“I understand the burden of being the first,” says writer-director Janet Mock, who’s led the way to a lot of mile-markers. She was the first to publish a memoir about the experiences of transitioning as a young person (the NY Times bestseller, Redefining Realness). She was the first trans woman of color to write and direct for television with the FX series Pose, which features the largest trans cast ever. And her landmark deal with Netflix makes her the first trans creator signed to develop content for a major media outlet.
“I don’t think I ever imagined a person like me having this kind of influence,” Mock says. She grew up poor and black in suffering Hawaiian communities, watched over by a father whose constant demands for masculinity only exacerbated her internal struggles. “I didn’t have much agency,” she says, “but I did have one resource: my truth.”
Mock’s message of inclusion and intersectionality has made an enormous impact both within and beyond the trans community. In 2017, she addressed millions at the Women’s March on Washington. In 2018, she was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People. She is a highly prized speaker and multi-media mogul, and she’s brought unprecedented visibility and representation to a historically marginalized community. “I’m like the Trojan horse,” she says. “I’m bringing others into spaces I’m invited into, transforming those spaces for the better.”