Punk Rock Lead Singer Courageously Comes Out as Transgender

You may know the punk band Against Me! for their 2007 hit "Thrash Unreal," or for the fact that they've toured with the Foo Fighters. Or maybe, if you're like me, you've never heard of them before today, when the news hit that the band's lead singer Tom Gabel has come out as transgender.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Gabel, who is married, said that she will soon begin the process of physically becoming a woman by taking hormones and receiving electrolysis treatments. She also plans to take the name Laura Jane Grace.

I have to say, this is one of the bravest moves I can possibly imagine. Not only is Gabel the first major rock star to announce something like this, she did so knowing exactly how challenging it would be to go public with such a private struggle.

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Thirty-one-year-old Gabel suffers from gender dysphoria, a recognized medical condition involving a person's self-perception of their gender. After dealing with the condition for many years, Gabel finally decided to speak out about her plans to physically become a woman, and told only a few family members and friends about the upcoming transition before the Rolling Stone interview.

(By the way, it's my understanding that Gabel now self-identifies as a woman, which is why I'm using the "she" pronoun.)

Gabel plans to undergo sexual reassignment surgery and take the name Laura Jane Grace, and she will remain married to her wife Heather. Before going public, Gabel first broke the news to Heather, saying,

For me, the most terrifying thing about this was how she would accept the news. But she's been super-amazing and understanding.

Gabel also acknowledged the difficult nature of coming out, saying,

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.

I can't even pretend to know the strength it must have taken to make this announcement. As an established musician in an industry that's often roiling with machismo, it was an hugely courageous move, and one that will surely help all sorts of young transgender people who feel isolated and without someone to relate to.

I hope Tom will be much happier and true to herself as Laura. As fans have pointed out, she has sung about her desire in the past, particularly in the band's song "The Ocean":

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



What do you think of Gabel's announcement?



Image via Flickr/jerkalertproductions

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