NPR's Sunday Morning: Celebrating a 'Transgendered Punk' With a Seriously Disturbed Album

Rachel Martin, anchor of NPR’s “Weekend Edition Sunday” rocked her Sunday morning six weeks ago by hailing the religion-bashing punks of Bad Religion deconstructing religious Christmas carols like a "Monty Python skit."  On this Sunday, Martin hailed “Laura Jane Grace, transgendered punk,” the lead singer of the band Against Me!

NPR wasn’t really as “progressive” as they could have been on this story, since their in-house transcript calls half the lyrics they played as “(unintelligible)” and then cut out the God part of the song “True Trans Soul Rebel,” and did not mention the song’s title. They also neglected to discuss the new album tracks "F--kmylife666" and "Osama Bin Laden As The Crucified Christ." (Congratulations, taxpayers.) This was the "Trans Soul Rebel" presentation: 

You should have been a mother
You should have been a wife
You should have been gone from here years ago
You should be living a different life

Who's gonna take you home tonight?
Who's gonna take you home?
Does God bless your transsexual heart?
True trans soul rebel

The bolded part didn't air on NPR. This is how Martin began this almost seven-minute story, as the official NPR transcript has it:


MARTIN: The new album from punk band Against Me! is titled "Transgender Dysphoria Blues" -- and that is not just a metaphor. It's the first album the band has released since lead singer Laura Jane Grace went public with her transition from man to woman. Now, instead of hinting at feelings of gender dysphoria in her lyrics, they're all right there, front and center:

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG) AGAINST ME!: (Singing) (unintelligible) Who's gonna take you home tonight? Who's gonna take you home?

MARTIN: The band, Against Me!, has been around for more than 15 years, and built significant success [?] on the back of those growling, assertive vocals, formerly attributed to Tom Gabel, now Laura Jane Grace. She and band mate James Bowman join me now from ETV Radio, our member station in Columbia, South Carolina. Laura and James, welcome to the program.

LAURA JANE GRACE: Thank you so much for having us.

JAMES BOWMAN: Yes, thank you.

MARTIN: Laura, I'd like to start with you. This has been a long time coming. What does it mean for you to be able to do your first album as a woman?

GRACE: It's freeing. It's liberating....

As usual, the liberal media that insists it loves science will let a man with all his male parts be described as performing "as a woman" if that's what he wants to call himself. Martin and NPR passed “the test” that Katie Couric failed. She didn’t ask “Laura Jane” whether "she" had any surgery or about “her” male private parts. There was a question about his obviously male singing voice -- which didn't make the radio story. Check out this live performance of "Transgender Euphoria Blues" and imagine this is a "woman" performing:


 

Martin was most interested in how sensitive the audiences have been across America:

MARTIN: And what has been the reaction from your fans, James? How's the tour going so far?

BOWMAN: Yeah, everything's been great. Everyone's really supportive and crowd interaction and reaction has been really supportive and really overwhelming. It's been really great.

MARTIN: Were you surprised by that at all, Laura? Were you kind of girding yourself for a different response?

GRACE: I really didn't know what to expect, but the support I've received from people has been definitely overwhelming and humbling.

MARTIN: And these feelings that you were in the wrong body, this started a long time ago when you were very young, right?

GRACE: I vividly remember -- I was probably about 4 years old and lived in Texas at the time -- and there was a Madonna concert being broadcast on TV. And I just remember feeling self-recognition, you know, of, like, that's me and that's what I that's what I want to do.

And, at the same time, realizing that there was a misalignment between, like, recognizing yourself in someone and realizing, like, but I'm a little boy. And there were just many moments like that, you know, throughout growing up. But immediately, when you have those feelings, you feel shame.

MARTIN: So, this goes on for years, you kind of pushing down these feelings and setting them aside. Ultimately, you met the woman who would become your wife, Heather, and you had a daughter. How has your transition affected your family life?

GRACE: Well, it's something that's in transition, too. It's scary. You know, I'm not going to lie, like, it's really frightening feeling like that there's so much uncertainty, and that you've made a decision, even though it wasn't really a decision, because it was something that was based on, like, either I'm going to kill myself or I need to address this. And I know that it's something that is going to potentially, like, destroy everything in my life in a lot of ways, and, like, that is going to cause a lot of uncertainty for things that I don't want to change.

ME!: (Singing) (unintelligible) the grace of your silhouette, the way that your (unintelligible) slender neck...

Once again, NPR is failing to explain the title of the song they're sampling. This song is titled "Fuckmylife666," which seems to be about a failed marriage. NPR.org carries more of the interview that did not air from coast to coast. Let's pick up where the radio show left off, and the marriage that crumbled at "transition" time:

MARTIN: You revealed your gender dysphoria in a 2012 Rolling Stone interview and started taking hormone therapy, I understand, a few months after that. Initially, you and your wife had decided to stay together. Is that something that is still in transition?

GRACE: Yeah. I mean, I'll be honest, I live alone right now.

MARTIN: And your daughter? I understand there's a song on this album about her.

GRACE: There is — "Two Coffins" is a song I wrote for my daughter.

MARTIN: How old is she?

GRACE: She's 4 years old.

MARTIN: How's your relationship with her?

GRACE: She's fantastic, you know? She's the light of my life.

Light of his/"her" life? Let's ponder the lyrics, then, and wonder why NPR didn't explore them:

Two coffins for sleep,
One for you, one for me
We'll get there eventually
In the dark of our graves our bodies decay
I wish you'd never change

How lucky I ever was to see,
The way that you smile at me,
Your little moon face shining bright at me
One day soon there'll be nothing left of you and me

Two coffins for sleep...

The NPR page for this story includes a YouTube video of the song, but Martin never asked if there's something in the lyrics that underlines this father seems to be having a hard time with being separated from his child. Did NPR make any attempt to interview the mother? Is this troubled life really something that should be celebrated and never questioned?

But that's what politically supporting the "T" in "LGBT" means: don't ask any questions that aren't perceived as positive. This is a sacred Sunday morning, as NPR sees it -- celebrating a dogma against "defamation."

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis