Female Filmmaker Project: REALiTi (Claire Boucher, 2015)

 I still remember everything about arriving in St. Johns by airplane in September last year. I was on the way to finally live with the person whom I had been in a relationship with for years, and I distinctly recall the the feeling of purity that seemed to fill up my entire body. I’d check the time and know that with every passing minute I was another mile closer to the person that I loved, and reaching towards a place I could finally call home. For some reason I remember the chill on the windows of the aircraft and the fog that had crept over the city the most, and as it became darker and darker it felt like I was entering into a black hole, but when I came out on the other side I knew I’d be in paradise. The headphones that I had snuggly around my messy, blonde hair were feeding to me sounds of warmth, even if I was heading into an area more commonly associated with brutal cold. My Bloody Valentine’s “Loveless” swept over me in wave after wave of sonic distortion making my ears feel like pillows, and my body feel like mush in the airline seat. Still, I kept looking out the window knowing I’d soon be in a place where feelings of easiness, serenity, pleasure, and safety were boundless and the constrictions of growing up transgender in the American South would finally be unshackled from my subconscious. More importantly though, I’d feel his arms around me for the first time in my life. We skyped as often as we could, often drifting into a haze-y area of sleep as we watched each other through computer screens knowing someday this would all become physical. It would be the single greatest moment of my life. I built it up that way, and I knew it wasn’t going to disappoint me. I just had to get there. Cocteau Twins was next, and then something shimmered in the distance of the window through the impossible density of the fog, a tiny light, a slight burst of angel’s breath through the darkness telling me I was here. I couldn’t contain myself. The cliche of losing control of one’s body is not something I believed in until that moment when I started giggling to myself, and the smile didn’t seem to end on my face, but instead wrapped me up like a blanket. I still think back to this day of that music selection I had at the time, and the dissonance of feeling absolute warmth and stepping off the plane into a land of bitter cold. But I never felt the cold, because he was here. I was here. And his arms were as good as I thought they would be.

A funny thing happened the other night. I felt the shockwaves of that initial arrival once more, but it came with the images of a music video and a song that felt like a spiritual successor to the band I was listening to upon arrival in Newfoundland, and again I couldn’t push down the joy that seemed to be seeping out of my body. I felt that effervescent billowing of purity that I had only experienced once in my life. This music video triggered those feelings, and Claire Boucher’s stunning love letter to her fans in Asia is a testament to kindness and sincerity within art that felt connected to the type of love I was inundated with since arriving in Canada. REALiTi was never supposed to see the light of day, and this music video is mostly made up of shots Claire captured throughout her tour. It’s a scrapbook, but it’s also a statement to love, home, and people.

REALiTi is autumnal music. The kind of song that would play in a movie as two people desperately in love, clinging onto each other in this world finish their day and walk home. This is the essence of a hand outreaching for another or getting your hair pushed back long enough for a lover to bend in for a kiss. The anticipation of moments like that is REALiTi’s core structure musicially. Those hazing synths just eek out of the fibre of the song and Claire’s layered voice push everything up into the sky. Her voice is not one you can decipher lyrics from upon first listen, but words like scared, beautiful, love and home are enunciated and elevated for importance, and all those words connect to romance. Those words along with the icy, tenderness of the music paint REALiTi as something stunning. Claire never finished the song. She lost the original file so mixing and mastering never took place. It’s rough around the edges, and the chorus feels incomplete, but isn’t a pause important to the uncertainty of emotion? It only makes the song feel even more reflexive of humanity. And then there’s the video, a testament to colour, tone and architecture.

The bombast of the video’s colour palette in digital handheld cinematography is nothing short of extraordinary. Claire stands on a ledge at the beginning of the video only to be surrounded by lavish purples and golden street lights, her orange hair announces itself in the midst of all of the colour. As if it were her soul brightening in the face of all the mistiness surrounding her. There’s an abstract quality to her simply standing and existing within frame due to the offsetting colour of her hair and the decisions of her placement within the video. In another frame she stands with her back against a kimono painting that seems to swirl into her body that recalls the abstract. The most striking function of all the images throughout though is the relationship between nature and architecture. Grimes is shown dancing through jungle at some points, standing with the ocean to her back at others, and bathed in neon concert halls only moments later or shown moving up escalators into towering buildings. The beauty of what we have created and what we live in is not lost either way. Claire extends a level of interest in all of her subject matter and imagery finding them all equal of her lens as well as her body. Everything is worthy of being a dancehall or being shot on film with an eye for love, because this is our home, and she feels comfortable here among people with whom she’s never even met. That spark of humanity runs throughout the video, especially in the closing moments where specification on Grimes as a performer turns into Grimes as a uniter of people as they dance in the rotating yellow lights of a concert venue and join together in a singular moment of shared enjoyment.

There’s a moment in the video when everything begins to feel overwhelming where I get to the point where I’m about to cry and it’s closer to the end in the repeated lines “I go back alone” which sounds like “I go back home”. At this point Grimes is just dancing, moving her body to the music, and the video cuts to skyscrapers and fan reaction shots. Her music is her home, and the connection she has with these fans is the place where everything becomes perfect. I’m reminded of figuring out my place as well when watching this video. Since arriving in Newfoundland I’ve walked the streets, I’ve loved the people, and I found my place. My humanity was always locked up in this island rock of ice, because the person I feel truly connected to is located here. Sometimes I feel like I’m in a place separate from earth, like I lurched into some other existence that day, that I transcended my past life and was reborn into something different, because my heart’s full of love these days, and I had never felt that before. I want art that reflects the love I have for existence, and the warmth and joy we should have for the earth, each other, and the work we create right now, and Claire Boucher’s music video for REALiTi is informed by all of those things.

Smells Like Girl: Hole’s “Live Through This”

A young woman in a babydoll dress plucks away at a guitar shelved off from the world in her room while her parents are away. Her pain and hurt are burrowed deep inside of her, and she doesn’t know if her days will get any easier. The kids at school make fun of her for being different. Her hair is messy and she has no interest in the mindless jocks that snap her bra in the gym. She sits on the bleachers alone with a forged excuse in her mother’s hand writing so she doesn’t have to participate. She slides headphones out of her backpack and a journal. The album begins to play as she scribbles down poems of teenage angst. 
And the sky was made of Amethyst
Everything starts in medias res. Live Through This drops you into Courtney Love’s world immediately with a single line that sets the tone for everything to come. A sky coloured deeply in violet, like a bruise after weeks of abuse that just won’t go away. It’s the blues coming from a woman in anguish and her feelings are splayed open for everyone to see. Her guttural screams that punctuate every moment of the song show a woman in pain. “Go on take everything, take everything, I want you to” becomes a rallying cry, a cathartic moment of release. When all you want to do in this world is fight back at all the pain that’s clouding over your life like a never ending storm a moment like the chorus of this song echoes powerfully and deeply. The song is an exercise in release from Love’s shouting vocals all the way down to the descending riffs that close the song. It doesn’t exactly end with everything being better, but the blunt power of pent up anger gives one a feeling of temporary ease.
Live Through This is filled with misfit ballads. You hear songs on pop radio about girls who want to have fun, and those pining for romance, but you’ll find none of that here. It’s an album about those women on the fringes who don’t get songs written about them and all of them are aspects of Courtney Love. As much as she wants to distance herself from Riot Grrrl (she even criticizes RG on “Rock Star“) her lyrical themes fit with the premise of that movement. However, instead of telling girls to be strong she lets out a resounding cry that fragility is acceptable. This is most recognizable on “Doll Parts” when Love bellows with despair “Some day you will ache like I ache” and it stings. It feels true. In hindsight of just losing her partner it’s even more resonant. It’s bent over a church step, crying with endless grief. It’s an album of stark moments of her psyche. She’ll sing on “Plump” “They say I’m Plump, but I throw up all the time”, and it’s one of the more incisive moments on the entire album. She can’t win due to society and the eating disorder metaphor works for Love’s life. They want her to be a rockstar, they want her to be a good mom, they want her to be clean, they want her to be a role model, they want her to be the one who died instead of Kurt.
Underneath the pen of Courtney Love this album finds it’s strength, but the musical structure also captures the Loud-Soft dynamic of Pixies inspired Grunge at the time that fits these lyrics remarkably well. The majority of the songs on Live Through This start out softer in the verse letting Love’s voice coo and wrap around gentle drumming and plucky guitar chords then burst open for moments of intensity and distortion while Love screams. The real star of these instruments is Love’s emotive voice. Her band perfectly compliments everything she wants to do, but the affectations of her vocals create one of the finest vocal records of the 90s. She can display buzzsaw power in songs like “Violet” and delicate frustration on “Doll Parts” while showing Allison Wolfe a thing or two about bratty sarcasm in “Rock Star”. As much as I love the band here the show is her’s and it’s her statement of where she was in her life at the time, and it’s one of the definitive albums of the 90s.
However, it’s a shame Live Through This will never be viewed that way. The elephant in the room is that Courtney Love has been dubbed the Yoko Ono of her generation by misogynists and fools alike. She’ll always live under the shadow of her martyred spouse. Cobain’s death and drug usage are fetishized by those who love dead rock stars, but Love was eerily like Kurt, and she’s hated for the same reasons Cobain is worshiped. If she were a man she’d be a god. She’d be the saviour of rock music and the last true rock star of her generation for her authenticity and lyrical prowess. Courtney Love isn’t a man though so she’ll be hated forever for “destroying” Nirvana. If we lived in a fair society Love’s vulnerability, lyrical openness, and uniqueness would be beloved, but we don’t, and those who love Courtney are always going to be in a position where they have to defend her. I love Courtney Love. Through all her problems and issues she’s always been a tremendous artist and Live Through This is an album I often go to when I need to know I’m not alone in feeling like I’m about to fall apart. I just wish I had been smart enough to realize all of this when I was sixteen when I needed it the most. She’s an icon in a babydoll dress, smeared make up and bad hair and I’ll love her and this album forever.  

Let’s Call it Love Part 2: Beginnings

I don’t think there is any argument that Sleater-Kinney’s debut album is their weakest. It really isn’t even as good as previous LP’s by their former bands Excuse 17 or Heavens to Betsy. This album found Sleater-Kinney still honing in on their sound, but for the most part everything is all here. The riffs that play off each other, the harmonies of Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker, and the lyrics that made personal experiences into something political are all on Sleater-Kinney. They would just get better and better as the years went by, but this is a damn good start, and a touchstone record in the riot grrrl genre. 
I mentioned in the last entry that Sleater-Kinney would not often categorize themselves as riot grrrl until later in their career. In 1995 it was an important movement that had sadly been hijacked by corporations and turned into more of a buzzword for fashion than feminism (something they would talk about on #1 Must Have years later). Sleater-Kinney’s roots were in riot grrrl and it’s never more apparent than their first album which could be used as a definition for what the genre is about both musically and lyrically. It has everything from the shoestring production, the raging voices of women, lyrics that centered topics like abuse and oppression of women. It was definitely a riot grrrl record. 
The album begins with Don’t Think You Wanna which is a vague song where Corin speaks about Angels and regret which would not have been out of place on a Heavens to Betsy album. There are a lot of shorter songs on this album that feel more like the band figuring out how to make music together and this is one of them. It doesn’t feature the harmonic qualities of their best moments which makes it a little forgettable. However, they move right into their first bona fide classic song after Don’t Think You Wanna. The Day I Went Away is about leaving. Sleater-Kinney have always written songs about departure of relationships and family with an added twist of frustration due to lack of love (One More Hour on Dig Me Out). This song has all the introspective sadness that Sleater-Kinney is so great at. Carrie pleas in the bridge of the song “please remember me” as she leaves. From a structural standpoint it’s much more advanced than some of the more punk numbers on here that come and go in less than 2 minutes. Corin and Carrie doubletrack the vocals at the end of every line and in doing so the song feels massive. They would get more complicated in how they would mix their voices on the next album. The Day I Went Away was one of the first Sleater-Kinney songs I gravitated towards, because I wanted so desperately to leave a town that was too small for my life. I don’t necessarily think the song is about a relationship between a parent and child but that’s how I took to it, and I still come back to it when I feel lost and frustrated over the fact that my own parents are never going to understand why I can’t be the person they want me to be or live in a place that would reject me. The best songs are those that have personal attachment. This is one of those songs. 
A Real Man calls back Bikini Kill’s Sugar from their 1993 album Pussy Whipped in its lyrics. I fucking love riot grrrl songs that take aim at the idea that women are tools for male pleasure. I loved when Kathleen Hanna sang Oh baby you’re so good, You’re so fuckin’ big and hard, You’re such a big man, You’ve got such a big cock, Push it in deeper now, oh deeper, harder, I’m almost cumming, as a total lie. Corin has her own Kathleen Hanna moment here as well when she sings Don’t you wanna feel it inside, They Say that it feels so nice, All girls should have, a real man and then responds with I don’t want your kind of love. It’s a powerful statement, and while it may not be the great song it’s something that punctuates the feeling of all riot grrrl albums. 
If there’s one recurring theme on Sleater-Kinney’s debut album it’s a feeling of damage in the midst of strength. The guitars sound muddied and broken, only to come alive in choruses to fight back with sharp edges to their sound. In a way the vocals take on this same quality where Corin or Carrie talk-sing only to scream at the right moments. HerAgain is a song that epitomizes all these qualities. There’s a feeling of sadness that engulfs this song and many others here. I think it’s one reason why I loved this album from the start. Joy Division’s totemic sadness was never something I could relate to, but Sleater-Kinney was something that clicked. Their music fights back on sadness instead of wallowing in it. Corin’s voice is aggressive here and when I was younger I needed something to voice my frustrations and her voice was everything. 
The middle of the album has the band running back over themes of sex in How to Play Dead (Carrie’s take on “A Real Man”), Sold Out,  and Be Yr Mama. What’s especially great about these songs is the guitar work, and it is at its most playful and complicated on Be Yr Mama. The band would make this song a live staple and it’s easy to see high with its high energy and the escalating riffing from Carrie and Corin. 
Slow Song is my favourite song on Sleater-Kinney’s first album. Music is at its most important when it can reflect a personal feeling in a person. I think that is what makes it feel more personal than other art forms. Your favourite bands and songs become a part of you. I don’t know how many times I’ve listened to Slow Song. It was on every Sleater-Kinney playlist I ever made. There is one line in this song that on paper seems so simple, but the lyric has always struck me as huge (there’s a similar moment on Don’t Talk Like on The Hot Rock). That line is “feeling so down, I’m feeling so down” and it’s just a moment where Corin spoke for me. She does that often. I don’t even know why this song is important to me. I’ve never been able to figure out why this song latched onto my soul. It’s just a slow song. 
Laura MacFarlane’s tenure in Sleater-Kinney is rarely talked about, but she was their drummer on the first two albums. Most people associate Janet Weiss with Sleater-Kinney when they think of drummers but Laura came first and she was always solid. Lora’s Song is the only song where she sang lead vocal, and it’s kind of awesome. She has a very different voice than Corin or Carrie, but it’s powerful nonetheless. The chorus is especially strong when her voice seems to break free and soars. It would have been interesting to have seen the future of Sleater-Kinney as band with three rotating vocalists but it wasn’t meant to be, and I wouldn’t trade Janet for the world. 
There are three classic songs on their debut album and the last of these is The Last Song. It is also one of the very best songs in the history of riot grrrl. It’s a song about breaking free of a harmful relationship. It’s closure in the screaming, gnashing, powerful voice of Carrie Brownstein. She gets final say in how this ends and tells on the person that was hurting her. It’s the greatest personal as political moment on Sleater-Kinney’s first album. It deserves a place on any riot grrrl best of playlist as well as Sleater-Kinney.

Let’s Call It Love: Part 1: A Look at the Music of Sleater-Kinney

I’m going to talk about every single Sleater-Kinney song ever recorded. This won’t be an objective analysis. This is a labour of love for a band that feels only secondary to breathing and water in terms of importance for my existence. I cannot go a day without listening to Sleater-Kinney and while favourite bands tend to come and go in waves I think they are around for good. I’ve said that about other important artists in my life, but then that’s the thing that’s so beautiful about music in particular. It can fade as you mature and grow older, but in that moment those notes and those words mean fucking everything to you. Music is like an attachment of soul and the one art form that feels like it morphs you into the person you are and who you want to be. It can lift you up in moments of need and fix all your problems in 3 minutes or 15 if you’re into progressive rock, and it’s a kind of magic. It’s a rhythmic alchemy brought to the world out of nothing by these god’s who stand on stage and produce life through sound. It’s powerful and Sleater Kinney feels like a direct reflection of everything I am. I think favourite bands always kind of feel that way. They belong to you right? When I’m listening to them they feel like something vital to my life. There’s no way I can ever repay them for the support they’ve given me so I’m just going to keep on listening for the rest of my life.
First a little background information
Sleater-Kinney would hardly ever label themselves as a riot grrrl act during their heyday (something they would discuss more openly after they went on hiatus) but their genesis is very much steeped in that sound. After all Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein are the Foremothers of riot grrrl acts like Heavens to Betsy, Excuse 17 and Heartless Martin. In 1994 the first Sleater-Kinney music was released in the single You Ain’t It/Surf Song for Villa Villakula Records. They would also record two other songs for that label in Write Me Back Fucker and a cover of Boston’s More Than a Feeling. These first recordings reflect a band that already had their sound set in place. It was just rougher around the edges. 
You Ain’t It is lyrically about as forwardly-snotty-fuck you-riot grrrl as this band ever got, and it kind of rules. It’s the same kind of rock is not just for men attitude that many riot grrrl bands possessed from this same time period. What I truly love here is the wailing (I bet I’ll use this word a lot) braggadocio in Corin’s voice of not giving a fuck about boy bands. In 1994, and still to this day really, women are still seen as novelty acts in rock music. You’ll see the term “Girl rock band” get thrown around a lot as a buzzword as if it was another thing that needed to be gendered to the point where you had to separate women from men just because it was unfair to compare the two, and it’s bullshit. The riot grrrl movement in general was as much about feminism as it was about punk rock, but it certainly broke down barriers and told girls they could do anything in the world they wanted to and be better at it than men. In the sound of the song though it proved the band was already working out their formula. The guitars are already twisting and contorting around each other and Corin and Carrie are already using choruses to launch a harmonic attack in vocal and guitar. It’s awesome for reasons that don’t just align with my own punk rock feminism. It’s a hell of a start, and they’d get so much better. 
Surf Song is the b-side to You AIn’t It and it has the same roughness of all the Villa Villakula recordings, but unlike You Ain’t It’s brash riot grrrl aggression Surf Song feels absolutely light. What song wouldn’t feel light with lyrics like “Let’s go down to the beach today, Let’s go down to the water and play” ? Sleater-Kinney would rarely go for the type of sweetness that is found in this song, but it’s ultimately one of my favourites for that very reason. I searched all over the internet for this song so I could somehow have it with me at all times. I would complain to my boyfriend that I couldn’t ever find “The Sleater-Kinney Beach Song” and I’m sure I whined about it constantly, but oh the elation when I finally found it. I would download it (sorry you can’t find the Villakula recordings anywhere anyway), and have it forever. Oh! And the pen pal letter in the middle that Carrie writes to Corin where she complains about the band name and talks about new wave bands? It’s like friends in the back of a high school year book and my heart melts. The kind of friendship I’m lucky enough to have with one person. You know who you are.

The other two songs on the Villakula set are Write Me Back Fucker and MoreThan a Feeling. Write Me Back Fucker (great title btw) is maybe the least interesting song of these early recordings. The most notable thing about it is the title and the bridge, which just soars due to Corin’s voice. It’s almost kind of funny the previous song had an entire letter segment and this song is actually about a break up via letter. I don’t think they are in any way connected but I think that’s a neat fact. The first truly special moment in Sleater-Kinney’s career is their cover of More Than a Feeling . The song has that same DIY sound as the others on this label. It’s a sound I’ve grown to love in early riot grrrl recordings (especially Bikini Kill’s Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah), and followed Sleater-Kinney up through their first album the following year. There are multitudes of things I love about this song. The soft build up of the warm guitars in the verse, the harsh reimagining of the chorus with Carrie’s primal screams that she would make even better use of on Last Song the following year, and then there’s the outro where the guitars just sing and Corin wraps her voice lightly around the melody and it’s a thing of absolute beauty and cements this as the best version of this song. Sorry Boston, Sorry Nirvana.

The Optimism of Zero

Synthesizers buzz and hum as she puts on her makeup and zips up her PVC outfit. She runs her hand down her bangs and grabs her leather jacket. Her initials are on the back and she slides it on. She stands behind a curtain waiting to show herself to the world. This is her look and she’s proud. She has one final unsure look on her face and then pulls the curtain back to rapturous applause and she struts down the empty street evolving into dance. The song soars in praise with her. It’s her life and her self-expression and she is showing it to everyone. All she can do in response is dance while others look on. They look a little surprised by her outfit and her attitude but they see that she’s happy and eventually she runs into people who smile upon seeing her.
In these four minutes The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Zero directed by Barney Clay is deeply humanistic in a completely optimistic and joyful way. In this world, self-expression equals true joy, and the only responsible way to act on joy is through dance as Karen O suggests here when she seems so happy that she dances on top of cars. We live in a cinematic world where the most prized stories are about tragedy and the films that make the most money, and therefore control the Hollywood system, are about the end of the world or general destruction with no consequences. Even in television the narratives are controlled by serial killers, cops, and bad men. The musical, screwball comedy, and romantic comedy are nearly all dead so where did good feelings go? We live in a scary enough world that we don’t always need it reflected back at us on screen but our avenues for escapism are dour. Zero was made a few years ago, but I think its joyfulness is still relevant today. It’s self-empowerment of expression through choice is vastly important and in a time where things like selfies are constantly criticized as being vain and narcissistic Zero presents a different idea. It’s happiness within self so much so that you just have to dance, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being happy. That’s what we all want. Isn’t it?

You Want Them to Notice: Transgender Dysphoria Blues

You are my companion. Something I never wished I had to deal with. I wish you would leave me alone. I just want to exist in this world without the throbbing in the back of my head, the constant reminder that I’m never quite going to be the person I see myself as. I travel forward in my day to day life living and dying by what other people say and how they define my identity. When they get it right you ease away and disappear and for a moment I’m at peace. I’m happy. More often though you’re here with me going off like a siren every time anyone misgenders me. I crumble and I fall into defeat. I can’t find the strength within myself to correct them and you start to wash over me and fill me with depression and toxic feelings about my own self-worth. This is every single day of my life. This is my reality. I’m a transgender woman and my companion is dysphoria.

No one talks about dysphoria in mainstream media and if I had to guess the majority of the population isn’t even aware of gender dysphoria and the real problems transgender people go through in trying to deal with those feelings. It’s almost unbearable at times and to have a worldwide ignorance of something that effects my life greatly is nothing short of immensely depressing. When I first told my parents I was dysphoric constantly and needed to transition they didn’t know what the word meant. I had to explain to them trans 101 and after all that time and after I told them about all the pain I was going through they still rejected me. They told me I shouldn’t do this for religious reasons, and told me they wouldn’t support me under any circumstances because I’d be a freak, never a real woman, going to hell, etc. What I’m getting at here is that the everyday person doesn’t understand what kind of struggle transgender people go through on a day to day basis. I think a big part of this problem is a media silence on our issues and the representation we do get culminates in either A.) Being the punchline to your joke or B.)Being your murder victim. This kind of representation openly damages people like me because media can humanize or dehumanize people who are on the fringes of society, and I certainly am.

So here I am in 2014 sitting and crying watching David Letterman. It’s not because I’m laughing at some joke he told or because Drew Brees told a heartwarming story. The musical guest that night is Against Me! and their singer (Laura Jane Grace) is a transgender woman and she’s singing about an experience that actively aligns with my own. Millions of people are watching her standing up on the stage playing punk rock music and singing about dysphoria. For a moment it makes me think of a future when this is the norm. A world where transgender artists are given the same respect and audience that other groups of people are given. It’s a world where we are respected instead of feared and a world where I feel safe. I don’t live in that world, but Against Me!’s newest album Transgender Dysphoria Blues gives me the kind of hope that one day I might. The world is still so very far away from respecting us, but maybe this album is the first in a long line of moments where mainstream media gives us that respect. I cannot state just how important and empowering this album is to these ears. I’ve never heard a rock album say “In her dysphoria’s affection she still saw her mother’s son”, or “Your Tells are so Obvious, Shoulders too broad for a girl, keeps you reminded, it helps you to remember where you come from”. I hear each line echoing from the lips of Laura Jane Grace that I’m not alone in this world and that my feelings are valid and true. This isn’t an easy listen, because many of the fears that Laura had when she came out are living inside of the lyrics. She has that same doubts that I do about what she’ll look like, where her life goes now, and what this means for her family. This is not a blues album in the typical sense of playing cyclic chords on an old guitar, but it is in the sense of talking about pain. The pain of dysphoria, and it is powerful to hear something relating to my story on national television and in national print. I don’t know if Transgender Dysphoria Blues is going to be considered a classic album or if it’s even going to find it’s way on anyone’s best of the year list in December, but for this transgender woman without a voice it is just about the most important album I’ve ever heard. I cannot thank Laura Jane Grace and the rest of Against Me! enough for making me feel validated, real, and most of all female in a world that mostly denies my identity.