Best Transgender Rock Star | Best of Chicago 2014 | Music & Nightlife | Chicago Reader

Best Transgender Rock Star 

Against Me!, with Laura Jane Grace second from right

Against Me!, with Laura Jane Grace second from right

Ryan Russell

Laura Jane Grace

When Against Me! front woman Laura Jane Grace moved to town last summer, it'd been more than a year since she'd been known as Tom Gabel, and her Florida-based agitprop punk band was preparing for the January release of Transgender Dysphoria Blues. Grace clearly drew inspiration from her own experiences for the album, Against Me!'s first since she came out as a transgender woman in 2012; it's a vital, poetic document of her struggle with gender identity, and her introspective lyrics fuel its huge, anthemic songs. Transgender Dysphoria Blues rips like few other rock records so far this year, and Against Me! sound galvanized in concert—when I saw them bust out the irrepressibly euphoric "Thrash Unreal" at Riot Fest, I couldn't help but grab a pal by the arm, spin in circles, and belt out the chorus in the rain.

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