Laura Jane Grace: Every trans girl has a unique story. One of my first vivid memories of like associating with a female was seeing Madonna and just being like, "That's me." I guess I kind of made the decision to transition starting like two or three years ago, but it was something that really took a lot of building up to to put into motion. There are so many moments in life where you feel guilt, and you feel shame and all that, but you get to the point where you realize things aren't going to change. So I just thought that the best thing to do was apparent, also as an artist, is to try and embrace the truth that you feel inside of yourself.
After you come out and after you start talking about it, you kind of feel stupid for how long you haven't dealt with the issue because people have been so overwhelmingly supportive. The amount of trans girls or trans guys that come out to our shows now and always stick around to like say hi afterwards, it's encouraging. I'm overwhelmed by the amount of support my wife gave me. It's awesome.
Joan Smalls: Hi!
Laura Jane Grace: Hello. Hi. How's it going? Nice to meet you.
Joan Smalls: Nice to meet you.
Laura Jane Grace: So this is my closet.
Joan Smalls: Oh.
Laura Jane Grace: My shared closet with my wife. So this is more my section of it, and this is my wife's section of it. But at the same time, she'll oftentimes encroach on my side, and I sometimes will go in her side and swipe stuff. I'm probably one of the luckiest transsexuals in the world in that...
Joan Smalls: Don't tell me you have a small foot.
Laura Jane Grace: I have the same size shoe as my wife, so I can steal any of her shoes.
Heather Gabel: Watching Laura's style transform during this transition has been really awesome. Being able to express yourself through what you're wearing is liberating and really a part of being like a creative person. It's like being like a teenager.
Laura Jane Grace: If she wants to dance and drink all night, well, there's no one that can stop her.
I was always into music. I started playing guitar when I was eight years old, and I knew from like a really young age that I wanted to play in bands. So that was kind of always my focus.
Joan Smalls: How has your style evolved from then to now?
Laura Jane Grace: Well, I got into punk rock. And you know, my fashion when I was younger was very much like you wear the same pair of jeans every single day, and you want them to look dirty. It was very much about like charging out your hair and piercings and stuff like that.
Joan Smalls: A lot of hairspray, gel.
Laura Jane Grace: Right, which was hell in Florida because it's, a, humid, and b, it rains everyday at two or three o'clock.
Joan Smalls: So it drops down.
Laura Jane Grace: Right. So school gets out and you're coming out of school with like a mohawk or liberty spikes, and you're just like, "Oh, my God. It's raining."
Let's start with the beginning. I've had this vest since I was probably 19 years old. And if you can see like the texture of it, that's real dirt.
Joan Smalls: And you know that now, they actually make jeans to look like this.
Laura Jane Grace: I know. It's messed up. And then they charge you more for it. But then this shirt I've had since I was probably 13 years old. This is my old Dead Kennedys shirt.
Joan Smalls: Wow.
Laura Jane Grace: It's held up. So when I was a young punk kid and I was dumpster diving and wearing this and this, so I think it's important for you to know that I was still going home at night and washing my face with Clinique. So there's no reason why you can't be punk and have good skin.
When you're younger and you're trans, it's not like you have a lot of options or anything like that. Because usually, you're so nervous when you go into a store, and it's about what's the first thing you see when no one's looking that you can grab and put in your cart or put in your bag and get away with. I mean I'll be honest. I used to steal people's clothes.
This dress here is just a Mossimo dress from Target, but this is the dress I wore the first time I went out in public dressed female to meet my psychotherapist. But so Mossimo in particular, it's at Target. And it's one of those, as I was talking about, like right there on the rack when you first walk in, quick swipe.
Joan Smalls: And that was the first one. You grabbed it.
Laura Jane Grace: Easy. But I like their stuff too.
Like a lot of the things I used to wear when I was dressing and identified as male, I still wear the same brands just in the female versions. To me, Fred Perry stuff will always be classic. And this is like one of their new things. It's the Amy Winehouse collection.
Joan Smalls: Oh, yes.
Laura Jane Grace: But I love Fred Perry stuff. This is probably my favorite dress that I have right now. This is a Ksubi dress.
Joan Smalls: Oh, wow. A little risque, huh?
Laura Jane Grace: You pay more for the whole -- Ksubi is an Australian designer, and I really like their stuff. This would be like something I would be comfortable wearing on stage.
Joan Smalls: Performing now on stage, how has your wardrobe changed?
Laura Jane Grace: Bottom line for stage stuff, it still has to be really comfortable and has to be really functional because I'm swinging around a guitar. And also, our stage shows can be pretty chaotic, lots of people getting up. So you need to be wearing something you're not too concerned about getting trashed. So it's just usually tank tops and jeans and whatever shoes.
Joan Smalls: And did you start wearing heels on stage?
Laura Jane Grace: Yeah. But heels are great for performing because it immediately like corrects your posture for singing. So you have the power stance down really easily with heels.
The shoes I've been wearing most like when playing live lately is these Steve Maddens. They got a little heel on the back there. But these are great, because they're really sturdy and then they give you the lift and they give you the posture for singing. These are my birthday present boots.
Joan Smalls: Wow, Margiela.
Laura Jane Grace: I love these boots.
Joan Smalls: Amazing.
Laura Jane Grace: But I wore these on stage on Fun Fun Fun Fest, which we just played. But these would be an example of a pair of shoes that aren't necessarily comfortable to play in but look fantastic.
Joan Smalls: They look comfortable enough.
Laura Jane Grace: Yeah, a little scrunchy on the toe. And they definitely like rub the pinkies raw. I think my feet were bleeding after I got off stage with these, but I looked fantastic.
Joan Smalls: Yeah.
Laura Jane Grace: That's all that matters.
Joan Smalls: If the shoe's too small, you put either baking powder on the shoe and it slips right in or you put lotion on the back of your heel.
Laura Jane Grace: That's smart.
Joan Smalls: Do you have a goal on where your style evolution will lead?
Laura Jane Grace: For a lot of transsexuals, it's really important to pass in public. And while I understand that, I don't mind being identified as a transsexual when I go out in public. I'm very happy with myself, and I'm very comfortable with myself. And it's really just about feeling comfortable with what you wear when you go out. Talking about goals and stuff like that, sometimes I'll buy like an item of clothing. Like I'll get this piece of clothing as a goal, like to eventually look good in it or feel comfortable and fit in it. But these are my current goal. I want to feel comfortable wearing those on stage.
Joan Smalls: And beauty regimen, where did you learn it from?
Laura Jane Grace: I mean I've been doing my own makeup since I was like 10 years old, just getting into my mother's makeup.
When it comes to skin care, like I use the Clinique stuff, Clarifying Lotion number two and the moisturizer. And then I use like everyday, like for the sunscreen, I love the Stella McCartney.
Joan Smalls: Oh.
Laura Jane Grace: That's my favorite fragrance right now, but sometimes I'll just spray like rosewater or something like that. But that's my favorite. This is an epilator.
Joan Smalls: Oh, that's the one that like pulls the hair.
Laura Jane Grace: Yeah. It pulls the hair out. I've been tattooed all over my body, and nothing is more painful than this.
A lot of the things I do, a lot of the things I've picked up have really been from other trans women on the Internet. Like in particular, there have been women that I've met since coming out, and they all have unique beauty tips and all unique things they recommend. And the only reason that I'm putting myself out here and talking about anything is because there's been so many trans girls on YouTube or that I've read about that put themselves out there and made their knowledge available that I feel like I have to return the favor. When I was 14 years old, if I was watching "House of Style," watching a transsexual being interviewed and talking about that, then it would have completely changed my life. And I would have been completely like -- I would have felt saved.There may be small errors in this transcript.