Tom Gabel of Against Me!: A rock star changes gender in the spotlight


Against Me! singer Tom Gabel in 2008. (Mark Humphrey/Associated Press)

Well, this seems to be a first for punk rock: Tom Gabel, lead singer of Against Me!, announced in a new Rolling Stone interview that he is transgender and will begin living as a woman, via hormone and cosmetic treatments. Future name: Laura Jane Grace. Gabel plans to stay married to wife Heather — and apparently to keep on rocking: The Florida band has a new album on the way and a national tour headed to the Fillmore in Silver Spring next month.

“I’m going to have embarrassing moments,” Gabel told the magazine. “But . . . [I’m] hoping people will understand, and hoping they’ll be fairly kind.”

We’ll see. There were messages of support on the band’s Facebook page, but some ugly outbursts on other music forums. The news surprised fans of the band, whose liberal-activist politics are wrapped in a macho aesthetic — growly voices, loud guitars, tattooed lumberjack arms. (Of course, their song “The Ocean” is getting a new listen: 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.)

Truth is, it’s not just new territory for punk rock.


Chaz Bono. (Jason Merritt/Getty Images )

A camera-shy Lana Wachowski — then known as Larry — in 2003. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Which could be tricky for Gabel, who went from being a moderately prominent rocker to That Transgendered Rock Star overnight. No worries, said Wallent, the novelty will wane. “If you’re awesome at what you do, if you’re a great person, that’s what’s going to persist.”

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