Laura Jane Grace on 'WTF With Marc Maron': 10 Essential Moments
Not long after Marc Maron nabbed President Obama for WTF With Marc Maron (the crème de la crème of the podcast world), he's back with an interview that's arguably even more essential listening. It's with Laura Jane Grace of punk rock outfit Against Me!, whose 2014 LP Transgender Dysphoria Blues peaked at No. 23 on the Billboard 200.
While Grace has spoken about transitioning in interviews, tweets and op-eds since coming out as transgender in 2012, this is easily the lengthiest, most candid conversation she's had about her life. Their discussion covers everything from a run-in with police as a teenager to her "double life" before coming out to her ongoing divorce with her second wife. We recommend listening to the full 83-minute podcast, but in case you don't have time (or want the highlights before you dive in), we've excerpted 10 essential moments below.
How the Punk Community Responded to Her Coming Out
"[The plan was to] go ahead and come out before anything was obvious," Grace explained to Maron of her decision to go public. "People in the punk scene are, in general, kinda homophobic. If it had not come up, I think people would have been way more unaccepting than if I said, 'Look, this is what's going on with me, can you please fuck off while I do this.'" Later in the podcast, Grace admitted the response to her coming out was a pleasant surprise. She said her bandmates were "totally cool" and "punks have been really supportive and really cool. There have been a couple dicks. Don't read the comments."
Why Two Band Members Left After She Came Out
According to Grace, two band members leaving after her transition was totally coincidental. "The drummer was kind of a jerk," she told Maron. "The bass player was a dear friend and it was time for him to move on, no relation to that."
Her Parents' Response
"My mom has been very supportive," Grace said -- but she hasn't spoken with her dad since coming out. When Maron asked if she wanted that relationship repaired, she said, "I hope, maybe," but is waiting for him to make the next move. "Even though I'm 34 years old, I'm still allowed to be the kid. You come to me."
On Getting Beaten by Cops As a Teen
Grace told Maron about getting "lippy" with cops as a teenager and being beaten as a result. The incident left Grace with 180 hours of community service and two felony convictions. "I was fucked. Fifteen years old and a twice convicted felon. I had sealed my deal as far as my options for the future. I was tried as an adult."
Grace Made Fun of Maron for an Awkward Question
"I was living two lives," Grace told Maron of her life on the road with Against Me! as compared to her home life with her daughter and wife. "When I was in a hotel, I was her."
"So you're putting on makeup and wearing the clothes?" Maron asked of Grace's hotel stays. Grace laughed and pointed out the awkward phrasing. "'Wearing the clothes?' Wearing women's clothes, Marc." Grace said wearing women's clothing was "the only way to calm this tension inside of me," but she was frequently mistreated by cashiers while buying the women's clothes at department stores. "The cash register is like, 'you're disgusting,' they don’t even want to take the money out of your hand."
Why She Remarried Despite Gender Dysphoria
"I got focused, sober, healthy -- I wasn't fucked up making bad decisions," says Grace of life prior to her second wife, whom she's in the process of divorcing. "And then I feel in love. I didn't want to fall in love, but I fell in love, and I ignored being totally honest about who I was. Suppress, suppress. And that made me more and more unhappy as you're pushed into cis-normative lifestyle of husband, wife, kid, cars in the garage. Then [it was] like, 'Oh my fucking god, the walls are closing in more and more.'"
Clarifying Her Sexual Attraction
Much like Caitlyn Jenner's Diane Sawyer interview, Grace explains her sexual attraction is separate from her gender identity. "Is your sexual attraction to women?" Maron asked, to which Grace replied, "Yeah. Mmm-hmm. That's not to say I haven't made out with a couple of guys."
Explaining Her Post-Coming Out Suicide Attempt
Describing how the divorce came out, Grace said she and her wife realized they weren't in a "good spot" and felt, "It's all on me." Grace admitted, "I had a suicidal nervous breakdown a year after coming out. And I just dissolved as a person." When Maron asked if she attempted suicide, Grace responded succinctly.
"I did. Uh-huh."
"Pills and alcohol."
How Coming Out to Her Wife Went Down
"I said, 'Look, I'm a transsexual. This is the way I feel. I want to transition.'" Grace admitted her idea of what transitioning meant was very limited at the time. "The level of information out there was like YouTube testimonial videos."
Maron's Nomenclature Gaffe
Prior to speaking with Grace, Maron acknowledged he was a little nervous about saying the wrong thing during the interview. A recurring theme during the chat was how new and uncharted transgender issues are to most Americans -- even Grace had a lot to learn when she made the choice to transition. An offhand moment during the podcast testified to this. After Grace shared her long history of activism, Maron responded, "That's pretty earnest, man." Of course, many people say "man" in casual conversation to both men and women, but it stuck out as a reminder that even with an ally like Maron, it's still easy to make an offhand gaffe.