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Posted: 9:52 a.m. Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Against Me! leader's first year as a woman 

Against Me!Fake Problems and W..
Against Me!Fake Problems and W..

By Joel

Last spring, Against Me! frontman Tom Gabel came out as trans after a life-long struggle with gender dysphoria and announced her transition to life as a woman, Laura Jane Grace. Grace still leads Against Me!, though there's been some drama in the ensuing months. The band lost their third drummer in four years as Jay Weinberg exited in 2012, forcing the band to bow out of a spring tour with Bad Religion for lack of a permanent replacement. Against Me! is still working on a new record, tentatively-titled Transgender Dysphoria Blues.

To mark her first year as a woman, Grace penned her story for Cosmopolitan. The full article begins here with an intro and some background on Grace's life written by a staff writer, but Grace herself takes it from there. Below are some excerpts from the piece.

Making My Confession

"Can we talk?" I asked my wife, Heather, on February 6, 2012, three days before her birthday. Maybe this wasn't the best timing, but I couldn't wait any longer. The pressure that had built up inside me for 31 years was about to burst. We lay down on our bed, Evelyn, our 3-year-old, napping in the other room, and looking into my wife's beautiful brown eyes, I made my confession: "I'm a transsexual." I buried my head into her chest and explained that this was something I'd been struggling with all my life. I wasn't sure how Heather would take it. She said something like "That's all you were going to tell me?" She later told me she thought I was going to say I had cheated on her or wanted a divorce—which she said would have been worse for her. She told me at that moment—and kept telling me—that she wasn't going anywhere. The day after I told Heather, I shared the news with my band—they were stunned but really supportive. I hadn't intended to tell them. Sitting in our studio, the words just came out of my mouth. Momentum carried me.

Starting Hormones

Holding those three little pills in my hand for the first time on May 11, 2012, was a turning point. I'd spent many sleepless nights leading up to that moment, thinking over exactly what I had decided to do. What if I wanted to stop? Was there a point of no return? At first, it was hard to tell whether the differences I felt were from the actual hormones or from the excitement about my change…but slowly, I started to feel more like myself, emotionally and physically. The hormones softened my skin, made my hair grow faster, and redistributed some of my body fat—my arms slimmed down and weight moved from my chest to my hips. And yes, I'm starting to develop breasts (I'm pretty sore at the moment). The HRT won't change my voice though—only surgery can do that—but I like my singing voice, so I don't really care about that.

Telling My Daughter That I Will Always Be Her Daddy

I've used rock-and-roll history as a reference for Evelyn. Every morning, we watch music videos or look at record covers. The New York Dolls, Boy George, David Bowie, Freddie Mercury—Evelyn has seen many rockers blurring gender lines and has taken amazingly well to referring to me as "she" and "her." Still, I could tell she was a little confused the first time she saw me presenting as a female. One night, a couple of weeks into transitioning, as I was putting her to bed, she said she didn't want me to be a girl anymore—she wanted me to be a boy again. I had never felt more self-doubt in my decision than at that moment. The only thing I could do was to assure her that no matter what happens, I will always be her daddy and I will always love her.

Yes, Evelyn still calls me Daddy, and she can for as long as she wants. At some point, she may want to adopt another name to call me—we may find ourselves in situations where people could get confused. If, say, both of us are in a public women's restroom and she's referring to me as Daddy, it may cause unwanted attention. I worry about what will happen when Evelyn starts school. I worry that other kids might make fun of her on account of my being trans. Truth be told though, when it comes to what other people think about me, I say fuck 'em. That's the lesson that I want to impart to my daughter: It doesn't matter what people think of you—you have to be true to yourself.

My Fans

During our shows this year, I was surprised by how many fans stuck by my band and how many came up to offer their support afterward. I met trans men and women from all walks of life, all at various points in their journeys. Many said I was an inspiration to them, but they are an inspiration to me. I had questions about transitioning, and my new friends were more than happy to share their tips! I don't know a single other person who is trans where I live. But now I feel lucky to have friends around the world who share in the experience. Growing up, I never had a role model to show me that you can be trans and live a happy life. I hope that I can be that source of hope for someone out there who's struggling.

The full article features lots of pictures of Grace and her family, including a short photo gallery tracking her transformation. There's also a short interview with Grace's wife, Heather. Click here to read the fascinating piece.

 Joel

About Joel

Joel is a 97x Music Guide weekday afternoons from noon until 6 p.m.

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