Meet Against Me!’s Frontwoman, Laura Jane Grace

photo by Cass Bird via rollingstone.com

The same night that 61% of North Carolina voters passed an amendment banning already illegal same-sex marriage, Rolling Stone came out with an article reporting that the lead singer of the political punk band Against Me!, has come out as transgender and will start to go by Laura Jane Grace.

Grace has hinted at her gender dysphoria in songs like “The Ocean” (“And if I could have chosen/ I would have been born a woman/ My mother once told me she would have named me Laura/ I’d grow up to be strong and beautiful like her“) and “Searching for a Former Clarity” (“And in the journal you kept by the side of your bed/ Confessing childhood secrets of dressing up in women’s clothes/ Compulsions you never knew the reasons to“), but had not even shared her secret with her wife, Heather, who has remained supportive throughout her coming out. Most recently, Grace performed a new song called Transgender Dysphoria Blues at a solo show.

From a fan’s perspective, many are wondering how this might affect the future of Against Me! Things seem to be business-as-usual; the band is heading out on tour with The Cult at the end of the month. As for Grace’s iconic, growling voice, Rolling Stone writer Josh Eells says, “So far the only kind of medical thing she’s having done is hormones. She says the estrogen doesn’t affect your voice. If she goes ahead with some of the cosmetic things – like tracheal shaving, which whittles down your Adam’s apple – there’s a possibility that might affect her voice. But she’s really hesitant to do that because of that.” Laura is beginning the transitioning process by taking hormones and undergoing electrolysis treatments.

A major rock star coming out as trans would be huge news anywhere, but Grace’s coming out in the often male-dominated punk scene is especially significant. The scene can sometimes be an unwelcoming place for women musicians and fans, not to mention those who are trans or gender nonconforming. At the end of the day, though, punk rock is about being true to yourself and not being weighed down by anyone else’s expectations. Hopefully having someone as prominent and well-liked as Grace come out will be a huge step in accepting an increasingly diverse punk community.

Plus, something tells me Laura is going to make a smokin’ hot, badass frontwoman.


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Lora has written 3 articles for us.

59 Comments

  1. I’m such a huge fan of Against Me! and will continue to be so, because they are / she is pretty awesome. Total support from me. I hope they continue to make more music. It will be interesting to see the change (if any) made to their music due to her voice maybe changing. Either way I’m sure it will be good.

  2. I’m also happy to see that, at least from the parts quoted in this article, the Rolling Stone writers are using female pronouns. So few of the stories I’ve been reading about this in the mainstream media seem to understand how to report about trans issues, and keep referring to Gabel as a “he.”

  3. I saw this yesterday on some news source or another and the predominant thought that came to mind was, “Good for her!” I wish Laura Jane Grace all the happiness in the world. And Against Me! fucking rocks. It will be exciting to see how the music evolves (if it does at all).

  4. Against Me! came out of the folk-punk scene that also bred a lot of other really awesome bands that are pretty radical and awesome. Plan-It-X, one of the first labels they were on, was founded by a trans woman (if I’m not mistaken). So I think their roots are definitely queer friendly and Laura’s being out just makes that subsect of punk that much more amazing. Hopefully that translates to punk fans who got into AM! after they hit the big time.

  5. I Laura, she’s brave as hell for being who she is but I’m also still in this shocked “Holy Shit! Tom, this guy, that Tom?” state of mind that I’ve been in since Tuesday after reading the news. It’s like mind blowing in a way, nothing bad just it’ll take some time to get used to seeing her she see herself.

    • (I know you don’t mean any harm but) reactions like this are part of why it’s so hard for some of us to come out as our true selves! Because everyone around us kind of builds up this person that they expect us to be, even if it’s all a facade. And the longer we pretend to be someone we’re not, the prospect of hitting the brakes and turning things around seems harder to do.

      I’m not blaming you or anything. I just wanted to throw that out there. And of course this experience is not just limited to being trans*.

      • I get what you mean but its just like when something happens and you’re really ok with it, you just need a few to wrap your head around. This morning I had a smile on my face thinking about this new life she’s going to start and how we’re joining the journey with her. I also meant to write “I support Laura” I blame it on my not sleeping.

  6. if you haven’t read the full piece in RS yet, get on it. it’s so candid and honest, and laura seems like the sweetest badass ever, and josh eells exceeded all of my expectations. IT WAS JUST REALLY GOOD OKAY.

    • Ok I have a question on that (not with how awesome Heather is. That is beyond doubt).
      With DOMA in place, will Laura and her wife still be recognized as a married couple? (I’m assuming they live in Florida, and I’m not positive on their laws) or, does she have to undergo a ridiculous set of biological parameters to be formally recognized as a woman by the state? I’m guessing that might factor heavily into any decisions Laura Jane Grace will make in regards to her transition (state recognized marital union vs. state recognition of her gender identity).

      Moral of the story: state by state laws differing on same-sex marriage create confusing and hurtful circumstances. Obama needs to go ahead and make a federal law legalizing gay marriage and stop this state-by-state nonsense.

      • Laura and her wife won’t be in a (legal) same sex marriage until Laura legally changes her gender, which in Florida, requires gender confirmation surgery (AKA… SRS). I can’t imagine she would be getting this for quite a while yet… if then. As to whether they will still be legally married at that point, a lot of it depends upon which agency, corporation and situation they’re dealing with. Some governmental agencies, like the INS, are in the process of changing their policies to recognize relationships involving trans people. A lot of the law surrounding things like medical insurance is very much in flux. Others, like Florida state agencies, will likely be giving them a lot of problems. I’ve also known some same sex couples involving trans people where the trans partner purposely didn’t get their gender legally changed because of the uncertainty around these issues… which is a shame, but sometimes still a practical need.

  7. I saw this on facebook a few days ago and I read the Rolling Stone article and was all HOLY SHIT THIS ARTICLE IS PRETTY AWESOME, and then my friend and I started talking about Against Me!’s lyrics and yeah, it was great.

    I saw Against Me! at Reading fesival in 2010 and they were so rad, and I’m so glad Laura’s happy to be who she really is, and I hope I get another chance to see them again because man, they were awesome!

  8. Great article, Lora. Thank you for writing about this story! I was really nervous to read the comments on absolutepunk.net because it’s not always a positive community. It was great to find that most of the article comments were displays of support and encouragement for Laura!

  9. I’m just so beyond happy about this. Transwomen in punk getting positive press! (I stand by Annika’s point to not read comment sections). The song that you posted in the article is great- I hadn’t heard it before. Against Me! was one of the first bands I was obsessed with, and I’m just so happy that Laura is as amazing as she is. Fuck yeah badass women.

  10. To the people who have read the full article: where did you read it? Do you already have a subscription? I flipped through the edition I found (with Obama on the cover) and the story was absent. I really want to read the whole thing (hell I’ll purchase the magazine too), but I want the one with the story obviously. Thanks guys, and from one Laura to another, and long live the spirit of punk.

  11. I was so in love with Against Me! in high school. My senior year book quote was a lyric from T.S.R. and I had a poster of reinventing axl rose on my dorm room door which I think can take significant credit for some of the great music based friendships I formed in my first year of university.

    I’m so excited about this news! congrats to Laura Jane!!

  12. The comments on the Rolling Stone article… they make my heart hurt. That there can be so much ignorance and hatred in the world just gives me a sad…

    Still, the highest rated comments there are the most supportive. And I tried to wade in and counter the ignorance… so there’s that.

    • I’m having difficulty figuring out what to feel about those rumors. I really hope they’re not true, but whether they’re made up or not I’m not sure my bruised little trans girl heart can take it. This world sucks either way.

    • Accusing someone of rape is a very serious allegation. As I understand the rumors, they derive from a single Tumblr post which really has no substantiation to its claims. Does that mean it’s not true… no. But does the number of times this single Tumblr post has been quoted mean it’s very possibly true… no. Identifying a ‘celebrity’ as a rapist takes a lot of bravery and facing backlash, but I also know the punk music world is a small community and word about people’s actions travel fast. As it is, I’ve seen nothing on Google beyond quoting this one Tumblr post. What might be equally disturbing is that this story has been repeated on a bunch of transphobic website since news of the Rolling Stone article came out. I also note the original Tumblr post (by someone named “galesofnovember” has disappeared.

  13. …But can Laura cover The Donnas?

    BTW, Gina, my friend Emma in Missouri went post-op last year and still retains her “M” on the Misery driver’s license. Why, pray tell? Because to change it to “F” would annul her marraige to her female GG spouse.

    Can Argentina annex the US?

    oh,oh, oh, Gina, have you assessed the French made movie, “Another Girl”? If so I would like to see your comments.

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