Janet Mock’s bestselling memoir, Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More, is inspiring academic exploration of transgender issues and helping shape the evolution of women’s, gender and sexuality studies.
On Wednesday at Barnard College in New York, after Mock read passages from her book, she and a panel made up of scholars, activists and writers discussed trans women’s activism, community building and storytelling in social movements. The event was presented by the Barnard Center for Research on Women. Founded in 1971, BCRW connects scholarly inquiry with activism.
“Activists in academic settings give our work legs and arms,” said panelist Dr. Brittney Cooper, who is an assistant professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and Africana Studies at Rutgers University. “It’s a really important reminder that knowledge production doesn’t just happen in the academy. It happens in activist spaces, too.”
Cooper, co-founder of the Crunk Feminist Collective, said there are few stories about Black women’s lives and even less about trans Black women’s lives. When she was teaching at the University of Alabama, students asked for a class on Black girls’ studies, but there weren’t enough books to make a course. Cooper referred to Mock as “a gift to our intellectual and cultural traditions of how we think of Black womanhood.” <Read more.>