thereby has been granted power to define what female means. Consequently this book flies under the radar as a "woman's" memoir of conquering a life of hardship and most readers, groomed from birth for acceptan
Honest, open, unabashedly raw account of one transwoman's journey from awareness, through her evolution into womanhood. She also isn't afraid to reveal all the pitfalls and traps for young woman with little to no resources and very little family support or understanding. You will want to weep for her even as she details how much worse things could have been. This audiobook was all the better for being read by the author & told in her own voice. ...more
A raw and touching memoir, Janet beautifully intersperses basic knowledge of the trans experience with her own personal narratives. It's impossible not to be moved by her story. ...more
Alice Lippart
Honest, compassionate, fascinating and well worth the read.
Dec 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
How do you review a book that is so impactful in so many ways, but one in which you didn’t particularly take to the writing style and took issue with the way that some things had to be laid out? It’s tough. This book tells an important narrative about a young racialized and indigenous woman transitioning into womanhood in the face of significant obstacles, transphobia being just one of many. It tells the story of a dysfunctional and abusive family that finds a way forward (Mock is WAY more forgi ...more
Redefining Realness is Janet Mock's account of growing up as a poor, multiracial trans woman in Hawaii. It's a very honest and moving account of what she went through in order to fully transition and gain the life she always wanted: a successful college graduate, she now lives in New York City with her partner. Mock writes both about her particular experiences and about the broader experiences of trans women, particular trans women of colour, and is unfailing in her insistence that being trans i ...more
Janet Mock's memoir of growing up trans is certainly compelling, extremely brave, and undoubtedly important -- and while I'm glad I read it, I found myself struggling throughout with how little I enjoyed doing so. There are moments when the story really comes alive -- for example, the vivid scenes of hanging out with her friend group of young trans women and Mock's fascinating exploration of the fluidity of gender in Hawaiian culture (I'd read a whole book just about this). But just as often, th ...more
Kate Olson
Jun 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book. I am incredibly grateful to @definitelyRA for choosing it as our June title for the @nonfictionwomen book club on Instagram because it had never crossed my radar until then. And now it will live on as one of the most important and compelling books that I have ever read.

I’m seriously unable and unqualified to write a review, so all I can say is that you should read it if you haven’t yet ❤️ 🌈
I have been mulling over Janet’s Mock soul-bearing, raw and honest memoir for the last couple days. She was very brave to write this a account, and I was also deeply affected by her polished, literary style, and her beautiful soothing voice, as I listened to her narrating her own book. I highly recommend the audio, as her voice and delivery adds greatly to her story.

And what a story it is. Mock was in her late twenties when she wrote her memoir of growing up black, trans and poor, and she had pl
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Janet Mock is a writer, TV host and advocate whose work has appeared in Marie Claire, The New Yorker, and Lenny. With a Masters in journalism from New York University, the Honolulu native worked as an editor at, produced HBO’s The Trans List, hosted a series of specials for MSNBC, and appeared on OWN’s Super Soul Sunday. Oprah Winfrey has called her a “fearless new voice” and “trailblaz ...more

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“I believe that telling our stories, first to ourselves and then to one another and the world, is a revolutionary act. It is an act that can be met with hostility, exclusion, and violence. It can also lead to love, understanding, transcendence, and community. I hope that my being real with you will help empower you to step into who you are and encourage you to share yourself with those around you.” 63 likes
“I’ve heard parents say all they want is “the best” for their children, but the best is subjective and anchored by how they know and learned the world.” 41 likes
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