Being a Transgender Child in the 1980’s – Janet Mock’s Experience
Janet Mock grew up in Hawaii and California during the 1980’s as a part black, part Hawaiian transgender women. From an early age she knew that she was different but couldn’t quite understand how. Growing up, she was teased by classmates, and even her father, for being different and acting like a girl. After telling her classmates and teachers to call her Janet, “I can still feel the sting of my chemistry teacher purposefully calling out “Charles” every morning during roll call, to the giggles of my peers. To add insult to injury, she repeatedly mis gendered me, deliberately referring to me as “he” and “him” and reusing to reprimand bullies who interrupted class by shouting, “I can see your balls!” or “How big are your tits now?” Instead of taking a leadership role and proclaiming that intolerance wouldn’t be tolerated, she chose to turn a blind eye to insults, going as far as blaming me for putting a target on my own back for dressing the way I did. She viewed my femininity as extra, as something that was forced and unnatural” (Mock 147). Teachers set the tone in a classroom, and by purposely ignoring the students teasing and mis gendering her, the teacher set a tone of disrespect and non-acceptance.
During the 1980’s, transgender issues were not discussed as often as they are now, and there were no gender neutral bathrooms or dress codes. This meant that choosing which bathroom to use was up to the child, but the school was allowed to punish them for using the ‘wrong’ restroom. This could be very traumatizing to a young child who is trying to figure out who they are. Dress codes were also very strict, and Janet Mock would repeatedly get in trouble for wearing clothes that were ‘inappropriate’ for a boy. These strict rules are harmful to transgender students because it impresses upon them the idea that they are ‘wrong’.
“Redefining Realness – A Trans Girl’s Memoir.” Janet Mock, janetmock.com/redefiningrealness/.