Following the monster success of her first memoir Redefining Realness, which hit the New York Times Bestselling list; Janet Mock is set to release her new book What My Twenties Taught Me Surpassing Certainty on June 13.
During the 3 years in between releasing these two books, she has spoken at the women’s March on Washington in January 2017, produced and conducted the HBO documentary film: The Trans List and founded #girlslikeus, a social media project that empowers trans women.
To celebrate this milestone, an event was held in her honor at the Public Arts Performance Space, hosted by Lena Dunham, Slobodan Randjelovic and Jon Stryker. With guests such as Uzo Aduba, Chuck Amos, Laverne Cox, Mark Seliger and Francesca Ramsay present; a diverse crowd quickly filled up the event space as Janet arrived at the event wearing a beautiful sequined strap dress by Christian Siriano.
The Knocturnal was able to have an exclusive sit down with Janet as her book premiers.
How have you approached writing this book in comparison to the last one?
Janet: Well, this new one has always been the book I wanted to write. This one wasn’t necessarily about medical or social transition. It was about a young women embodied, living her life and trying to figure out what does it mean beyond the transition, beyond the body. What does it mean to exist in this world and so I felt really freed writing this book. The difference between surpassing certainty and Redefining Realness is our culture has shifted and changed. When I was writing Redefining Realness, people needed language, definition, and explanatory comments. Surpassing Certainty I build upon that work but I don’t give all those explanations anymore.
What do hope people will get out of this book after reading it?
Janet: I hope that they are able to think differently. I hope that this challenges their preconceived notions about how they look at people. I also hope another takeaway readers are able to get is to think about how we can show up and bring our full selves to the spaces that we occupy whether that is work, home, in the public. Also, how can we create spaces so other people feel safe to be themselves.
There has been a lot of visibility and education about what being trans is but the number of murders towards trans people has also risen these past years? What is your take on that?
Janet: I think that the one thing about visibility that is so great is that it enables more people to see us and know us. At the same time, with hyper visibility, folks see us and they target us and we become bigger, easier targets. So the next layer to deal with is how do we ensure that we are using this visibility to actually shift and change how people really think and live. How we legislate, create divisions against marginalized folks. For trans women or folk who are largely the victims of anti-trans violence, we have to also realize that this is a feminist issue, a racial issue, women’s issue as much as an LGBT issue. So we need to have a larger coalition of people showing up for their siblings in all spaces.
What are some books that are on your nightstand?
Janet: There’s a book called Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang. She’s one of my favorite writers. There’s one called Too Much and Not Enough by Durga Chew-Bose. I’m also reading this amazing book called There Are More Beautiful things Than Beyonce by Morgan Parker. It’s a beautiful collection. I read so much haha!
Co-host Lena Dunham told The Knockturnal, “Janet has blown my mind since the minute I met her. I fully stalked her to become my friend after reading Redefining Realness. I knew that I needed to have a relationship with her. So I know that Surpassing Certainty, which I just started reading, is going to be as transformational for as many women across the globe as her first book was. I feel so lucky to be here with someone I consider a sister.”
Francesca Ramsay added, “I just got my copy and I’m really excited to read it. It is waiting for me at my nightstand and I am so thrilled to support Janet; an icon who is so talented and pushes us to talk about our own privilege.”