End of Gender: Up The (Trans)Punks!

Laura Jane Grace of Against Me! reclines on a couch beside an acoustic guitar. She wears a sleeveless top that shows off her tattoos and her hair is wrapped in a towel.

We all know that punk rock isn’t just for boys. Laura Jane Grace Gabel of Against Me! reminds us that it’s not just for cisgender folks, either.

The lead singer of Against Me! came out as transgender in the latest issue of Rolling Stone, which hits newsstands on Friday. While some of the comments on Rolling Stone’s online article are predictably disgusting, commenters on the official Against Me! message board have been overwhelmingly supportive. After all, any diehard fan knows it’s the music that matters. And if transfolks are the ones making it, well, that should come as no surprise.

Rock stars who defy gender roles have always been at the forefront of music—the New York Dolls, David Bowie, Annie Lennox, Patti Smith, Boy George—the list goes on and on. Then we have bands with trans-identified singers like Jayne County and the Electric Chairs and the heavel metal group Life In Agony, whose lead singer, Mina Caputo, came out as transgender last year (and made this gorgeous music video).

But Gabel’s transition has made a bigger splash, perhaps because she made her big reveal Rolling Stone. According to Josh Ells, who wrote the piece, Gabel wanted her story to be a very public resource. “Instead of having people e-mail and call over and over, she could just say, ‘This article explains everything and after that we can talk,’” he said of the piece.

Gabel is already changing minds, most evidently in a punk community often dominated by machismo. As one person, who identities “as male pretty set, for now at least, in his heterosexual ways and have never questioned by sexuality or gender (yes, there is a difference)” wrote on Tumblr, “We the punk community, and the world at large, have been given a chance to be a positive movement in/for the LGBTQIA community.”

Looks like Laura Jane Grace just might help make that happen.

Check out this video of Gabel performing “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” (lyrics available here) or catch Against Me! on tour this summer.

Previously: It’s a [Heteronormatively Gendered] Girl!, Reading List for the Genderpocalypse

by Malic White
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9 Comments Have Been Posted

I'm happy for her. To reveal

I'm happy for her. To reveal this in a mainstream music publication is both brave and smart; it will separate the real fans from the ignorant and hopefully also open a dialogue within the "mainstream"about transgender identity. To quote e.e. cummings, "It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are. "

This woman has raped several

This woman has raped several other women. Being trans should not be a excuse for that, but it seems it's being forgotten by every media talking about her.

Please, don't let this turn into the same that happened with Kael T. Block, a rapist trans man who is being forgiven by almost everybody in the queer and trans communities while his victims are questioned and judged for daring to tell the truth. Transness never excuses misogyny.

Didn't realize

Hi Sally,

I can't speak for Malic, but as the editor of this article I had no idea that Gabel was an alleged rapist. Also, a Google search (not always accurate, I know) on the subject isn't returning any results. Of course we don't want to excuse rape though—do you know where I might look for more information on this?

I'd like to know where this

I'd like to know where this information of being a rapist came from?

This cropped up on Tumblr

This cropped up on Tumblr yesterday as a rumor... based on rumors. NO ONE has come forward and said they were raped by Laura, and the originator of the rumor RETRACTED THEIR STATEMENTS after admitting that they were misinformed and hadn't verified anything and, again, that it was based on rumors.

The comparison to KTB isn't valid. Trans men get away with rape in part bc of male privilege. Trans women, on the other hand, are frequently vilified (esp by radical feminists) and called rapists simply on the basis of being trans women. Trans women are seen as predators. It's no coincidence that this rumor cropped up the day after she came out as trans.

I'm really curious about this

I'm really curious about this as well. I also couldn't find anything via Google, but we have to remember that there was a time when not every thing instantly went up online. I don't want this to turn into some violent trans smear, but I also don't want to excuse a rapist. I certainly am not one to doubt a survivor's word, but as of now I don't see anything from a survivor, just rumors on Tumblr. I'm going to withhold judgment until something else pops up. If you know something we don't, by all means put it out there. It needs to be said.

This rumor-of-a-rumor was

This rumor-of-a-rumor was started at the Tumblr blog "galesofnovember" and has since been removed from their page. Here is the post for reference:

"Tom Gabel is a rapist.

I’ve got nothing but “rumors” because the women that Tom Gabel raped figured out very, very quickly that the social consequences of saying your were raped by some big time punk rock anarchist celebrity weren’t something they wanted to have to deal with.

But seeing people call Tom Gabel a feminist or brave or talk about how much they love Tom Gabel’s music all over my dash makes me feel nauseous.

So I’m just going to use tumblr savior and this is the last I’m going to say about this."

The topic of rape is a very, very big f--king deal and obviously any opportunity to shine a light on it and potential/alleged rapists is a good idea. "gales," unfortunately, is presenting hearsay - as well as a documented anti-trans trope - in a very plausible package that is specifically designed to make people who genuinely don't want to be scumbags go "whoa, WAIT JUST A MINUTE."

I believed this at first, only because last November something like this happened in my area. I know the victim through my best friend, and my friend had physical evidence plus a string of texts after the attack. The person who did it is in a punk band. The punk band is still together, the attacker is still playing with them and the victim is regarded by the ignoramuses in the "scene" as a liar, "slut," and most negatively, a "threat to the scene."

While I am skeptical of this exact situation, I do think rape and misogyny in punk is something that's still by and large being ignored and it needs to be talked about.

I can't stop listening to that song

The lyrics and performance are heartbreaking. I was so happy to hear about her decision to come out and start transitioning. I was also please to hear that her wife is deciding to stay with her, I hope it works out between them.

I hadn't heard anything about rape allegations for her either, that would of course be terrible and inexcusable if true.

If Tom/Laura is a rapist, I

If Tom/Laura is a rapist, I certainly wouldn't be a fan of her. I would like to know where these allegations are? All I've seen online is that someone said "they heard" he/she was a rapist. Are there legal proceedings against him/her? I'd like to see something substantial before I accused Tom/Laura of rape.

I do know online who Kael is (as an artist), and was surprised to see these allegations. I hadn't heard of them before.

I hope the rumors aren't true of either person. If they are, I feel great empathy for the victims.

I know the power of negative stereotypes and just feel I want to see something more concrete than rumor before vilifying Tom/Laura.

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