In a new interview with NPR’s Fresh Air, Against Me!'s Laura Jane Grace talks more about her upbringing, punk and transition, explaining it as though she felt “twin souls” warring inside of her when she was younger.
“I didn't hear the term ‘transgender’ until I was probably, like, 19 years old,” Grace explains. “Who wants to grow up to be something that you feel like is going to cost you a normal life?”
Growing up, Grace explains that she found an appeal through punk that she couldn’t find anywhere else. In a sense, it was a “form of armor.”
“When you're wearing a big leather jacket with spikes on it and you're charging out your hair with Knox gelatin, I mean, you're like, arming yourself. I got beat up a lot, so that was something to kind of hold onto,” Grace explains.
“At first, especially living where I was living, like, the nihilism of it all attracted me—the idea of live fast, die young—because I didn't think I was going to make it out of South Florida, especially [because] I got arrested and was already a felon by the time I was like 14, 15 years old, so I really thought I was going to get stuck there. So the idea of dying was appealing.”
And growing up with gender dysphoria led her to a “binge-and-purge cycle,” with feelings of shame and self-hate leading her to self-destructive behaviors and, ultimately, led her to feeling that she was “quite possibly schizophrenic” until she heard the term transgender and finally understood what she was feeling.
“Being stuck in that … binge-and-purge cycle, where engaging in any kind of behavior that gave in to your dysphoria was then immediately met afterwards with intense feelings of shame and self-hate — I was a cutter. I actively sought out self-destructive things like deciding, like, I am going to smoke cigarettes. This tastes terrible, it just made me throw up, but I'm going to keep going until I like these cigarettes. Thinking in my head, How can I get a hold of drugs? How can I find cocaine? …,” Grace explains.
“And that's like [at] 13 years old, because I didn't know … I had no resources. I had no one to turn to, to talk about it. I used to go to a church group — the church paid for me to go to therapy. The church kicked me out of church eventually, because they thought I was a lost cause and there were just no words for it. Again, I didn't hear the term “transgender” until I was probably, like, 19 years old. Who wants to grow up to be something that you feel like is going to cost you a normal life?”
Listen to her full conversation with Fresh Air's Terry Gross below:
Against Me! are currently on the final few legs of their spring tour with Green Day. Check out the list of remaining cities and dates below!
4/5 Broomfield, CO – 1stBank Center*
4/7 Las Vegas, NV – MGM Grand Garden Arena*
4/8 San Diego, CA – Valley View Casino Center*
Watch more: frnkiero andthe cellabration and Laura Jane Grace cover John Lennon’s “Instant Karma!”