Well, this is exciting. The same day that President Obama finally said he believes gays should be allowed to get married, the oft-neglected “T” in LGBT got a nice surprise in the form of the first openly transgender rock star. And it’s even someone good! Not, like, Chris Martin.
In the May issue of Rolling Stone, Tom Gabel of Against Me! (one of a handful of decent bands to play the Warped Tour) talks about her lifelong gender dysphoria and decision to physically transition to being a woman. (There’s nothing in The Elements Of Style about how to properly refer to an m-to-f transgender person before they’ve made the transition, so I’m going to go with my gut and use feminine pronouns for Gabel from now on.) “I’m going to have embarrassing moments,” she tells the magazine, “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.”
Gabel, who will soon go by the name Laura Jane Grace, says the hardest part was telling her wife, Heather, but she’s been “really supportive and cool about it.” Being primarily attracted to men, I honestly can’t say what I’d do if my boyfriend told me he wanted to become a woman (can you?), so good on Heather for being so rad. (I like to think I’d be grandfathered into the relationship by pre-existing emotions, but who knows?)
I think it bears mentioning that Gabel is hardly the first prominent musician to come out as transgender; Ponytail‘s Willy Siegel and Throbbing Gristle‘s Genesis P.Orridge are two who come to mind from recent history, and composer Wendy Carlos did it back in the ’70s. But no matter what you think of their relative value as artists, there’s no question that Gabel is by far the most mainstream-popular artist ever to go there. Against Me! were one of just a few rock bands we covered when I wrote for MTV’s pop music blog, if that gives you any perspective.
It’s not going to fix anything overnight, but the fact that transgender kids can now see themselves reflected in a small but growing number of pop culture figures can only be a positive development. Plus, no one can accuse Gabel of not rocking hard enough, so perhaps she’ll dispel some stereotypes about trans women, too.
(Via Rolling Stone)