Against Me!, Transgender Dysphoria Blues (Total Treble Music), 2014
On the title track of the sixth studio offering from Gainesville, Florida, band Against Me!, singer Laura Jane Grace shouts, “You want them to notice the ragged ends of your summer dress. You want them to see you like they see every other girl.” The lyric is seemingly innocuous to those unfamiliar with Grace’s recently announced transgendered status. But the follow up lyric leaves no doubts to her about her message: “They just see a faggot. They’ll hold their breath not to catch the sick.” This lyric is the centre point of what could be one of the most important punk album in decades, if not ever.
Grace’s powerful lyrics—and the band’s perpetually brutal, energetic backup—on Transgender Dysphoria Blues proves modern castrated punk rock music still matters beyond its myopic borders. This album is a ferocious record of Grace’s struggles, as well her community’s. Of course, the hurt wouldn’t mean as much without the heart. There are moments of macabre tenderness. In the sole soft track “Two Coffins,” Grace sings, “How lucky I ever was to see the way that you smiled at me. Your little moon face shining bright at me. One day soon there’ll be nothing left of you and me.” It reminds us we all live and die; some just do with more dignity.
Transgender Dysphoria Blues is an album that should make you feel sad and angry, because until we accept each other, we are denying each other from being who we truly are.