Against Me frontwoman Laura Jane Grace’s past three years have been as rocky as they are inspiring. In 2012, the 34-year-old punk-rocker came out to the world as transgender and began taking hormone treatments. Grace’s longtime drummer left Against Me soon after, followed by its bassist. Then, in 2014, Grace and artist Heather Hannoura, the mother of her 5-year-old daughter, got divorced. But Grace rebounded with the acclaimed Transgender Dysphoria Blues, one of 2014’s best rock albums, and AOL Web documentary series True Trans, which was nominated for a 2015 Emmy. Now, in the wake of Against Me’s new live album 23 Live Sex Acts (released Sept. 4 on Total Treble), Grace is focusing on the joys of living in her own skin for the first time.
Congrats on your Emmy nomination. Did you have a speech prepared?
Totally. I went into it with that attitude of, “Wow, this is cool — who cares if I win?” You get to say, “I was nominated for an Emmy.” But it would’ve been awesome to win. I’m not going to lie about that.
You came out three years ago — how has life changed for you since then?
It was like stepping on a roller coaster — that’s a cliche example, but it’s true. Coming out was this super-huge rush, then there was a kind of coming down. But now I can recognize the past two years of my life as the best thus far. I’ve been able to have the most fun and be the most relaxed.
You mentioned a “coming down.” What was your lowest point?
I bottomed out and had a nervous breakdown. I equate it to having to destroy a former ego; you had this person that you held on to because it was who you were told you were. You had to destroy that first before you could become somebody else and start living a new life. But you’ve got to survive — you have a kid that’s your responsibility. What’s the alternative? I’ve got to get up and go take my daughter to school. I can’t just lay here and give up.
Have you started dating since your divorce?
It’s really hard to date when you’re in a band, twice-divorced and have a 5-year-old. And I can never figure out how people are coming at me: If they’re attracted to fading masculinity or emerging femininity, or just the idea of who I am. So, I don’t f—ing know. I’ve been trying for a second, but I’m kind of at the point where I’ve given up.
Caitlyn Jenner recently came out as transgender. How did you react?
It’s kind of a double-edged sword, because obviously she’s putting herself out there — she’s on a reality TV show. But at the same time, having gone through a public transition, I respect how much pressure is involved in that. So more power to you. I’ll respect your privacy; do your thing. Because I never f—ing watched the Kardashians’ [TV shows], there’s no reason to start watching that shit now.
Listen to Against Me and other artists featured in this week’s issue of Billboard below.
This article originally appeared in the Oct. 17 issue of Billboard.