Janet Mock Comes to Mason for Fall for the Book


By James Stemple, Staff Writer

Fall for the Book is an annual event hosted at Mason by a non-profit organization of the same name in hopes of educating the many students on campus. Its many events are mostly (if not all) free to the public.

The topics range from documentaries about Oscar Zeta Acosta, stories of Ernest Hemingway’s secret life as a spy, and poetry readings straight from the authors. There are even some workshops for those who wish to attend.

The festival’s mission statement is to connect readers and authors on a deeper, personal level beyond just reading written works. These presentations also hope to develop a sense of cultural growth through reading.

One such event that highlights cultural growth was author and activist Janet Mock’s discussion in Harris Theater on Oct. 11. The theater was packed to the brim with people who cheered when the lights dimmed as Mock and associate professor Wendi Manuel-Scott walked on stage.

Janet Mock, a Honolulu native, began her male to female transition early in her life. Taking her first name from Janet Jackson, she’s achieved recognition as a transgender activist and has been a New York Times bestseller as well as holding editor’s positions in People magazine and Marie Claire International magazine.

The conversation on stage was very relaxed and conversational—it was almost like it was simply two friends having a normal conversation in front of a live audience. The lights were centered on Mock and Manuel-Scott as they opened up with casual conversation about hypothetical dinner parties and Beyoncé. The crowd cheered at Mock’s responses.

It wasn’t all casual, however—Mock would go off on tangents about trans and African American rights that were met with claps of admiration and approval before she’d stop and ask, “wait, what was the question again? Did I even answer it?”

Mock was passionate in her answers and stated her genuine care for “her sisters” as black trans women aren’t “expected to live past 35.” Mock hopes to combat stigma through her storytelling. This was the subject of her latest book, “Surpassing Certainty: What My Twenties Taught Me,” a memoir of moments in her life and her journey of becoming an adult during her twenties.

Mock shared some stories featured in the book with charisma, and even told some stories — like one night when someone touched her hair without her permission — that weren’t featured in her book, to which she exclaimed “Damn! I should’ve put that in; it’s a good story.”

Mock’s discussion was only one of many events organized for Fall for the Book. Don’t worry if you missed this year, there will always be next year with many more amazing authors and free events where anyone can connect with.

Photos Courtesy of Morgan McCarthy