If you were waiting for the call to arms, here it is.
“The ground work for the GLBT community has been done. Its time to take over.”
Those who expected the revolution to be led by street activists may be surprised that the speaker of these words is a 30-something trans rocker; and they may doubt such a person could initiate insurrection ala Eva Peron. But those who’ve seen Hedwig and the AngryInch or heard the rock band Lisa Jackson & Girl Friday believe.
“I feel like trans people have to make the first step,” Jackson challenges. “You have to be the one that steps up to the plate…and you have to be positive about it for yourself because [transitioning] is a hard thing and it is a hard thing for people to accept. If, in any way, you’re unsure of yourself or negative…[that] could be used against you. But if you find strength within yourself…people like [that strength] and they embrace it.”
Pointing to rock’s rebellious nature, the singer-songwriter Jackson argues that rock anthems are the perfect avenue to cultural conquest.
“So bring on the revolution/one pop star at a time,” Jackson commands in her song “Night Light of Jesus.”
“Rock and roll is a very powerful tool,” Jackson explains. “[It’s] a way to really spread your message. If you can achieve any kind of pop stardom you can really use that to promote your community. I think in our community—in the trans community and the gay community—activism is such an important role, but [it’s also important] for activism to embrace people who are in pop culture.”
Although she believes in the rock and roll medium, Jackson admits that there are things about the genre that annoy her: like an over abundance of testosterone-fueled posturing and a tendency to dismiss trans musicians because of their gender identity.
“I’m always stuck with ‘trans rocker, Lisa Jackson.’ I do feel a need to embrace that—because I am trans. As the artist, there’s definitely the trans issue there—but as a musician you’re just like, ‘I play guitar.’ Why does the trans issue have to be attached to that?”
Friends long before she transitioned, Jackson’s band mates went through their own transformation, going from being the Steve Friday Band to Lisa Jackson and Girl Friday, and picking up a queer audience along the way.
Jackson and Girl Friday () are currently being filmed for a documentary that began Jan. 1 and will span the year of 2006. The novice filmmaker behind the project is high school senior Becca Goldstein who’s short film on Jackson won the student entrance to the NY School of Visual Arts.
“She’s fabulous,” Jackson raves about the young auteur. “There’s not like this whole history with her of her past filmmaking. This is really the first thing she’s done. [But] what she’s doing is just so good and so real; she’s really attracting a lot of attention.”
Although the focus of the documentary is on the band and Jackson’s life as a musician, Jackson acknowledges that the ‘trans issue’ will be addressed on screen.
“Since I am transsexual and am transitioning still, that has a huge part to play in the documentary. It also focuses a lot on the challenges I face as a trans person in the mainstream world of rock and roll.”
“I’m so lucky that I’m a performer,” Jackson muses. “Because that kind of puts me in a position where the majority of people, when they see me, I’m on stage and I’m put together and I’m doing my thing. As a performer, you are given this power. I think about trans girls in Montana or even Florida … and I think ‘Wow.’ People want to think that I am strong for doing my transition and all that but I’m in a very easy environment to make it happen: living in New York and being a performer. Those [transwomen in other places] are the ones, to me, that are just so strong. [They are] truly risking everything. That’s amazing. That’s powerful.”