Want to speak with author and activist Janet Mock? Join ESSENCE Books Editor Patrik Henry Bass for a live Twitter chat with Janet on Wednesday, February 5 at 7pm ET to discuss REDEFINING REALNESS: MY Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More (on-sale February 4, 2011). Follow us at @essencemag and use the hashtag #ESSENCEBooks and #RedefiningRealness to join in on the conversation.

ESSENCE exclusively featured an excerpt from REDEFINING REALNESS in our January 2014 issue:

When I look back at my childhood, I often say, I always knew I was a girl, since the age of 3 or 4, a time when I began cataloging memories. No one—not my mother, my grandmother, my father or my siblings—gave me any reason to believe I was anything other than my parents’ firstborn son, my father’s namesake. But it was my very first conviction, the first thing I grew certain of as a young person. When I say I always knew I was a girl with such certainty, I erase all the nuances, the work, the process of self-discovery. I’ve adapted to saying I always knew I was a girl as a defense against the louder world, which has told me—ever since I left Mom’s body in that pink hospital atop a hill in Honolulu—that my girlhood was imaginary, something made up that needed to be fixed. I wielded this ever-knowing, all-encompassing certainty to protect my identity. I’ve since sacrificed it in an effort to stand firmly in the murkiness of my shifting self-truths. I grew to be certain about who I was, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a time when I was learning the world, unsure, unstable, wobbly, living somewhere between confusion, discovery and conviction. The fact that I admit to being uncertain doesn’t discount my womanhood. It adds value to it.

Looking forward to a great conversation on Wednesday, February 5 at 7pm ET!