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.
Between November 4 and November 18, donations made to LGBT Books to Prisoners will make donors eligible to win one of five signed copies of Tranny. Gender Is Over, the organization behind the slogan jersey that Grace often wears onstage, will donate all collected funds on Transgender Day of Remembrance.
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.
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.