‘Tranny’ by Laura Jane Grace with Dan Ozzi

laura_jane_grace_tranny

Rock biographies are very often boring.  Sure, the tales of sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll are enticing, but after reading stories from Led Zeppelin, Guns N’ Roses, Kiss, and countless others, all the stories seem to blend together.  The first rock biography I ever read was No One Here Gets Out Alive by Jerry Hopkins about the life of Jim Morrison.  Your first foray into rock literature is always unforgettable, but following reading Slash, Stairway to Heaven, No Regrets, and many others, I realized that sex and drugs were only so interesting.  The one exception to this rule had always been Marilyn Manson’s The Long Hard Road Out Of Hell, until Laura Jane Grace and Dan Ozzi published Tranny.

Grace’s memoir is equal parts familiar and groundbreaking.  There are stories from Grace’s childhood and the road that could easily belong to any other punk musician, but in giving the reader insight into her state of gender dysphoria, she makes these stories that much more interesting.  Grace opens the book with her seeing Madonna on TV as a child.  Even at a young age, Grace’s gender dysphoria was something she struggled with, feeling like all of the things she wanted to be were things she could never be.  Grace discusses self-medication as a means to escape dysphoria in a lot of the book.  While there are moments of hard-partying fun to be had, Grace’s drinking and drug use is rarely in ecstasy.  Sure, there are lines of coke, raunchy escapades, and blackouts, but it’s a completely different angle than the standard rock and roll tell-all.  Her comparisons to wearing women’s clothes to drug abuse is also fascinating.  The journal entries interspersed throughout the book detail drug use, the collapse of Against Me!, falling in love, gender dysphoria, and the rebuilding of Against Me! in real time.  Grace vows to burn her old diaries during the epilogue, and it seems fitting, as she’s no longer hiding her true gender and is reborn as her true self.

Grace does have her more tender moments.  The stories of the birth of Against Me! with only a four-track recorder are touching.  Her details of her friendship with Pope, falling in love with her ex-wife, and exchanges with her daughter are funny, romantic and touching.  This makes details of deaths and dysphoria all the more gut-wrenching.  The biggest gut-punch comes when Grace’s daughter tells Grace she doesn’t want her daddy to be a girl.  In addition to the turmoil faced in her personal life, Against Me! was also struggling.  The book does end on a happy note, though, backstage with Grace and her daughter walking toward a stage.

If you’re looking for a standard book filled with shooting heroin, one night stands, and quick studio time, this might be the book for you.  If you’re looking for an in-depth view into gender dysphoria, being a punk rock sellout, and gender-transitioning, this is definitely the book for you.  Grace’s diaries show the kind of difficult reflections a person dealing with dysphoria faces, while her and Ozzi’s text provide insight into the past.  While the stories of punk-rock escapades are great, the emotion Grace brings to the stories about dysphoria are what make this an important read.  While Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox may be the most famous transwoman, Laura Jane Grace gives insight into the world of a transgender celebrity, making this necessary reading for everyone, not just Against Me! fans.

One thought on “‘Tranny’ by Laura Jane Grace with Dan Ozzi

  1. Pingback: Green Day perform “Bang Bang” at the AMA’s with “No Trump!” Chant | Burger A Day

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