There's a lot of transgender stories right now, but this is a portrait of one of my favourites. Tom Gabel, lead singer of American punk band Against Me!, has revealed to Rolling Stone that she is transgender. Much respect to Gabel for having the strength of heart and mind to speak openly about it.
Gabel told the magazine that she has dealt with gender dysphoria (identifying as a sex different than one's biological sex) since she was a child and will begin to take hormone and electrolysis treatments to begin the transition. She'll be taking the name Laura Jane Grace and will remain married to her wife Heather, with whom she has a 2-year-old daughter, Evelyn.
"For me, the most terrifying thing about this is how she would accept the news," says Gabel of wife Heather. "But she's been super-amazing and understanding."
Rolling Stone says that "this is the first time that a major rock star has come out as transgender," (Genesis P-Orridge born Neil Andrew Megson, front woman of the industrial band Throbbing Gristle, is also transgender, and Lucas Silveira, lead singer of The Cliks, is a Canadian transgender man. Michelle Josef, a Canadian drummer who has appeared on albums by Prairie Oyster and Wild Strawberries, has identified as a transgender woman since 1997, and is an activist on transgender issues).
"I'm going to have embarrassing moments and that won't be fun. But that's part of what talking to you is about - is hoping people will understand and hoping they'll be fairly kind."
On the band's 2007 major label debut 'New Wave,' Gabel's lyrics on 'The Ocean' spoke of his gender dysphoria:
"And if I could have chosen, I would have been born a woman/My mother once told me she would have named me Laura/I'd grow up to be strong and beautiful like her/One day, I'd find an honest man to make my husband"
A full interview with Gabel will be featured in Rolling Stone's May 11th issue. Against Me! began recording their latest album 'Transgender Dysphoria Blues' earlier this year, saying that it is a concept album about a transgender prostitute. Below, Gabel performs the title track earlier this year at the House of Rock in Texas: