Transgender rights advocate Janet Mock, right, answers a question from moderator professor Shelley Haley in the Chapel.

Transgender rights advocate, TV host and author Janet Mock shed light on the importance of transgender inclusivity through a moderated discussion on April 11. Hosted by the Rainbow Alliance with moderator Professor Shelley Haley, the discussion focused on Mock’s experiences as a transgender woman and her thoughts on transgender representation in society.

Mock grew up in Hawaii with a fairly supportive community who helped accept her own identity as a trans women. Even so, Mock knew early on that her identity as not only trans, but also as a lower-class individual and person of color, was not frequently seen in the media.

“For me, as this poor-raised, trans, girl of color, I knew that I had very little access to be able to tell my story, and when I did tell my stories I was very conscious of the fact that I would bring whole communities of people with me,” Mock said. “I also knew that overwhelmingly, black communities and communities that I come from often did not see themselves on the bookshelves in terms of trans stories or in terms of transgender transition narratives.”

With her New York Times best-selling memoir Redefining Realness, however, Mock has made great strides in sharing her experiences as a trans women to an inspired audience. She has become a media powerhouse with projects such as #GirlsLikeUs (a social media campaign that empowers trans women) and Beyond my Body (a MSNBC original series on trans identity).

When asked her thoughts on the reason for the rising number of cases relating to violence against trans women, Mock attributed current societal attitudes as for why intolerance toward the transgender community still occurs.

“We exist in a culture that is patriarchal and doesn’t want women to necessarily exist. We exist in a culture where we have to chant that black lives matter. We exist in a culture where trans people are constantly delegitimized, told to prove their realness, to prove their authenticity, to prove that they belong in public spaces like the restroom,” Mock asserted.

Through her acknowledgement of society’s ongoing issues, she advised that individuals take the initiative to understand those around them, whether they are a part of transgender communities or not.

“There should be this recognition that we’re all grappling with these norms, restrictions and constraints from our bodies because of gender,” Mock said. “So seeing a trans-person’s journey as a part of your own in some way and seeing how deeply linked our liberations are to one another, though we may not see or view the same kind of people, is understanding.”

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