PUNK-ROCK PARENT Greer with her son, Saoirse. She says she aims to make queer families more visible.
Last month, when Tommy Gabel of Against Me! announced via Rolling Stone that she's transgender (and will now go by Laura Jane Grace), I immediately wondered what Evan Greer might be thinking.
Not only does Greer have the perspective of a transwoman punk singer, she also has a song specifically about Against Me! on her first record, Never Surrender.
"You're selling hope to angry kids who think that you're the only one who sings about what makes them sad . . . but that's just because your label pays for multi-colored tour posters," sings Greer in "Fame." "I'm so tired of these anarchist celebrities/selling ten-dollar shrink-wrapped CDs/full of paper made from old-growth trees."
Greer, 27, has been using music as a tool for engaging with radical social movements for more than 10 years. With a posi-pop vocal inflection and radical anarcho-punk urgency, she has traveled internationally, selling thousands of copies of self-burned CD-Rs full of folk-punk songs fighting sexism, racism, homophobia, climate change, apathy, corporate greed, and more.
>> LISTEN: Evan Greer's mixtape of radical, queer, and pro-queer artists <<
Despite Greer's criticisms of Against Me!, she feels that Laura Jane Grace might inspire a future generation of trans people to pursue music. "My hope is that this will not cause people to say, 'Oh look, there's a trans rock star,' but rather that it will encourage people to come out themselves, or encourage a generation of young trans people to be thinking, 'I can be a musician' or 'I can be a performer.' "
FRIENDS NOT FANS
As a DIY advocate, Greer adamantly dismisses the notion that musicians should be idolized or put on pedestals. It's a sentiment sewn throughout the title track of her debut LP, where she sings, "We need friends, not fans/We need guitars, not rock stars/We need more than just loud, drunk, white, straight male punk bands."
Instead, she values the grassroots connections of her global music community.
"When I judge whether a tour was successful, it's not just counting the dollars at the end, or counting how many people came out to the shows," says Greer. "It's the connections that were made, how effective was this at supporting movements for justice, how effective was this at spreading this message and reaching out to people who don't always get access to this type of music."
Those connections aren't only forged between Greer and her fans while touring. Greer receives e-mails daily from kids around the country who feel enlightened by her music.
Most recently, the e-mails have come from kids who are trying to come out as trans to their parents. For them, Greer is a mentor.
"I get hundreds of e-mails from young queer kids saying, 'Oh, your music saved my life' or asking, 'I want to come out to my mom as trans but I don't know how to do it, how did you do it?' And that's what keeps me going."