Essay Example on Janet Mock's Surpassing Uncertainty

Published: 2022-12-26
Essay Example on Janet Mock's Surpassing Uncertainty
Type of paper:  Book review
Categories:  Discrimination American literature Gender in literature
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1819 words
16 min read

Surpassing certainty by Janet Mock introduces us to a nineteen years old girl, into her college career at the University of Hawaii. The girl is looking for her place and purpose in life, with no one to guide her. She meets her first lover in a club, forming a relationship that later becomes the basis for all her early twenties' problems; the problems of falling in and out of love and trying to figure out who she was. Her dreams lead her to a platform where she can address the world, the media. She gets into the world of publishing with a purpose, the unique purpose of being a trans woman and a person of color. She became an iconic voice in media calling for equality and justice. She was a voice to the voiceless, who went through violent conditions without speaking out for fear (Mock, 2017).

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Surpassing certainty changes the reader's point of view for others, which is critical for everyone searching for own certainty. Janet wants to be the model of trans women in the whole world. She wants to provide a kind of a blueprint for the trans women coming behind her. Through her rough experience in campus and coming out strong from a sexual assault experience, she is able to identify a group where she belongs in society. The writer urges the readers to escape all forms of privileges and the importance of honesty which is the only thing that can set you free. She says that her life was experiencing a big gap before she went public on her being a trans (Mock, 2017). This informs the importance of speaking one's truth and showing up to the fullest. The importance of coming out is that people learn to understand other peoples perspectives, without judging them. The issue of women engaging in sex work in secret as they face stigma can be solved. People who end up in the industry may have been caused by a lack of alternative sources of income (Mock, 2017).

In the documentary Free CeCe, the roles of race, class, and gender are explored through the life of CeCe. With iconic people supporting the battle, transgender has become part of the public consciousness. This is seen with the rise of the activists such as CeCe McDonald, who is a transgender woman who defends herself against an attack but ended up in a men's prison. She was later charged with murder, which sparked anger amongst the activists worldwide (Tugg, 2017). The trial was not just and therefore the movements called for a free and fair judgment, without discriminating the transgender women of color, which was witnessed before. The documentary doesn't just cover CeCe's but also explores the violence that the culture poses for the transgendered humans and more specifically the trans women of color.

Many trans women in the past have gone through discrimination and death finally especially those of the minority races. The documentary "Free CeCe" informs more of the objectives of the civil rights movements (Tugg, 2017). Other than just representing the rights, the movements also fight against the violence the trans women of color are going through followed by murder. Incidences have been occurring and this is incidence enough to indicate how serious the violence is. It is shocking to see how little the police and the judicial are doing to stop the violence. The remarkable part of Cece's story is how people were fighting for her release from prison. Trans people suffer discrimination and stigmatization in a generalized way in the areas of the health sector, education, employment, and housing, as well as access to the bathrooms. As a result of the violence, stigmatization, discrimination and the lack of access to health care, making the psychological and physical health of trans people worse than that of the cis-gender population in general (Tugg, 2017). The prejudice and lack of training of health professionals contribute to this problem.

Discrimination on the grounds of gender identity is illegal in accordance with the provisions of the international law of human rights.

The fact that CeCe was locked up in a male prison also indicates how the police and judicial systems misgender the trans people. Although she was confined in a solitary point, this raises too many questions on gender discrimination. She was under attack but she ended up in prison. Violence is a plague in the lives of many transgender people and not attached to gender stereotypes. The beatings and hate murders are very common, often perpetrated with greater cruelty. According to the National Coalition of Programs against violence, 44% of motivated murders for hate reported in 2010 were committed against transgender women. Terror in these acts causes the kind of fear that causes people to hide and stay away from community and support services. There is no option to call the police, as the same police frequently participate in the intimidation, instead of offering protection; often uses abusive language, humiliates trans persons, and is largely responsible for injuries caused during periods of custody and routine patrols. In recent years, the outbreak of killings has sparked international protests, with prominent people joining the fight against the brutality against trans people. In addition, protests against police brutality have begun to generate changes in some of the main cities of the country.

From Qwo-Li Driskill's, "Asagi Stories: Cherokee Queer and Two-Spirit Memory" gives a connection between the past and the future among the Cherokee Two-Spirit and queer groups. The two Cherokee people groups have been hidden through the colonial past to the present. Two-Spirit is a contemporary phrase used amongst the native communities to refer to people whose genders exist outside the colonial logic. It is a term for people who don't fall into any societal-accepted gender category. These groups include people who regard themselves as Gay, Lesbians, bisexual, Queer or Transgender. 'Asegi' a word that interprets to strange is a term that is used to refer to the Queer group of people (Driskill, 2016). Trusted sources have indicated that there are many families with Two-Spirit relatives, although the information is not recorded. Even important traditionalists have vocally spoken about the Two-Spirit issues. The perspective of the issue is mostly affected by the issue of colonialism (Driskill, 2016). Female who engaged in a war against the colonialists were viewed as living as men. However, from the traditions of the Cherokee people, the role of women in leadership was accepted. From the colonialists' point of view, the female embodied women would be viewed as "Two-Spirit" just because the participated in roles believed masculine. The perception of indigenous queer/two-spirit of the society has been different from one tribe to another in the past and the present, giving an image of the de-colonial futures.

The Two-Spirit people have a long history and were considered special in some communities who were given the responsibilities for carrying two spirits. They were vital within the societies of our ancestors. Two-Spirits were believed to have "double vision" which made them view the world from both men's and women's perspectives. People did not interfere with this group of people, as this was within the realm of the Creator's wisdom. The Europeans later came to those communities armed with religion and started interfering with the affairs of the two-spirited people. With the rise of Christianity and other religious groups, the two-spirited people started being viewed as a less human being (Driskill, 2016). They were seen as an inferior group and faced constant brutalities aimed at eradicating the two-spirited people. In the aboriginal communities, two-spirited people have been ostracized from their communities as people have adopted a negative attitude towards this group of people.

Although gender variance was accepted among several Native American tribes, two-spirits in the United States experience violence and ostracism. They face double oppression in modern times due to racism from homophobic society, both within their communities and among the native people. Not all tribes in Native America accepted the gender variance. This made some tribes to tolerate the trans-gender as opposed to embracing it. Even the tribe that appreciated Two-Spirits had a history of denigrating them as well. A factor that contributed to this state of affairs is believed to be the imposition of Christianity by colonizers, mostly from Europe (Driskill, 2016). A hegemonic Anglo-American culture also introduced homophobia within the already open-minded Native communities. Ironically, some Native Americans believe that the Two-Spirits was introduced by the White American culture. General antipathy within some tribes towards the Two-Spirits is vibrant to both the people with or without legacies of Transgender acceptance. This state makes the Two-Spirits to hide who they are while on the reservation. On the reservation, the Two-Spirits monitor each other to appear less effeminate in an effort to avoid violence. Activists in cultural and political movements represent the marginalized group to the dominant culture ignoring the diversities of people within the majority group. This approach strengthens the group identity giving them collective power while demanding and defending their rights.

Two-Spirits, on the other hand, are struggling to assert themselves as valuable members of their tribes-tribes that have forgotten how they once valued difference. Strategic essentialism has led to the further denial of Two Spirits, who due to a presumed mutual exclusivity between queerness and cisgender must often choose between their gender identity and their Native identity. Through the Asegi Stories, Qwo-Li Driskill argues that sexuality and erotic are important tools in the process of decolonization. The colonial gender system turns the Indigenous bodies and sexuality against own selves. People's behavior and bodies can be regulated can be combated through the revival of diversity. There is a need to re-imagine the Cherokee erotic history and gender diversity in a contemporary setting. All forms of colonial hetero-patriarchy should be dismantled, to stop the ongoing colonial violence against the minority groups.

There is a need to share the idea of expressing self-empowerment within femininity by understanding that feminine expression is as legitimate as the masculine expression. People need to change their perception of feminine expression as inferior, as this will end oppression. The society should embrace femme expression and stop discriminating the gender-nonconforming people who fall victim of trans-misogyny. Through the book "surpassing certainty", the people trans people and other queer groups are urged to come out publicly and identify themselves, so that they can still be in a position to receive services similar to their peers. The documentary free CeCe demonstrates the strength in numbers of the social movements fighting against the injustices subjected to the trans people. Similarly, through Asegi stories, the author urges the public the importance to embrace two-spirited people as a critical step in decolonization. There is a need to stop violence against minority groups.


Mock, J. (2017). Surpassing certainty: What my twenties taught me. Simon and Schuster.

Driskill, Q. L. (2016). Asegi stories: Cherokee queer and two-spirit memory. University of Arizona Press.

Tugg. (2017, Feb 24). Free CeCe! (Video file). Retrieved from: http://

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