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Protest Song Of The Week: ‘True Trans Soul Rebel’ by Against Me!

During a concert in North Carolina on May 16, Laura Jane Grace of the band Against Me! burned her birth certificate in protest against an anti-transgender law.

Grace, a transgender person, declared as her birth certificate went up in flames, “Goodbye, gender.” She smiled as her fellow band members and the audience cheered her action.

While a number of musicians, most prominently Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, canceled shows, Grace did not believe that made much sense, since canceling would not bring near as much attention as performing would. Plus, Grace thought it was important to show solidarity with transgender people in the state, who have to endure this bigotry and discrimination.

Much attention has been paid to the part of the law, which restricts transgender people from using the bathroom which matches their gender identity. Grace also criticized the fact that the law “takes away a transgender person’s right to sue for discrimination on the state level.”

“That is huge,” Grace told The Washington Post. “I mean, if someone else has the right to sue for discrimination and I don’t, how that is constitutional?”

Against Me! put out an entire album in 2014 called “Transgender Dysphoria Blues,” which featured a combination of confessions of self-hate and pledges to be one’s self and not succumb to society’s dehumanization of transgender people.

It seems only appropriate that one of those songs be the “Protest Song Of The Week.”

“True Trans Soul Rebel” is an anthem for transgender people. Its message is directed at transgender people struggling in the face of stigma, bigotry, and discrimination. It shows solidarity by letting other transgender people know that their struggle is shared by others like them.

The song describes various scenarios: being alone on the streets with no one to take them home at night and show them love, lying in bed with a gun at the bedside while thinking about suicide, and wishing one was “normal” and had not found themselves trapped in a body they wanted to escape.

“Who’s gonna take you home tonight? Who’s gonna take you home? Does god bless your transsexual heart? True trans soul rebel,” Grace sings in the chorus.

“True Trans Soul Rebel” is an anthem for fist-pumping, for confronting one’s pain and suffering and recognizing they have the ability to overcome because they are not alone. And it should be sung with pride in the faces of lawmakers, who would prefer to demonize and make transgender people invisible.

Listen to this acoustic version of “True Trans Soul Rebel”:

President Barack Obama walks through an honor cordon before the United States Coast Guard Academy commencement in New London, Conn., May 20, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."