Janet Mock has always been transparent when it comes to sharing her story as a transgender woman. And in a new interview with Oprah Winfrey for “Super Soul Sunday,” Mock explains how a fellow transgender friend from her childhood changed her life for the better.
While chatting with Winfrey about her youth, Mock explained that she felt invisible and misunderstood by the people around her until she met her friend, Wendi, a 12-year-old girl who was a year older than her and had already begun embracing her identity.
“There’s no way to miss Wendi,” she says. “She would wear these super-short shorts with socks pulled all the way up. She’d prance around school, so I always saw her and I was afraid of her — because I knew that she was reflecting me, and I didn’t want to see myself yet.”
Mock added, “She did call me out, and that was my first interaction with her … ‘Are you māhū?’ That’s what she asked me. ‘Māhū’ is a term within Hawaiian culture kind of loosely translated to ‘transgender,’ I clenched up. I was like, ‘Wait, someone is seeing me. Someone is calling me out for who I am.’ ”
Mock explained that it took a long time before she began to open up to Wendi, who helped her open up herself to the world.
“She asked me kindly the next time … ‘Do you want to play volleyball after school?'” Mock recalls. “That was the start of our friendship.”
Mock became emotional as she recalled the impact of her friendship with Wendi, which she explained was a gift to have at such a critical time in her life
“Wendi was the first person to tweeze my eyebrows, which was my first act of intimacy as a young person, having someone to finally take care of me. I was like, ‘Wow, this is what friendship is,’ ” Mock said.
“At 12 years old, I was given the gift of having a best friend who saw me,” she says, tearing up. “That was pivotal in my life. At a time where everyone else was rebutting me, she saw me.”
We’re glad that Mock had someone in her corner to affirm her identity and show her what unconditional love is, especially in a world where spaces of freedom and acceptance can be so rare for transgender youth.