By John Payne
The obstacles facing a "man" or a "woman" who has made the decision to switch sexes are huge. Consider, then, how tough -- and how liberating -- the process of becoming a woman has been for a musical star negotiating the ruff, tuff, macho world of hardcore rock 'n' roll. This is the life of Laura Jane Grace, singer of raging punks Against Me!
"Deciding to transition didn't have anything to do with being brave," she says. "It was about running for my life, trying to survive, and trying to live a more authentic existence."
Against Me!'s new record is called Transgender Dysphoria Blues. The title gives a heads-up regarding the headspace of the band's founder, formerly known as Tom Gabel, heretofore referred to as Laura Jane Grace.
She's a "transitioning transgender person," to use one rather clinical term for it. And the difficulties of this most major of life changes are hugely complicated, especially given her place in the spotlight. If you could, just imagine the slings and arrows Grace has been on the receiving end of from family, so-called friends, and all those muscled man-boy fans and internet chat dolts.