Laura Jane Grace: Rock’s First Trans Superstar

I have infinite respect for Laura Jane Grace for her courage and conviction. Mother Jones takes a look at the Against Me! singer and how she has become rock’s first trans superstar.

Laura Jane Grace, the 36-year-old frontwoman of the punk band Against Me!, is no longer surprised by the secrets her fans reveal to her. Whether it’s the transgender girls at shows confiding that they had planned to kill themselves until they discovered her music, or the men who resent her for “deceiving” them when she came out in 2012, one of the strangest parts of life as rock and roll’s first trans superstar—the band just kicked off a national tour with Green Day—is the way Grace has become not just a role model but a therapist to many of the thousands of people who buy her albums.

Sometimes she’s a target. “I think you’re an amazing person,” one grammatically challenged man wrote to her on Facebook this past July:

But you’re sending a horrible message to younger generations…I wanted to [do] porn my whole life, [but] my dick wasn’t big enough. You can’t run from who you are. You can change your physical appearance. But when you’re dead the autopsy report wont lie. You can call me an asshole, say I don’t get it. I’ve [come]…to terms with [being] a short white dude with an average penis-size.

Grace showed me this message on her iPhone at Kinfolk, a cafe in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, as we sipped Ethiopian coffees and chatted over the percussive drub of jazzy trip-hop. Grace has long sleeves of tattoos, waist-length auburn hair, and a wide, easy grin that spreads across her face whether she’s talking about the harassment she’s received, her discomfort about being a role model, or why she doesn’t want her mother to read her recent memoir, Tranny: Confessions of Punk Rock’s Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout, co-written with music journalist Dan Ozzi. “It’s not because I’m trans,” she says, flashing that charming grin. “My mom has been the most supportive person in the world. It’s because of all the booze and weed and drugs.”

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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