Laura Grace: Mother of the New England Riot Boi! Revolution

Blake C. PatriaStarred Page By Blake C. Patria, 1st Mar 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/tuyhe14v/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Sexuality & Gender

A story about how one of my favorite Rebel Girls united me with some friends, and expanded a revolution.

The Needle Touches Down

I was eighteen. I had just graduated from high school, and my fresh-cut days had just started with a full time job, The Bruisers, The Anti-Heros, The Slackers, The Hepcats, The Dropkick Murphys, Darkbuster, and so on. It was a pretty wild summer, probably the first actual wild summer I'd known, and one day, a friend of mine put down a needle on a vinyl record that would have an impact on my songwriting for years to come. It was an EP from a band called Against Me!, and I instantly fell in love with the vocalist's passion coupled with the musical simplicity. It was loud, abrasive punk rock that would sound good on an acoustic guitar which was awesome because all I had was an acoustic, and starting a band in the area was difficult.

Tom Gable

Throughout the years, Against Me! made more albums. Some were received well by fans while other fans feared change. I found later that change was an important aspect of this band.

The singer was Tom Gable. He was one of my teachers in expressing passion in a song. He seemed to sing about things like anarchy, revolution, and punk rock itself, but he personalized it in his lyrics, illuminating the humanity and vulnerability behind revolutionary musicians. Through song, I met his friends, his family, his lovers, and was hungry and broke on tour with him. Many of his songs became anthems of my friends and I.

The Valley Street Riot Boi!s

After many years of my own personal struggles, I found myself walking up a sidewalk bordering Valley Street Cemetery in Manchester, New Hampshire late at night. A car on its way down the street came to a stop. That is sometimes a cause for caution in that city so I was on my guard, but the car continued on after about a minute. Near the cemetery gate, I saw what looked like a teenage boy standing near the entrance. A little dog was running around in the street. That was the reason why the car had stopped. So the boy and I flanked the dog in a tactical effort to catch him, and return him to his owner which went pretty well. The owner didn't seem to care when we returned him. She was either on drugs, not used to people in that neighborhood doing nice things, or both, so the boy and I said goodbye to her, and left.

We got to talking. The boy had a girl's name. He was nineteen years old, and lived with his girlfriend a couple blocks away. At this point I realized the boy was a girl, but that didn't concern me. What concerned me was that she was a drummer, and I was looking to start a band. What really excited me was that she was a huge Against Me! fan. She was going to fit right in with my other friends and band mates.

We ended up hanging out the next day at the Smyth Mausoleum at the cemetery, playing our guitars, and singing our songs. We enjoyed each other's songs a lot. We got together a few times, and jammed in the basement of her girlfriend's apartment building.

One day, she told me that Tom Gable, the singer of Against Me! had just come out as Laura Grace. I still didn't know much about things like that. I'd only seen that sort of stuff on Jerry Springer, but there were also movies like Boys Don't Cry and Transamerica that handled that subject with a little more sympathy. I was no stranger to gender bending phenomena. I'd once dated a drag queen (a "transvestite" is different from a transgender), and hung out at several of the city's gay bars. I just never gave the transgender struggle much thought. I was was not bothered that the singer of Against Me! was actually a woman. Good for her!

The Dysphoria Emporium

I moved out of the city, and several months went by. It had been a long time since I'd talked to the androgynous girl from the cemetery, but I started to think more about her so I called her. It turned out I was right the first time. She was actually a he, and had a new name.

We talked for a while. I was thinking of moving, and so was he. Eventually, he found a place, and his other transgender friend was moving in too.

When I moved in, I learned a lot about gender dysphoria and the transgender struggle. My friends were often subjected to being "misgendered" ("misgendering" is when somebody uses a pronoun or noun in an improper addressing of somebody's gender. Ex: "Don't be such a girl, sissy-boy!" or "Why does she dress like a man? Is she some kind of lesbian?") in public, or even called by their birth names by their family members. Their parents didn't seem to understand, and thought it was a phase, but they were going to gender therapists so that they could go through their transition. When their gender therapists gave the OK, they were able to take testosterone (or T-shots). I'd met a few other transgender people who were on hormones. The T-shots made a trans-male's voice deepen, his face change shape, and grow facial hair. I met a trans-female who had been taking hormones, and it made her face seem more feminine. Her voice got higher, and she grew breasts. I am what they call a "cis-male" or "cisgender". I am a male who was born as a male. Though I suffer from dysphoria, it is not gender dysphoria, but a symptom of bipolar affective disorder.

The Queen City Riot Boi!s

I lived with three trans-males, and one other cis-male. The trans-males often had to wear "binders" out in public. A binder is an undergarment designed to reduce the visible presence of breasts. Though they can be physically uncomfortable, they provide peace of mind for the guy that has to wear them. When he completes his gender therapy, he can change his name legally and get his T-shots. If he has enough money, he can get "top-surgery". Top surgery is when the breasts are surgically removed. A trans-female can get bottom surgery, reconstructing her penis into a vagina, but bottom surgery is often very risky for a trans-male. Either way, it's also very expensive.

Transgender Therapy

Hormone therapy can be a very difficult time for people. A trans-male might get aggressive and hungry while a trans-female might get very emotional. It makes perfect sense to me. I'm sure I would have a lot of feelings if my body was changing like that. It's like going through puberty again. This is part of the reason why a gender therapist is important; they have to make sure the transition will be safe. There is a lot of red tape a transgender person needs to go through in America. You can't just decide you are going to switch your gender one day. It is a very misunderstood process.

Take a Stand!

Like many other members of the LGBT community (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans), transgenders still face a lot of discrimination and abuse. It can be anything from a simple misgendering (which seems like nothing to a person unfamiliar with the struggle, but can be very hurtful to the misgendered person) to straight up harassment and assault. Many people are transphobic and/or see the transgender struggle as invalid, and/or insist that it's a choice, but there are public figures like Laura Grace and Buck Angel standing up, spreading awareness, and setting an example of courage and perseverance.

I Am . . .

I'm not a trans-male, I'm a cis-male, but I do identify with the LGBT community. I'm not gay, but I am bisexual. I didn't choose to be this way, it's the way I've been as long as I can remember. Yeah, I'm better at hiding it, but why should I? The only reason to hide it is fear; fear of judgement by your friends, your family, and society. That's called oppression. I am a Riot Boi!. I am a Soul Rebel soldier fighting for freedom against oppression as my own leader inspired by people like Laura Grace.

Tags

Against Me, Buck Angel, Gender, Gender Dysphoria, Laura Grace, Lgbt, Oi, Punk Rock, Revolution, Riot Boi, Tom Gable, Transgender

Meet the author

author avatar Blake C. Patria
My name is Blake C. Patria. I am a musician, a writer, a philanthropist, a philosopher, etc. I enjoy science and its fictions. I also enjoy philosophy and Punk Rock. My work will tell more :)

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Comments

author avatar cnwriter..carolina
1st Mar 2014 (#)

most interesting this..just as is serendipity...

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
4th Mar 2014 (#)

Nice read!

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author avatar Andres Fragoso Jr
24th Mar 2014 (#)

I am intrigued by your article. I myself not sure what a Cis-Male is and would love to find out more.
I know very little about discrimination towards the trans community. I do know its there and I'm currently talking to trans about their struggles. I am on a quest to help writers write their gay characters with respect.

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author avatar Blake C. Patria
24th Mar 2014 (#)

Thanks! It's funny now that I think of it. On the linguistic scope of it, a cis-male is just a male who was born with male anatomy, but philosophically, you raise an interesting quandry: what is a cis-male really?

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