Laura Jane Grace is an extraordinary artist whose masterpiece is the unfolding story of her life, a compassionate champion of the marginalized and outcast and an epic human being who has defied nature itself. It is hard to summarize this magnificent, iconoclastic woman. She is a searing punk rocker, founder and lead singer of Against Me!, the incendiary quartet that has recorded seminal albums like New Wave and White Crosses. As a troubled teenager she was influenced by protest and punk music, specially the British band Crass, and throughout her career fought against social injustice, environmental abuse, war and authoritarianism. But Laura Jane Grace has also dealt with a very personal struggle, that of gender dysphoria, a condition described as: “feeling one's emotional and psychological identity as male or female to be opposite to one's biological sex.”
Her inner torment and conflict might have been evident to anyone who paid attention to the words of The Ocean, a song off the brilliant major label debut album from Against Me! in 2007, “If I could have chosen, I would have been born a woman/My mother once told me she would have named me Laura/I would grow up to be strong and beautiful like her/One day I'd find an honest man to make my husband.” She eventually overcame her demons and came out publicly as a transgender woman and changed her name in 2012. In her own words, “The cliché is that you're a woman trapped in a man's body, but it's not that simple. It's a feeling of detachment from your body and from yourself. And it's shitty, man. It's really fucking shitty.”
In a world anxious to label and slander, shove you into little boxes and deny you the most fundamental rights, where the slightest deviation from the norm can render you untouchable, specially if you are a public persona beholden to corporations and adored by the masses, her struggle and transition have been revelatory acts of extraordinary courage and a source of inspiration and hope to millions. The angst and eventual exhilaration of her transition is distilled into Transgender Dysphoria Blues, the latest release from Against Me! The words of the title song reveal not only the savage pain and existential despair of her transition but also extraordinary song writing that made this one of the best albums of 2014 and a living document of the pain and triumph of the transgender experience.
“You've got no cunt in your strut
You've got no hips to shake
And you know it's obvious
But we can't choose how we're made
You want them to notice
The ragged ends of your summer dress
You want them to see you
Like they see any other girl
They just see a faggot
They hold their breath not to catch the sick
Rough surf on the coast,
Wish I could have spent the
Whole day alone with you”
As if LJG’s music and life did not contain enough poetry, she is also vegan, and one of the most visually arresting women on the planet- a six foot two beauty sculpted out of darkness and light, and a true beacon of hope for our times.
We salute you, Laura Jane Grace.
For more about LJG check out: The Protest Music of My Life