The artist formerly known as Tom Gabel, the singer of Against Me!, is indescribably brave:
Against Me! singer Tom Gabel reveals plans to begin living as a woman in the new issue of Rolling Stone. Gabel, who has dealt privately with gender dysphoria for years, will soon begin the process of transition, by taking hormones and undergoing electrolysis treatments.
Gabel will eventually take the name Laura Jane Grace, and will remain married to her wife Heather. “For me, the most terrifying thing about this was how she would accept the news,” says Gabel. “But she’s been super-amazing and understanding.”
I see that it’s fashionable to rag on Against Me!. Fuck that. Not only are AM! one of the best and most vital live acts in punk, Laura is among the last remaining great punk lyricists. “Occult Enemies” was a b-side and it was probably the best punk song of 2011. The last time I went to Afghanistan, I was in something of a depressive episode, and I drowned it out by playing “Harsh Realms” from her solo record. A friend and I once had an idea to write a liberal’s response song to “Baby I’m an Anarchist,” from the perspective of the liberal friend who has to post bail for the guy who threw the trashcan through the Starbucks window.
Point being. No one who is not transgender can understand the bravery it takes to simply assert the right to be the person you are. Queer rights are constantly in jeopardy; witness North Carolina’s display of bigotry yesterday. Trans rights are so, so, so much more tenuous, something America is simply unprepared to even recognize as an issue. I’ve been lucky enough to have my life blessed by a trans friend in college — wouldn’t know how to jury-rig a broken toilet without her — and I learned earlier this week that a long-lost-and-now-rediscovered member of my first punk crew currently ID’s as trans.
There is one response to Laura Jane Grace’s emergence, especially if you come from punk rock, and that is unequivocal and vocal support. For her, certainly, but not just for her. For trans rights in general. This is beyond overdue.