Rolling Stone/Cass Bird
Tom Gabel, lead singer of the punk band Against Me!, has publicly announced plans to live as a woman and to take on the name Laura Jane Grace.
Gabel's cbig news hit newsstands today in Rolling Stone magazine, where she publicly shares her very private battle with gender dysphoria, an issue that she says she has dealt with for years. In opening up, Gabel says she will soon be transitioning into becoming a woman by taking hormones and by undergoing electrolysis treatments.
Public allusions to Gabel's battles with gender identity emerged in Against Me!'s song The Ocean, released in 2007, where Gabel gives hint to the source of her name change.
"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."
LGBT groups, Twitter fans, and even fellow musicians praised Gabel with an onslaught of support for her courage to step forward. Though Gabel said very few people knew of her decision prior to the article's publication, Rolling Stone contributing editor Josh Eells speculated on what prompted the very public coming out.
I'm not sure why she wanted to do it in exactly this way, but I think she wanted to not have a thousand conversations with people. This was a way to push herself a little. She said that so many times she'd make a goal to tell her wife Heather or the band, and she'd make excuses and put it off. This was setting up a deadline for herself.
Gabel, 31, told Rolling Stone that she plans to remain with her wife Heather as they continue to raise their 2-year-old daughter. "For me, the most terrifying thing about this was how she would accept the news," Gabel says of her wife. "But she's been super-amazing and understanding."
As Florida residents, Gabel and her wife life in a state where voters overwhelmingly voted in favor of defining marriage as being between a man an a woman back in 2008. But according to MTV, the couple's marriage rights are not on the line:
Though Florida is not one of the six states in the nation that recognize marriages between same-sex partners, Gabel's declaration won't change her marital status either way, according to Lisa Mottet, Director of the Transgender Civil Rights Project at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
"Under established law, marriages are evaluated for their validity at the time of marriage, i.e., the date of the wedding/when the marriage license was signed," she said. "Only divorces, death, and annulments end marriages — gender transition does not end a marriage, nor convert it to a same-sex marriage. If two people were considered different sex at the time of their wedding, they will continue to be considered married until death, divorce, or annulment."
Postscript: Melissa explored transgender rights and issues on our April 15 show when author Kate Bornstein, Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, and Mel Wymore, a Democratic candidate for New York City Council to discuss discrimination against the LGBT community.