You may recognize Laura Jane Grace as the lead singer of the band Against Me! but she has also been a publicly transgender activist since coming out in 2012. Although the album Transgender Dysphoria Blues is not autobiographical - it follows a fictional transgender sex worker's life - the feelings of dysphoria are deeply personal to Laura Jane Grace. In an interview with NPR, she said, "Feeling that what you're doing is being misinterpreted by most people, because it's not being presented in the proper context, was something that built to a breaking point for me."
The titlular song, which opens the album, begins with the lyrics, "Your tells are so obvious/
Shoulders too broad for a girl" which launches the album into the trans anthem it has become. The lyrics are poignant throughout the album, alternating between feelings of self-loathing and a brash rebellion against societal norms. The lyrics feel incredibly personal for a concept album, showing how much of her own soul Grace put into the music. In the song True Trans Rebel Soul she sings, "You should've been a mother/ You should've been a wife/ You should've been gone from here years ago/ You should be living a different life" in an act of both mourning and celebrating the life she didn't have and the life she has. Perhaps the most personal song on the album, Two Coffins, is Grace's song to her daughter where she gives thanks for their relationship and contemplates their mortality in a soberly beautiful ballad. The chorus sings, "How lucky I ever was to see/ The way you smiled at me/ Your little moon face shining bright at me/ One day soon there'll be nothing left of you and me."
There are many themes explored on this album, but the strong emphasis on gender identity and trans women's strength and struggles is extremely important. There is a definite lack of mainstream music focusing on those issues, and although Against Me! is not typically played on a Top 40 radio station they are still a popular band with a large following, which makes Laura Jane Grace's coming out and this album so wonderful.
You can check out the album from the library by clicking the album cover below: