Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Against Me! singer feels liberated

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NEW YORK -- Laura Jane Grace, who came out as transgender two years ago, says she's able to sing in a new, liberated voice on her band's latest album because she's no longer hiding.

Grace, 33, came out as transgender in 2012. She was born Tom Gabel and has performed as the lead singer of the Florida-based punk rock band Against Me! since 1997.

"This isn't the first time on an Against Me! record that I've written songs dealing with those feelings, but it's the first time that I think I'm able to be interpreted correctly or been able to be taken from the correct perspective," Grace said in a recent interview. "So there was a lack of frustration going into this record that's a really good feeling."

The band's sixth album, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, is a concept record about a transgender prostitute. The album reached No. 23 on the Billboard 200 albums chart in late January.

"It's pretty self-explanatory," Grace said of the album's title. "I'm a person who's going through gender transition and a lot of the record was written leading up to the decision to embrace that and to go public with that -- in my private life and in my public life."

The band is on an international tour that includes a sold-out show at the West End Cultural Centre on April 1. Band member Atom Willard said Grace's honesty made the group stronger.

"Being passionate about what you're doing and what you're singing about and what you're playing is paramount to making the music good in my mind," the drummer said. "So really to get to the best performance and best recording and the best songs ... we're very likeminded about it."

Grace, who is married and has a four-year-old daughter, said deciding to transition wasn't easy.

"I've dealt with gender dysphoria as early as I could remember," Grace said. "The decision to fully transition was something that took a long time to come to, for sure. And it was something that I struggled with for a long time, but I got there at the end."

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 25, 2014 C3

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