November 30, 2016

The Stories are Important: Grace's "Tranny"



I finished this book this week. I enjoyed it. But I’m not entirely sure what to say about it.

From the start, I am a fan of her band, Against Me! I’m still a fan even if it becomes just another name for what she does. But I’m not a huge fan. I know bigger fans, who have seen her (in both fake Tom and real Laura phases) than I have. AM! Is like a top 20 band for me and I was trying to think if another similar artist in my own esteem wrote something would I have preordered it sight unseen six months in advance of the release date?

Probably not.

Why is that? Well, look at the title. Grace’s dysphoria is the story, for better or worse. This book, thigh, is different. Despite the title, it is more a straight narrative about growing up and wanting to be in a band and then being in a band. And then the band does ok and then it does better and then it alienates some of the original fans.

The hints at the dysphoria are there. But it feels like a bit of a bait and switch. If the dysphoria is the story and someone grabs the book for that, it is only hinted at in the opening chapters. For me, this is the part where I allow myself to say that I’m glad I never had to face even a marginal level of fame. And I create the illusion that my 2000 followers on twitter are just the right amount.

But at the end Grace start to get deep about the story that makes her story the thing that people want to read about- no matter the reason. The problem is that there’s the earlier hints, and lines about life living in the closet, but the out of the closet stuff has been covered in other publications.


I want Laura to live her truth. I’m glad she can now. But this either seems too exploitative or not exploitative enough. I’m not sure. What I can imagine it does is allow other transwomen to live their truths, so that the details here are unimportant if they focus too much on the band or not. Ultimately, as a society we are better off when more people tell their stories and we approach closer to a universal truth (if it even exists).