Janet Mock Gets Emotional Talking About The Childhood Friend Who Gave Her Courage To Live Authentically

From a young age, Janet Mock always had a sense of who she was meant to be. Though the writer and host of MSNBC's web show "So Popular!" was assigned male at birth, she knew that she was truly female. Mock now fully and proudly embraces her identity as a trans woman, but during her childhood in Hawaii, she struggled to find the courage to live in her truth. Until, that is, she met Wendi, a girl just like her.

Mock was 12 at the time. Wendi was a year older and had the courage Mock admired, as she tells Oprah in the above video from her "Super Soul Sunday" interview.

"There's no way to miss Wendi," she says. "She would wear these super-short shorts with socks pulled all the way up. She'd prance around school, so I always saw her and I was afraid of her -- because I knew that she was reflecting me, and I didn't want to see myself yet."

Wendi, however, saw Mock.

"She did call me out, and that was my first interaction with her... 'Are you māhū?' That's what she asked me. 'Māhū' is a term within Hawaiian culture kind of loosely translated to 'transgender,'" Mock explains. "I clenched up. I was like, 'Wait, someone is seeing me. Someone is calling me out for who I am.'"

Mock wasn't ready to face it at the time, but after a few months passed, she and Wendi began to interact and become friends.

"She asked me kindly the next time... 'Do you want to play volleyball after school?'" Mock recalls. "That was the start of our friendship."

Soon, the two were best friends, with Wendi providing Mock with the support, encouragement and acceptance that she needed to begin living her life. "Wendi was the first person to tweeze my eyebrows, which was my first act of intimacy as a young person, having someone to finally take care of me. I was like, 'Wow, this is what friendship is,'" Mock says.

Even now, Mock gets emotional thinking about the profound difference Wendi made on her life.

"At 12 years old, I was given the gift of having a best friend who saw me," she says, tearing up. "That was pivotal in my life. At a time where everyone else was rebutting me, she saw me."

"Super Soul Sunday" airs Sundays at 11 a.m. ET on OWN.



Janet Mock