Feb 04

“Redefining Realness”: Trans Writer Janet Mock’s Memoir

Out today is Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More by Janet Mock. Mock was established as a writer in New York City before she publicly disclosed her transgender identity in 2011. At that time the story of Mock’s transition and coming out was published in Marie Claire.

Now, her new book delves into much more about her life. The publisher of Redefining Realness states:

This powerful memoir follows Mock’s quest for identity, from an early, unwavering conviction about her gender to a turbulent adolescence in Honolulu that saw her transitioning during the tender years of high school, self-medicating with hormones at fifteen, and flying across the world alone for sex reassignment surgery at just eighteen. With unflinching honesty, Mock uses her own experience to impart vital insight about the unique challenges and vulnerabilities of trans youth and brave girls like herself.

In an interview last month with Autostraddle, Mock was asked what advice she’d give “to someone who is trying to live true to themselves or who is struggling with who they are”:

I think number one is tap into yourself and take your time… …(W)hat I would say to someone is don’t look to these big role models that now you hold up on a pedestal. Look to those who are right in process with you. Because you see that they’re taking their time, that it takes a long time to find yourself. So take your time finding yourself, take your time finding and honing your voice, if you’re a writer or storyteller or an artist, whatever that point of view is, and to really tap into yourself. And when I say tap into yourself, I mean like really find out who you are. Like beyond the labels that people may have embraced for themselves and find the labels that are you, you know?

Selected Reviews of Redefining Realness

Jennifer Finney Boylan, author of She’s Not There and Stuck in the Middle With You: “Janet Mock’s groundbreaking book is testimony to the remarkable progress trans people have achieved over the last decade– and shines a bright light on the work that still needs to be done. Mock’s clear, lucid prose will open hearts and minds, and further the goals of equality and justice–not just for trans people, but for everyone. Redefining Realness is loving, searing, and true.”

Susan Stryker, author of Transgender History: “Redefining Realness overflows with the everyday magic of survival and resiliency in low income communities of color, of loving kindness bursting through the cracks of a hard reality, and of the life-sustaining bonds of family, friendships, and a powerful trans sisterhood.”

Kirkus Reviews: “From learning her father was addicted to crack to the childhood sexual abuse she sustained to the street sex she performed to gain enough money for her sex-change operation, Mock allows readers into the deepest and darkest moments of her life…It is an eye-opening and unapologetic story that is much greater than mere disclosure; it is a necessary assessment that a transgender person is as normal as any other person who claims the title of normalcy and that gender and body shape do not form a person’s identity.”

You can watch her book trailer below:

Jul 29

“Laurence Anyways”: Film About Male-to-Female Transition

Laurence Anyways, the new Canadian film written and directed by Xavier Dolan, as described on Rotten Tomatoes“Laurence, a French teacher and soon-to-be-published author, enjoys an intense and mutually loving relationship with his fiancée, Frédérique. But on the day after his 35th birthday, Laurence confesses to Fred that he longs to become a woman, asking her to support his transformation.” The leads are played by Melvil Poupaud (Laurence) and Suzanne Clément (Fred).

Time period?The 1980’s to 90’s. “Our generation can take this; we’re ready for it,” Laurence’s fiancée remarks to her sister, who doesn’t seem so sure.

The Laurence Anyways trailer for U.S. audiences:

Is the three-hour length a problem? Yes, for many—and it comes up a lot in the reviews. But the declaration of Noah Tsika, The Huffington Post, is that sometimes longer is good, or at least okay: “The film’s running time is entirely necessary. You don’t feel it…”

It’s About Love

Dolan tells Tyler Coates in an interview for Flavorwire, “I’ve never thought of it as a story about a trans person. The story does not revolve around LGBT issues or the hardships of sexual transition — it’s always been a love story from the very beginning.”

Tomas Hachard, NPR: “This film is as much a portrait of a loving if dysfunctional couple as it is an examination of identity.”

Laurence’s Admission Regarding Gender Identity

When Laurence announces, early in the movie, her need to transition, Fred says to her (according to Olivia Collette at rogerebert.com): “Everything I love about you is what you hate about yourself.” Laurence asks, “That’s everything you love about me?”

Laurence’s fiancée makes it clear, though, that she does want to make things work. “If you want to take the next step, I’m your man,” Frédérique tells Laurence.

Other Responses as Laurence Transitions

David Lewis, San Francisco Chronicle: “Laurence’s compelling interactions with his icy mother (Nathalie Baye, wonderful) pack a wallop without resorting to theatrics. Laurence’s first day in class dressed as a woman is an unforgettable exercise in silence.”

Noah Tsika, The Huffington Post, elaborates on Frédérique’s family dynamics:

Throughout the film, Fred must contend with two terrifyingly contemptuous familial forces: her imperious mother, Andrée (Sophia Faucher), and her more disturbingly dismissive sister, Stéfie (played by Dolan stalwart Monia Chokri), whose self-consciously ‘hip,’ semi-punk style is little more than a half-assed affectation, as she demonstrates when expressing disgust over LGBT concerns. Stéfie may support abortion rights, drug abuse, and casual sex, and in so doing seem ‘progressive,’ but she appears to accept the historically specific, pseudoscientific party line on transgenderism: that it’s a ‘mental illness.’

Stephen Dalton, Hollywood Reporter: “…a sumptuously orchestrated love story about a transsexual man’s decade-long struggle to maintain a passionate romance with his female soulmate in the face of creeping hostility from friends, family and society”.

To Sum It All Up

Olivia Colletterogerebert.com: “The film’s biggest strength is dealing with a taboo as if it wasn’t…Despite her ability for great tenderness, Laurence can also be selfish and rude. She’s not an angelic transgender heroine; she’s just exceedingly normal.”

Joe PeelerPaste: ”…(I)f the movie were to grow legs and walk down the street, the reaction would be much the same as that of so many bystanders to Laurence himself, over six feet tall, heels, wig, manly face, flashy dress. Some will gawk, some will avert their eyes, but others still will be unexpectedly smitten.”