Why We’re Covering This: If there are two things are true about us, it’s these: We hate discrimination and bigotry in all its forms, and we love Against Me!, the band led by Laura Jane Grace who transitioned in 2012 and made the phenomenal album Transgender Dysphoria Blues about the process.
That’s what Laura Jane Grace of Against Me! said as she burned her birth certificate on stage in North Carolina this Sunday.
— kathryn wymer (@kwymer6) May 16, 2016
Grace did so in protest of the transphobic bathroom bill HB2 — which, we’ll remind you, not only encourages the policing of bathrooms, but also prevents cities from passing LGBTQ protections. Many musicians, including Bruce Springsteen, have refused to play North Carolina in protest, but artists like Grace see performing in the state as a way to protest on the ground.
In an interview with Buzzfeed from last month, Grace said that she commended artists like Springsteen or Ryan Adams for boycotting the state, she wouldn’t. Besides Against Me! not being quite big enough to get the same headlines as Bruce — “no one would care if we canceled” — but more importantly, trans people in North Carolina can’t boycott. As she said, “They live here. They pay taxes. They are prisoners to it.”
Not only that, but it’s important for her as an out trans celebrity to be visible: “When you feel targeted as a trans person, the natural inclination is to go into hiding. But visibility is more important than ever; to go there and have the platform of a stage to stand on and speak your mind and represent yourself.”
While at the time of the interview, Grace didn’t know what she’d do, merely that it’d be a sign that “trans people are not going to be scared,” she chose well. By burning her birth certificate, with her assigned-at-birth gender, it’s a clear, symbolic gesture — and it makes for a great visual.
The band is taking a couple weeks off, but their tour re-starts on June 2, in Lancaster, PA.