Being drawn to Laura Jane Grace’s memoir, TRANNY: Confessions of Punk Rock’s Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout, is a natural side-effect of being hypnotized, mesmerized, and forever in awe of Against Me!’s Transgender Dysphoria Blues. I appreciated Transgender Dysphoria Blues for a myriad of reasons: It’s a hell of a rock-and-roll album, it’s intimate and personal in its storytelling, the way my favorite artists have always sung their stories, and it made me a better person. The latter point is not something that can be said for a ton of my favorite albums.
About one minute into the lead track, front-woman Laura Jane Grace snarls, “you want them to notice the ragged ends of your summer dress, you want them to see you like they see every other girl, they just see a faggot, they’ll hold their breath not to catch the sick” … and the gauntlet is thrown down. What Against Me!’s new album, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, offers is a mixture of attitude and bravado that pulls together an emotion, weight, and gravitas that I’ve felt missing from music for a while. The lyrics contain something actually worth saying and while the sing-a-long choruses may get stuck in your head, there’s an underlying message that expels itself in a way unique to music — one that travels from head to heart and leads to rumination long after the guitars and drums dissipate.