Laura Jane Grace - Tranny:  Confessions of Punk Rock's Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout [Book] (Cover Artwork)

Laura Jane Grace

Laura Jane Grace: Tranny: Confessions of Punk Rock's Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout [Book]

Tranny: Confessions of Punk Rock's Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout [Book] (2016)

Hachette books


4.5
For a long time, there have been few role models for trans people. There have been few stories about trans people in the media. We have rarely been able to see characters that reflect ourselves in movies and television. I've talked to a good number of other trans women who have talked about how s...

For a long time, there have been few role models for trans people. There have been few stories about trans people in the media. We have rarely been able to see characters that reflect ourselves in movies and television. I've talked to a good number of other trans women who have talked about how seminal a moment The Drew Carey Show was for us, because, while it was someone who still identified as male, we at least had a crossdressing character on television. It was imperfect, but it was at least something that sparked that idea in the back of our heads that this sort of thing might be possible. People say we now have Caitlyn Jenner to turn to as a role model, but a Trump-supporting reality TV star who narrowly avoided manslaughter charges is not my idea of a role-model. Thankfully, we're entering an era when better trans role models are starting to gain notoriety, like Laverne Cox and Jamie Clayton, but none of them mean as much to me and gave me as much inspiration to pursue my own journey with gender identity as Laura Jane Grace. For me, the idea of wanting to be a woman was always in the back of my mind, but it seemed like such an abstract. I had met few other people who had gone through it, and didn't see much of it in the media anywhere. I was already a fan of Against Me! when Grace made her announcement, and her coming out made the idea real to me. It became a possibility that I could actually see, rather than an abstract that I could never imagine actually going through. So for myself, and for other people like me who were inspired by Laura Jane Grace to follow our paths to our real selves, her memoir, Tranny: Confessions of Punk Rock's Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout, is an opportunity to delve more into the story of the woman who inspired us.

That's not to say that Tranny is only going to appeal to trans people. It's as much the story of Against Me!'s history as it is the story of Grace's transition, as Grace's career and gender identity are forever intertwined. It's the most fascinating biography of a rock band I've read since Passion is a Fashion: The Real Story of the Clash. Grace and her co-author Dan Ozzi weave a compelling narrative, with all of your favorite musicians from punk and beyond showing up as characters along the way. Fat Mike plays the role of the punk scene's benevolent mob boss who welcomed Grace into the punk rock family. Anti-Flag show up and, predictably, come off as uptight and finicky for a punk band, but ultimately, Grace admits to being the bad guy in her friction with them. Chuck Regan, Blink-182, Joan Jett, and Rancid show up along the way, as do, surprisingly, Bruce Springsteen and Max Weinberg.

Grace isn't afraid to let you know which stories relate to which Against Me! songs, with chapter titles mostly named after the band's song titles. Grace has kept a journal for a long time, and transcribes some of her journal entries into the narrative. Some of the lyrics from songs can even be seen in their earliest forms in these journal entries. I wouldn't be surprised if Grace and Ozzi doctored the journal entries a little bit to help them fit the narrative of the story better, but they still add a great sense of authenticity to the book. I recommend listening to Against Me! as you read the book, particularly listening to each album that the band is working on at the point in the book that they're working on it. For me, this resulted in a rather bittersweet coincidence, as the Black Crosses version of "Because of the Shame" came on just as I was reading the journal entry about the very funeral described in that song. Half of the lyrics to the chorus appear in the journal entry.

But the biggest strength of Tranny is Grace's vulnerability. She is brutally honest about her gender dysphoria from the beginning, and all of her insecurities are on full display, especially in her journal entries. Rather than causing me to lose faith in my heroine, I found all of Grace's insecurities and fears about her gender identity to be empowering. To know that someone who I consider as strong as Laura Jane Grace had the exact same fears and insecurities when she was in the place that I'm in right now, well it reminds me that I'm in good company and my insecurities are pretty common.

Tranny is a triumphant story of fear and strength, and a great peek behind the curtain of one of the most important bands in punk today. Laura Jane Grace proves herself to be as good of a storyteller as she is a songwriter, making Tranny a must-read for anyone dealing with their own gender dysphoria, or anyone who just wants to learn more about the topic. Tranny is the kind of book you're going to want to read again and again.