How Janet Mock Began Living Authentically at Age 15

Season 6 Episode 613
Aired on 05/03/2015 | CC tv-14
Long before Janet Mock became a talk show host, best-selling author and outspoken advocate for transgender rights, she was born Charles, her parents' first son. Her father, Charles Mock III, served in the Navy, and her mother, Elizabeth, was born and raised in Hawaii. After meeting in Honolulu and marrying in 1982, they welcomed Charles into the world in 1983.

From a young age, Charles was different from other boys. He liked to play with jewelry, wear his hair long and sometimes wear dresses. While living in Hawaii, 12-year-old Charles met Wendi, another trans girl who would become a lifelong friend. Charles began to embrace the girlhood he'd always wanted, and by age 15, Charles insisted that everyone call her Janet, a name she picked in admiration for Janet Jackson.

By sophomore year in high school, Janet was living as her authentic self full time. While not everyone accepted it, Janet says a lot of people tolerated it. "I marvel at it now. At that time, it seemed like the only possibility, the only pathway," she says. "I grew up as a black child in communities that are already suffering, and so the only resource I had was my truth, was myself. That was the one thing I could control in the world is to present and be who I knew I was."

Watch as Janet shares more about how living authentically was her first step toward success.

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