Just read: Laura Jane Grace's 'TRANNY'

"Just read" is a blog where I blog about something I just read. I'm trying to read more this year and I'd like to keep a record of that; blogging will theoretically help that cause.

Laura Jane Grace, by Ryan Russell, courtesy of Hachette Books.

Laura Jane Grace, by Ryan Russell, courtesy of Hachette Books.

This one's a quickie, because it's a link-out to Chorus.fm for the full blog. I read Laura Jane Grace's new book, TRANNY, which chronicles both the lifespan of her band, Against Me!, and her personal lifelong experience with gender dysphoria.

The book is brilliant, as Grace is an awesome storyteller, but I feel more importantly, it's an opportunity to become more educated about gender fluidity, gender identity, and more. 

A pull-out quote from my piece is below, and the full thing can be found right here.

TRANNY succeeds because of its abrupt transparency and immediate intimacy. It isn’t very long before you’re dropped into the first journal entry of the book — one dated August 10, 2000, from Gainesville, Fla. — where Grace describes, in minute detail, an occurrence of her cross-dressing at the communal punk house she lived in for a while, her door as locked as it could be, one of the most intimate moments in the early portion of the book. Journal entries like this tell most of the story throughout, as Grace, a remarkably consistent journaler for most of her life, provides narration and commentary between entries to fill in holes and explain certain things further. You’re taken through an entire Warped Tour via journal entries; you meet Grace’s primary love interests via journal entries; you live out multiple instances of cross-dressing, and you read along as Grace makes the decision to finally transition and come out to her wife, band and the public. You’re taken through the raw and intense path of the writing and recording of Transgender Dysphoria Blues itself.
Grace’s gender dysphoria simultaneously takes center stage and provides the backdrop for every single portion of her story. Even before she chronicles the beginnings of Against Me!, she notes her first memorable bout of gender-related confusion (age 5, watching Madonna dance on television). Before you experience her band’s rise off their first two full-length albums, you read through the difficulties inherent in living such a confusing life as an emotional and politically active young person; you learn about the beginnings of her addictions to drugs and alcohol and sex. You note all the Against Me! lyrics that originated from journal entries and piece together a person’s whole life. You become emotional at moments where Grace is filled with self-doubt and self-hate, suicidal, seemingly gone, considering herself incapable of love, considering herself incapable of being loved. The lows of Grace’s addictions and dependencies are absolutely brutal. Her moments spent “as her” (this is how Grace refers to her moments of cross-dressing) are concurrently joyous and grippingly sad.