Transgender Dysphoria Blues might just be one of the most thrilling and groundbreaking albums released for quite some time. The album throws the topic of Laura Jane Grace’s transition and gender identity in your face in an honest and truly admirable way. What it means to be transgender and the struggle with coming to terms with your gender identity are two things at the core of this album which both desperately need greater accurate representation in mainstream society. This album confidently depicts not only Grace’s struggles, but the difficulties faced by innumerable trans people everywhere allowing the album to become a potent resource for celebrating, raising awareness of and informing people on the very real existence of trans and gender-variant identities.
Talking Transgender Dysphoria Blues is the captivating opening track and probably one of my favourites on the entire album. It’s a powerful middle finger to the world and a bold embracing of Grace’s trans identity. It’s pretty empowering to listen to. You could easily describe this song as a rebellious gender politics anthem. It’s a refreshing slap in the face, combining brutally honest and potent lyrics explicitly referencing tireless battles with dysphoria such as “you’ve got no cunt in your strut” and “shoulders too broad for a girl” with a catchy fast paced thrashy guitar riffs that get you shouting and fist pumping along. Grace’s ragged and intense vocals definitely establish the tone for the rest of the album as one of unrest and rebellion.
True Trans Soul Rebel is an empowering anthem and a celebration of gender diversity. The song seems to turn self loathing into a powerful embracing of identity, it’s empowering and cathartic to say the least. It’s a powerful advocation telling you to thrive against any kind of adversity. The album ends ferociously with Black Me Out containing lyrics such as “I want to piss on the walls of your house” and “I don’t want to feel that weak and insecure” presenting Grace’s embrace of her own identity and empowered stance.
Dead Friend and Paralytic States are both two incredibly infectious songs both using softer and more melodic guitar riffs and parts compared to some of the thrashier songs. Don’t get me wrong though, they’re still incredibly bold and powerful songs. The riffs, drums and vocals combined make them both ridiculously catchy. Likewise, Fuckmylife666 begins with euphoric melodic guitar parts before plunging into a slightly thrashier sounding song with robust vocals and Inge Johansson’s strong reverberating bass lines. Grace’s vocals definitely flourish on this album as she incorporates both harsh and refined vocals.
Dealing so bluntly and with topics such as addiction, loss and gender politics makes the album brave and admirable. It is incredibly empowering and up-lifting despite lyrically being quite graphic and dark at times. For me, the sheer honesty and explicitness of the lyrics make the album truly groundbreaking making the difficulties and realities of being trans visible and real. Against Me! and their new album are both undeniably important as hell.
For those interested in finding out more about trans and and other gender variant identities, you should check out Laura Jane Grace’s really informative True Trans series on youtube!