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April 17, 2009 –Ashville, NC

I’m repulsed by the sight of my own body hair. It’s happened to me before.  Comes and goes in waves.  Have I lost my mind?  Estranged.  Deranged.  Perverted. 
     I'm trying not to drink on this tour which isn't easy. Weed helps when the dysphoria gets to be too much. I need a crutch.
     I need to find a 24-hour Walmart Super Store or a shopping mall. I need something feminine to wear. It's the only thing that's going to keep me sane on this run.
     Andrew and Jordan are sitting up front, singing made-up songs about "butthole stimulation." Andrew's sense of humor is reliant on the human asshole, his or other people's bowel movements, farts, anal sex, etc. It's harmless but so fucking boring.
     Tour has been moving at a quick pace. Locked into a routine of wake up and drive, stop for gas, drive some more, sound-check, find something to eat, wait for the show to start, play, load out, drive to hotel, watch TV for an hour, shower, write, sleep, repeat.
     All I can think about lately when I see an attractive female is how much I wish I was them, how much I wish their body was mine.
     The last time I had dressed in women's clothes was 2005. The urge came back and I could not control it. I wish I had been born a girl.  I always have. I don’t know how to make sense of all this, being married, having a baby in October, being in this band. How do I reconcile these feelings?

 I can't consciously choose an impossible dream sure to provide only isolation and embarrassment over the life I currently have. But goddamn I would like to.
     I daydream of disappearing, dropping off the face of the earth. Take some money out of the bank, get on a plane to some place I won't be found, change my name, grow my hair long, change my appearance, lose weight, shape my body as close as I can to a woman's, cover up my tattoos, start taking hormones, get plastic surgery, my lips, my nose, breasts. Start a new life. Hope for the best. None of it would be easy. Would I be happy? Or would I find myself feeling just as unfulfilled as I do now?

May 16, 2009--Adelaide, Australia
Some nights it doesn't feel good to be touched by strangers; to be standing, eyes closed, singing, and have someone drunkenly throw their arm around your neck and start screaming into your face, the repugnant stench of their rancid beer breath filling your nostrils.  If I were to say this to anyone, people would think I was an ungrateful asshole, don’t bite the hand that feeds.  Don’t put yourself on a pedestal.  Tonight was one of those nights.  I didn’t want to be touched.  Sorry.
     Chuck Ragan has convinced me to switch set times with him and close the show each night. He seems to think this makes sense. I disagree. He’s infinitely more talented of a solo performer than me. If there’s one thing I hope to learn from this tour it's how to be gracious.
     My alarm is set for 9 AM. I'm going to wake up, work out, and start the day. I need to reexamine everything, rethink every thought, go deep, as deep as it takes to find the songs I need.  I know they’re there. I just need to figure out how to pull them out. I want a spiritual journey, clean out the trash from the corners of my brain, drop all dead psychic weight. I need transformation, to absorb, transcend, to feel alive. Forget about the past and move forward completely. I need to kill Tom Gabel, destroy his ego.


“I’m not gonna do the claps,” George Rebelo informed us bluntly at our first practice with him. George was a veteran drummer, recording and touring professionally longer than any of us. His band, Hot Water Music, was legendary in the punk scene and, being from Gainesville, the local band we looked up to as the shining example of how to make a living playing music. Since things with Hot Water Music had cooled down over the years, George had free time, mostly picking up bar shifts to get by. The three of us all agreed he was clearly the best, easiest, quickest, most local option to fill our newly vacant drum seat.
     In the middle of our song “Those Anarcho Punks Are Mysterious,” there is a bridge where we stop playing and sing over our clapping beat into the next verse. “And we rock, because it's us against them / We found our own reasons to sing / And it's so much less confusing when lines are drawn like that.”  This was always a part of the set when Warren would shine. He'd stand up on his drum stool, grinning ear to ear, clapping his hands above his head, making sure everyone in the audience joined in. But George let us know right away that he had no intention of doing this. At no point would he be standing up and clapping, he told us.
     George was a great drummer, but once again, a drummer with a completely different feel than the last. Instead of being unable to emulate Warren's style, he was often just stubbornly unwilling to. We liked and respected him, but it was immediately obvious that he viewed playing with us as a good career opportunitythere was money in the gig and the chance to work with a  legendary producer.  He wasn't planning on being an invested member of the band. Why would he? We were being sued, after all.
     He would take a smoke break between every three songs during practice. Andrew and I convinced him to attend Crossfit endurance training with us five days a week before practice every morning. We said we wanted to go, and we did, but really, we wanted him to go. Hit a tractor tire with a sledgehammer five times in a row, then drop and do five push-ups, hit the tire 10 times, then 10 push-ups, and so on. Try doing that shit after a long night of binge drinking and weed smoking. I've never thrown up harder.
     Our practice studio in Gainesville was a 90-minute drive from my home in Saint Augustine.  I started sleeping there during the week, curled up in a sleeping bag on the floor of the gear closet among the amps and guitar cases. When the lights went out, it was a pitch-black tomb. Opening the door every morning to be greeted by the Florida sunshine and humidity was a daily act of violence against myself.
     I told Heather I was staying at the studio because I needed the time to work on the album, which was true, but really, it was because I knew it was my last chance to be her. I kept a bag of women’s clothes in a locked file cabinet in the studio's loft space. After the band left for the night, I would smoke weed and drink wine and make the space mine, as if the outside world didn't exist. With a baby coming in just a few months, I knew this behavior would have to end before it was born. I'd have to put it behind me forever once I became a fatherthe wigs, the dresses, the makeupbut if I didn't have this one last chance to be her, I would suffocate.
     After a few weeks of rehearsals and demoing with George, it was time for me to head out alone to Los Angeles for preproduction with Butch. The two of us had agreed that I would finish writing the album out there with him, working one-on-one on song structures and vocal melodies before the rest of the band came out. I was looking forward to the time with Butch, and wanted to learn anything and everything he was willing to teach me. Heather agreed to come to Los Angeles when the rest of the band did. We would have the baby there.  
     I gave myself a full week to make the drive from Florida and loaded up the car with an ounce of weed, two eightballs of cocaine, a cornucopia of assorted pills, and my bag of dresses.  No map, just driving west. I had the car windows tinted before leaving, so that I could be her for the whole drive.  This was my last hurrah.
     I didn’t even make it out of Gainesville before I was nose-deep in blow.  I stopped at the Gainesville Mall to buy underwear at Victoria’s Secret.  I checked into the first hotel across the Georgia state line, desperate to get out of men’s clothes.  Each day I would check out of my hotel a woman and, before checking into the next one, change outfits in the parking lot, wearing sunglasses to hide the makeup and putting on male attire.
     Somewhere around Tucumcari, New Mexico, I got a call from Heather saying she didn’t feel well and was going to check herself into the emergency room.  I was too fucked up to register what to do.  I should have manned up, sobered up, and booked a flight back to Florida.  But instead I sat paralyzed in my hotel room until she called back to tell me she and the baby were fine.  The doctor said she had just eaten too many avocados.
     I rode white lines through a thick cloud of smoke the whole way to California, holding the drugs in my bra.  When I hit Barstow, 100 miles outside L.A., I pulled over and threw everything out—$800 worth of clothes I’d bought on the drive west and the empty plastic bags that were once filled with drugs. Goodbye, narcotic breasts. It all went in the dumpster.  I prayed that everything else went with itall of the urges and impulses, all of the shame of a life sneaking around to hide my secret.  This was it.  I was going to be a man. I told myself; a husband to a wife, a father to a child, a frontman to a band with a hit record. A man.

© Laura Jane Grace 2016

This excerpt from Tranny: Confessions of Punk Rock’s Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout  by Laura JaneGrace with Dan Ozzi appears in The Barcelona Review with kind permission of the publisher, Hachette Books, 2016. Book ordering available through and

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Author Bio
Laura Jane GraceLaura Jane Grace is the lead singer, songwriter, and guitarist of the punk rock band Against Me! Since coming out as transgender in 2012 to Rolling Stone magazine, Grace has become an outspoken advocate for transgender awareness.  She has a daughter and lives in Chicago.  Her memoir Tranny: Confessions of Punk Rock’s Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout came out in 2016, published by Hachette Books.

Top photo by Mitchell Wojcik

taken from an article on the book and Laura Jane Grace by Dan Ozzi