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Against Me!’s newest album, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, may be the 17-year-old punk band’s most honest release to date.
Transgender Dysphoria Blues — released on Jan. 21, debuting at No. 23 on the Billboard 200 Chart — is the first album since lead singer Laura Jane Grace announced that she is transgender and no long identifies as Tom Gabel. While punk has always touted brutal honesty and a “f— you” attitude, Grace says she often second-guessed herself when writing songs before, but such is no longer the case.
“It felt easier and it felt more honest in a lot of ways,” she tells The Hollywood Reporter. “For me with this record, it’s all really real to me, and I know it very well just because it’s what I’ve lived. My opinions are solid in that sense. I don’t have any doubt in the way I feel.”
Grace says it’s important for her to show a trans perspective to fans as well as the media, and hopes that by being visible and transparent, she can help erase the taboos so often associated with the transgender community. Her newfound self-assurance helped her to confront head-on variously themes within her songwriting, such as identity conflict and past feelings of shame.
“There were songs in the past on Against Me! records that were dealing with gender disorder and stuff like that, but I felt like it was something shameful and something that I had to hide,” she explains. “So being able to talk about how I feel in a very direct way was very liberating.”
With classic punk rock as a driving influence on her life, Grace is a big fan of anarcho-punks Crass, an English band essential to the movement. When asked if being transgender is the most “punk rock” thing she can do, the frontwoman laughed.
“I think that being true to yourself and trying to live an authentic existence is a very punk rock thing, and that’s one of the lessons that I’ve always gotten from punk,” she said, then referencing lyrics from the Crass song, “Big A, Little A.” “Crass has the lyrics that go, ‘Be exactly who you want to be, do what you want to do, I am he and she is she, but you’re the only you,’ so that’s something that I’ve always tried to follow in life.”
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