Tranny: Confessions of Punk Rock’s Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout
By Laura Jane Grace with Dan Ozzi
(Hachette Books)

From a young age we’re encouraged to act like who we are deep inside. Adults tell us to “Be yourself,” which usually means, “be yourself within certain parameters that allow you to still fit in.” But what if being you feels like it’s not socially accepted? It’s an age-old phrase weighed down by its social caveats. Laura Jane Grace of punk band Against Me! learned this all too well growing up in suburban Florida—a life shunned by school, police, religion, and family. Being an anarchist punk caused trouble every step of the way, and she wasn’t even offering her true self yet as a transgender woman.

Against Me! have torn up stages worldwide with a growling machismo for nearly two decades. Through different points in her career Laura Jane grace has felt like a sellout. Stepping out of basement shows and signing to Fat Wreck Chords or into the majors of Sire Records, “fans” have been sure to remind her of this notion. Beyond the “broken rules” of the scene, however, nothing ever felt as scarring as selling out her self-identity. Good money, good drugs, and commercial luxuries were in Grace’s arsenal to mute the suffering inside. None of it mattered, until she could be her true self.

Tranny: Confessions Of Punk Rock’s Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout starts at the beginning of her life with time spent sifting from city to city in a military family, an upbringing that taught her to void out attachment to friendships and appreciate the road. Years of life spilled out words of daily existence into her journals all along the way. These pages honestly, painfully, and realistically expose her gender dysphoria in the wake. The reading of Tranny feels like a long conversation with a close friend. She’s detailing the pain she’s been going through. With each step and struggle, you feel more love and support for this friend. You’re in her corner. At her point of self-revelation and acceptance, it’s a very celebratory moment. The personal thoughts scribbled become familiar as the lyrics fans shout together.

Earlier this year I had the chance to see Grace perform a pared-down version of songs accompanied by journal entry readings. It was one of the most personal, moving shows I’ve ever been to. It was a cathartic for not only her to share these stories, but the momentum was felt throughout the venue. The songs felt more invigorated than ever before, like they were being sung at full force like never before. Grace had found the voice she’d been searching for.

This book emerges one week after a tough election cycle that could threaten equal rights. While the punk rock scene has not always promoted the purest of minds, it often encourages progress—even when it’s just a bunch of pissed off mohawks yelling into a mic, it’s raising awareness. Never become complacent. Everyone deserves to have his or her life. Punk rock is freedom of genuine self. Laura Jane Grace’s story shows how vital that phrase “Be Yourself” truly is.

Purchase the book here.

5-stars

Author

A designer + photographer, cyclist + breakfast lover. Dying to live.

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