Journalist and TV television host Mock’s second memoir (Redefining Realness, 2014) addresses issues of identity, insecurity, and self-discovery.
The book begins unconventionally at the door to a strip club in Hawaii where the author, a trans woman of color, recalls using a fake ID to get a stripper job to work her way through college. Much of how Mock conducts her life now was borne from mistakes made and lessons learned in her formative 20s, the time frame that the memoir primarily focuses on. The daughter of a native Hawaiian mother and a black father from Texas, she admits to being raised in an unorthodox family. After her parents divorced, her mother raised her with a “laissez-faire approach to parenting that enabled me to do whatever I wanted throughout my youth,” which included hormone therapy and, eventually, sex-reassignment surgery at age 18. At the strip club, she writes of being wholly “stealth” (seamlessly blending in as a trans woman), as were other girls there and on the streets where Mock hustled. As trying as those days seemed to her, they were also educational and afforded her time to become comfortable with and intimately acknowledge and appreciate her physicality and sexuality. Troy, a man she’d met at the club, would become the first love interest to whom she would disclose her trans status. Brimming with liberated self-discovery, Mock’s conversational memoir is smoothly written with plenty of insight and personal perspective, some of which is bittersweet, as when reflecting on her turbulent relationship with Troy: “Being alone is unbearable when you’ve enjoyed a reprieve with togetherness.” Though a traumatic sexual assault derailed her physical sense of security, journalism courses and a career redirection in New York City paved the way toward the celebrated media personality she has become today.
A defining chronicle of strength and spirit particularly remarkable for younger readers, both in transition or questioning.