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On the surface, Janet Mock is a pretty, vivacious 28-year-old who seems like she’s got a good head on her shoulders. Born and raised in Honolulu, Janet went on to receive a full-ride scholarship to the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She continued her education, going on to receive a Master’s Degree from New York University, and accepted a job as the Associate Editor for She currently is living her dream, residing in New York with her boyfriend whom she claims she’s completely in love with.

Her story sounds very normal, not unlike thousands of others. The only difference is, Janet was born male. She lived as Charles for the first 18 years of her life, until she took a trip to Bangkok where she risked her life and put her future in the hands of a Thai surgeon who completed her gender reassignment surgery.

Janet recently opened up to Marie Claire about her transition and the obstacles she faced as both a child and adult. She’s also written about her first experiences with make-up, how her first best friend was the female version of herself, what it was like to go through two puberties and how she hopes sharing her story will help others that are struggling with gender identity.

She writes on her website:

“As puberty began to hit in middle school, my body began to change, betraying Janet. It was difficult living in a body that did not reflect me at my best self, and it became the central drama of my first 18 years.

During the eighth grade, I began incorporating cosmetics (Lipsmackers, Wet N Wild eyeliner, CoverGirl compacts) into my beauty regimen. I was teased, taunted and targeted for this gender variance, but my accomplishments and involvement in school soon overshadowed my non-conformity. By freshman year, I was dressing as my female self and was soon known as Janet through the halls of my high school in Kalihi, a tough part of Honolulu..

But writing about famous people only allowed me to express a minutiae of my talents. My wakeup call to a higher purpose came in the fall of 2010. It was apparent that being different (whether you were gay or transgender, overweight or rail-thin, dark or albino) was a matter of life or death. I knew that writing my memoir Fish Food in silence was no longer an option. I had to speak up.”

She reflected on her interview with Marie Claire, saying:

“After a lot of hard work, planning and sacrifice, 18-year-old Janet traveled across the world, where at the hands of a Thai surgeon, I united my body to my soul, and finally became the physical embodiment of the woman of my dreams.

The majority of transwomen and transmen have to endure two puberties: their biological one and the corrective one they know is absolutely necessary in order to go on. I did not go through this. Gratefully, with the support of my family, I was able to experience my transition as my peers in school were also going through their physiological changes in puberty.

But I do wish I could change one thing in the piece: the term “boy” which is used a few times. Overall I’m fine with it because technically I was a “boy,” but two instances still don’t feel right. The first instance proclaims, “Until she was 18, Janet was a boy,” and then it goes on to say, “I even found other boys like me there…” Though I did not write the article, it is written in my voice from a four-hour interview and follow-up correspondences. But the surgery did not make me a girl. The surgery just got rid of my male parts. I was always a girl.

Being female was my one and only conviction.”

Janet’s memoir, Fish Food, hit shelves soon.

Take a look at Janet’s “It gets better” video:


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