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Friday, June 14, 2024

About 100 people gathered Friday night to listen to a woman talk about being transgender, while also channeling Beyoncé with her confidence.

“I woke up with an essence of fabulousness,” Janet Mock, a transgender activist, feminist and writer, said to the crowd at Pugh Hall.

Students laughed, clapped and snapped their fingers as Mock answered questions about her newly released book, “Redefining Realness,” and her struggle for representation.

“I don’t live my life based on other people’s perceptions of me,” she said.

During the event for UF’s transgender week, sponsored in part by LGBT Affairs, Pride Student Union and Black Student Union, Mock spoke about how she doesn’t feel included in any minority group because she has such a unique identity.

Without her upbringing in Hawaii, an inclusive, diverse place, and her role models like Beyoncé and Destiny’s Child, she said she would have never become the person she is today.

“They were one of the little mini-mirrors in the kaleidoscope wall of what I wanted to look like,” she said. “ I grew up in a space where I learned that there are things beyond male and female, beyond black and white, beyond masculine and feminine.”

She said she believed instead of there being a third gender like “other,” there should be a blank space where people can fill in their genders, but most people are not ready for that.

“I would love a blank space where people can just fill their gender in, like unicorn,” she said.

Charles Ely, who graduated from UF last year, said attending the talk was worthwhile.

“The biggest thing that I like is that UF is actually putting on events where we can meet these trans women, like, we get to meet real activists,” the 23-year-old said.

Mock also discussed the problems with the media’s portrayal of transgender people and their focus on their “before and after” appearances.

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Collin Verney, president of Pride Student Union, said he thought it was great to end transgender week with Mock.

“I think it really displayed a lot of communities coming together to rally around this identity of trans women of color,” the 21-year-old psychology and sociology senior said.

[A version of this story ran on page 8 on 11/17/2014]

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