Marie Claire readers are about to see a new name in the magazine’s masthead, one they might already be familiar with. Janet Mock, an author and former editor at People.com, was first in the pages of Marie Claire in 2011, when Marie Claire published the story of her journey as a transgender woman.
Mock will join the magazine as a contributing editor, Marie Claire announced this week. Her first piece, a personal account of the women and girls she’s met while traveling the country on a tour for her book “Redefining Realness,” is scheduled to appear in the print version of the magazine in the fall.“I’ll also give my perspective on beauty, and pop culture, and politics, and not just be thrown into a corner as the trans correspondent,” Mock said in a phone interview. Editor-in-Chief Anne Fulenwider said that Mock will be writing about her own experiences but won’t be limited to them. She was drawn to Mock, she said, because she’s a “phenomenal writer, speaker and thinker.”
“I’m certainly not discounting her transgender identity; I think that’s really important and that’s what makes it so topical right now and what’s given it a lot of attention,” Fulenwider said, “but at the center of this is the story of a woman finding herself, and those are the stories that really resonate with young women.”
Mock writes in “Redefining Realness” that her success has resulted in what she calls “survivor guilt.” Since the publication of the essay in Marie Claire in 2011, Mock has become a national figure in the transgender movement. She knows that not all transgender women, and especially not all transgender women of color, have the kind of access she has to employment, health care and personal safety. She told Poynter that she hopes having been open and vulnerable in the book and in her other work will show other women that their stories matter and empower women to share those stories.
Fulenwider said she hopes that the magazine can be a place women see themselves, no matter who they are.
“People who have been kept in the shadows, or feel that they’ve been kept in the shadows, or who feel that they don’t have a public forum, or feel that they’ve had to hide, I hope will feel a bit more validated or just a part of the larger cultural conversation,” Fulenwider said. “You shouldn’t feel ashamed of who you are.”
Marie Claire’s audience has responded positively to previous stories about transgender people, Fulenwider said, including the original piece about Mock’s life, and another story about a woman who falls in love with a transgender man, which was published this spring. “We got a really compassionate and passionate response to that story online and on social media,” she said, and though Mock’s story is a different one, she’s confident that the magazine’s readers will respond well to Mock’s perspective. “I wouldn’t have done this if I didn’t think Janet’s words in general would resonate with our readers,” Fulenwider said.
Mock takes seriously the role of writing for a women’s magazine as a contributing editor as a transgender woman, and sees her new role as significant for transgender people and girls especially. Transgender women are often expected to prove that they are women, and when they don’t fit certain standards, they are excluded from certain spaces, Mock said.
“So to have a magazine say ‘No, we know that girls and women come from various walks of life, and you’re just on one path, but that doesn’t negate from the experience of what a woman is or who a woman is,’” she said, “I find that to be revolutionary.”