Writer and trans activist Janet Mock went on New York-based syndicated radio program and self-proclaimed “world’s most dangerous morning show” The Breakfast Club last week, supposedly to talk about her new memoir Surpassing Certainty. Instead, Mock sat through a conversation about the state of her genitals, but Mock says she did it because “my ultimate goal was to be accessible—to not judge, to call in rather than call out, and, above all, to exercise patience as the (straight cis male) hosts processed my existence,” something she rarely does anymore, but was willing to do to reach the show’s largely black and Latinx audience.
That’s from a piece Mock wrote for Allure that was published yesterday—not in direct response to her interview on the show, for which she gives credit to co-host Angela Yee for “her preparation and effort to steer the conversation away from the particulars of my body and instead toward my work.” The essay was prompted by a later Breakfast Club interview with comedian Lil Duvall, in which Mock’s book was used as a prop as part of a comedic bit about the murder of trans women. Here’s how she explains what happened:
In the clip (an extended version can be seen here on TMZ), DJ Envy poses a hypothetical question to his guest about dating and sleeping with a woman who discloses that she’s trans after four months of courtship.
“This might sound messed up and I don’t care,” Duval says. “She dying. I can’t deal with that.”
“That’s a hate crime,” Charlamagne says. “You can’t do that.”
“You manipulated me to believe in this thing,” Duval says, before continuing, “If one did that to me, and they didn’t tell me, I’mma be so mad I’d probably going to want to kill them.”
Then DJ Envy holds up my book Surpassing Certainty. The cover image is a closeup portrait of my face. Envy says, “This is Janet Mock right here.”
“All right. Put that damn book down,” Duval demands.
“Tell me she ain’t pretty,” Charlamagne pushes. “Come on now.”
“She’s beautiful,” Yee echoes.
“Nope. That nigga doing his thing….ain’t finna get me.”
In her essay, Mock points out the irony “of a black program that often advocates for the safety and lives of black people [whose] hosts laughed as their guest advocated for the murder of black trans women” before saying that she’s not personally troubled by the insults, because she’s heard them all before. But, as she points out, “there are deeper consequences to this casual ignorance,” reflected in the troublingly high rates of violence towards trans women, and particularly trans women of color.
She calls upon everyone, particularly cis people, to speak up and have real, honest conversations about identity and sexuality, because “until cis people—especially heteronormative men—are able to interrogate their own toxic masculinity and realize their own gender performance is literally killing trans women, cis men will continue to persecute trans women and blame them for their own deaths.”