**Disclaimer** I am a straight woman who has never once questioned her sexual orientation or her gender. I am not entirely educated on the subject, nor do I know anyone who is transgender. This is probably not even a topic I should be sticking my nose in on, but I am in complete awe of the balls (no pun intended) it must take not only to come out as transgender, but to do so in such a public, out-in-the-open manner.
A couple of nights ago, a friend of mine tweeted me this article, asking if I had seen it. Tom Gabel, the frontman of one of my favorite punk bands, Against Me!, had come out as transgender and would be living as Laura Jane Grace from here on out. After having a “HOLY SHIT, NO WAY,” moment, I was simply impressed and in awe of what it must have taken to invite Rolling Stone into her home, and to share this with them, knowing it would be national news once the magazine hit print. My biggest question, in all honesty and selfish as it may be, was “what does this mean for the band?” – because honestly, they’re badass. Their song “Thrash Unreal” got me through some pretty hard times, when I thought diving to the bottom of a bottle was the best solution for my problems. Tom’s (I use Tom and he in the next few sentences because I’m speaking in past-tense, and the music I’m referring to was performed as Tom. voice is gritty to the core, a perfect fit for the type of music Against Me! plays. Tom’s solo album, Heart Burns, is an even better example. For the sake of exposing yourself to kick ass music, see the following:
Anyway… in the full Rolling Stone article (highly recommended – you need to be a subscriber to Rolling Stone to get it in full online, otherwise I’d link it), Laura answers that question. She says, “Imagine me, six foot two, in heels, fucking screaming in someone’s face.” HELL FUCKING YES, is what I have to say to that.
I think the most enlightening and awesome part of the whole article, is the immense support and apparent lack of trepidation from Heather Gabel, Laura’s wife. She has decided, in the face of such a major change, to stand by her spouse. How many women do you know that would do that? Would you be able to stay with your spouse or significant other if they one day told you that they were born in the body of the wrong sex? As much as I would love to say I absolutely would, I’m not sure I can say so without actually being put in the position to make said decision. Heather’s got a long road ahead of her, just as Laura does, and I am so impressed with the things she said in the RS article.
As expected/hoped… it seems as though the punk community is supporting Laura Jane Grace with open arms. So many of the bands/artists that I follow (Cory Branan, NoFx, Lawrence Arms, The Gaslight Anthem, Dave Hause, and many others) all either directly or not so directly tweeted and/or blogged their support for a fellow punk rocker whom many of them have toured with. In reading more and more articles, it seems as though while the majority of the feedback is positive, there are some assholes who just have nothing nice to say. I won’t dignify their ignorance and intolerance (and frankly, their lack of humanity) toward Laura by putting it here in print, but I can say, it is some of the most ugly hatespeech I’ve ever had the displeasure of reading. Those people are the reason I’m writing this.
Some of these folks claim to be “deeply rooted” in the punk scene – “fans” of Against Me! who have been there since day one – and they have not only made awful comments about Laura’s decision, but in some comments I’ve seen, they say Laura goes against everything that IS punk. Excuse me… to those people, all I have to say is FUCK YOU. I know people who consider themselves punk that wear suits to work every day. Who have spent their youth in church basements and who have lived, breathed, eaten, and slept punk rock. Who, if you were to run into them on the street, you’d have no idea they’re covered in ink and rage out in their car to the likes of Against Me! and The Ramones. It’s not the clothes you wear, it’s not the job you have, it’s not anything but WHO YOU ARE and WHAT YOU STAND FOR. At it’s core, isn’t punk about being whoever the fuck you want to be? What it boils down to, at least in my humble opinion, is simply being yourself and not giving a shit what anyone has to say about it. That’s the most simplified explanation I can give.
Based on that philosophy, Laura Jane Grace is more punk rock than anyone in recent memory. Good for her.