Tranny: Confessions of Punk Rock's Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout By Laura Jane Grace

Tranny: Confessions of Punk Rock's Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout By Laura Jane Grace
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The history of Against Me! is a particularly fascinating one: from solo underground anarchist punk to full-band slick radio rock (but like, awesome radio rock), Laura Jane Grace's career choices have pissed off people to a comical degree. In her first autobiography, Tranny: Confessions of Punk Rock's Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout, it's all laid out in brutally honest detail, as are Grace's long-time feelings of gender dysphoria and her decision to come out as trans a few years back.
 
Because of all this, Tranny is a very open and real book, and one that will contain surprises even for hardcore Against Me! fans.
It's shocking, for example, to hear Grace admit, straight up, that with White Crosses, she was trying to write a hit record; it's depressing to hear her talk about one old band member in an old journal entry and say she wishes he was still in the band. These old journal entries — riddled with phrases that fans will recognize, as they ended up becoming Against Me! lyrics — contain the most honest insights: Grace refers to signing to Sire Records as feeling like a "declaration of surrender" rather than an achievement, for example. The whole major label era of the band is completely exhausting to read about: Grace refers to the New Wave tour as "a fight to the death that we weren't winning."
 
Coupled with what is essentially one disaster after the next with Against Me! are the conflicts in Grace's personal life relating to her dysphoria. Here, she lays out more honestly than ever before how her marriage crumbled after she came out, as well as how she had to hide her feelings for years while on the road with the band, often in a hyper-male environment. She talks about a female fan lifting up her shirt one night at a concert while Grace was performing; Axl Rose's autobiography this isn't — Grace's thoughts are anything but your typical rock star's, particularly in that moment.
 
Tranny provides fascinating insight into Against Me!, too; reading about the behind-the-scenes turmoil of the changing band members, the record labels and the shifts in sound after wondering what the hell is going on with this band for so many years is incredible, and to see the band arrive at a place where — hopefully and seemingly — they are happy and in positive spirits is a huge sigh of relief.
 
It's also a huge sigh of relief to read about Grace on a personal note at the end of the book. While the reader is left with the feeling that the road ahead is still not necessarily going to be easy for her, she seems to have attained a sense of peace, and of self, after years of self-questioning. Hers has been a very public battle, happening through the framework of an oft-dysfunctional band, and half the time even fans didn't realize the extent of it. Tranny lets it all out in one cathartic, well-written and satisfying confession. (Hachette)