You’d ideally want to think that venues and shows and clubs, places where people are going to dance and celebrating and enjoying life would be the safe place, but it’s clearly not. To think that whatever crazy fucking religious wars or whatever wars are happening out there are leaking into those areas, it’s so fucking terrifying.
The nerves started as soon as I got to North Carolina. Just driving into the state, stopping at gas stations, going where you go — I was on edge all day. I always wait until there’s a unisex restroom, because I’m afraid. I also don’t want to make people uncomfortable — my desire is to feel comfortable, but I don’t want to make other people feel uncomfortable either. If it’s a crowded public restroom, I know I don’t pass, and I know that if I walk into a women’s restroom, someone would possibly take offense. Maybe scream. Who knows? In North Carolina, with it being illegal, it was like, Okay, well, we’re going to wait until there’s a Starbucks, since Starbucks has single-unit bathrooms, and that’s where we usually stop. Which is ironic because I’m someone who wrote a song about throwing bricks through Starbucks’s windows.
Tasneem Nashrulla, writing for Buzzfeed, spoke with Laura Jane Grace of Against Me! about the band’s choice to play a concert in North Carolina next month in light of the state’s ridiculous new “bathroom law.”
“Bryan Adams and Bruce Springsteen aren’t transgender,” Grace said. “For them to say, ‘I think this bill is messed up and I’m not going to go here and be part of the state,’ that seems like the effort of an ally, which is really commendable.”
But Grace said that the transgender people who live in North Carolina don’t have the option to boycott the state. “They live here. They pay taxes. They are prisoners to it.” While Grace acknowledged that someone like Springsteen canceling his concert brought a lot of attention to the issue, she said, “no one would care if we canceled.”
But the title fits the book. After we had been working on it for months, and had poured several thousand words into it, I told Dan what I wanted to call it. “Now that I’ve heard it, I can’t imagine it being called anything else,” he said. There is a certain element of expletive present behind the title, sure, but in no way did I arrive at it for the purpose of sensationalism. I’m not attempting to publish a self-aggrandizing piece of writing here. TRANNY is an incredibly scathing look back at my life. There are themes of hatred and aggression, directed at me from other people, but mostly inwardly, from myself. I’ve been called horrible insults and slurs over my career, my reactions to some have even famously landed me in jail. But I’ve learned to adapt by embracing them, and using them as armor, which should be apparent from the subtitle: Confessions of Punk Rock’s Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout.
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.