Within the past five years, the United States has been the epicenter for LGBT debates, discussions and progress. One of the core participants of this latest wave is Janet Mock.
“Telling our stories can be a revolutionary act,” Mock said during her appearance at Weber State University’s Shepherd Union Ballroom.
Mock, who identifies as a transgender woman, is the New York Times bestselling author of “Redefining Realness” and an advocate for transgender women’s rights.
Mock first stepped forward to tell her story in 2011 for the magazine Marie Claire.
“I felt the need to complicate the discussion in the LGBTQ community,” Mock said.
Born as a boy in Honolulu, Hawaii, Mock knew that she was different at an early age. Following a path that led to suffering brutal harassment, she became who she is today and brought many experiences with her.
“Our experiences are not open for debate,” Mock said followed by an applause.
Mock put a lot of attention on the violence and harassment that members of the LGBT community face. According to the Anti-Violence Project, there were 25 documented LGBT homicides during 2012—the fourth highest yearly total ever recorded. Of those, 73 percent were people of color.
Mock highlighted two individuals that had given her inspiration, Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson.
For the LGBT community, 1969 was a year of reform with the start of their revolution. A series of spontaneous riots and demonstrations by the LGBT community became known as the Stonewall Riots.
Rivera and Johnson became leading voices for LGBT rights in the early 1970s; their legacy and work paved the way for current LGBT movements and inspired Mock.
“We were not always fighting for the flagship right of marriage, but for basic rights,” Mock said in discussing Rivera and Johnson. Mock asked the question: Why is it unsafe for women to be trans?
Mock turned to the students and challenged them.
“I charge you to use your voice to ignite change,” said Mock. “Never underestimate your own voice.”
Although the LGBT community doesn’t suffer to the degree it did in the early 1970s, their struggle for equality is far from over. Mock understands there are many who disagree with their lifestyle.
“I don’t need you to agree with it,” said Mock about naysayers. “But how can we take care of each other despite our differences?”