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Against Me
May 9, 2012 6:47 AM   Subscribe

Tom Gabel of Against Me! Comes Out as Transgender

Gabel will eventually take the name Laura Jane Grace, and will remain married to her wife Heather. "For me, the most terrifying thing about this was how she would accept the news," says Gabel. "But she's been super-amazing and understanding."
posted by BEE-EATING CAT-EATER (66 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Very brave and thoughtful to go public with this. I wish her all the best.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:50 AM on May 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


Good for her.

Shame about every album after the second one, though.
posted by infinitywaltz at 6:55 AM on May 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


Short article on Pitchfork here, including a link to a performance of a new song, "Transgender Dysphoria Blues".

I saw this a few hours ago on a music board I follow - fairly impressed by the reaction (bar one troll) which has been supportive (and generally uses the correct pronoun).
posted by Infinite Jest at 6:58 AM on May 9, 2012


Oh, and good for her and for her wife for being so understanding. Best wishes to both of them.
posted by Infinite Jest at 7:03 AM on May 9, 2012


Don't read the rolling stone comments, though.

It's been fun (sort of) to listen to Against Me! this morning and yesterday after hearing the news. They were the soundtrack to some beautiful and terrible times in my late teens.
posted by entropone at 7:05 AM on May 9, 2012


This is a good thing, and a very brave move. Hopefully, as people learn from such people that gender dysphoria is not a joke, we can move towards a more tolerant society where we can be who we really are. Profound transformation such as this is never easy. I hope the road ahead is a gentle one for her, and that it inspires great music.
posted by kinnakeet at 7:06 AM on May 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Even in a short item, RS did a better job reporting this than I thought they would. That boomer house organ isn't all bad.
posted by box at 7:06 AM on May 9, 2012


Don't read the rolling stone comments, though.

Never read the comments.
posted by odinsdream at 7:09 AM on May 9, 2012 [9 favorites]


Good for her, and much strength to her and her family for weathering this in the public eye.
posted by Theta States at 7:10 AM on May 9, 2012


That is awesome and brave. Against Me! are one of my girlfriend's favorite bands, and I took her to see them this summer. She insisted on being pitside, so I sort of had to keep my eye on the pit and deflect the limbs while she watched the show. It was probably the most respectful pit I'd ever been next to, so hopefully Laura doesn't have much to worry about from her fans.

Also, hooray for more women in punk rock.
posted by griphus at 7:14 AM on May 9, 2012


I'm actually surprised they left the comments on for that. It's not like it's a surprise how that would go.
posted by spicynuts at 7:18 AM on May 9, 2012


WhenI read the linked RS article this morning, I was very pleased to see that they immediately started using her correct gender pronoun.

But you couldn't pay me to read the comments. There is enough ugliness going around as it is.
posted by Kitteh at 7:19 AM on May 9, 2012


The preliminary Rolling Stone reporting looks really encouraging - correct pronouns (well, correct pronoun) and an appropriate picture. Power to Laura for coming out in what must not be the easiest circumstances, and here's hoping it all goes well for her. As a trans woman occasionally a little touchy about actually getting up on a stage to play with the bands I'm in, my heart is dancing with joy.
posted by Dysk at 7:20 AM on May 9, 2012


For those not too familiar with Against Me!, here's a video from a show 9 years ago (that i was at) that kind of captures their happy angst punk vibe.

Everybody sweating together in that pit was in love with everybody else.
posted by entropone at 7:28 AM on May 9, 2012


Never read the comments.

Is there some sort of chrome widget or greasemonkey script that just eliminates comments from basically everything*? Because I would install that widget with a furious quickness.

* - Except here, of course.
posted by jquinby at 7:28 AM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Good on her, and good on Rolling Stone for a sensitive and well written article. I wish her all the best.

(I've never heard Against Me!'s music, but for some reason the name of the band has always appealed to me.)
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:29 AM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, I heard in passing earlier today that the lead singer of a band had come out as trans, but I didn't know it was Against Me! I used to kind of really love them, and hey, it turns out I still do. I wish her really fucking well, and I'm gonna go dig whichever of their albums I own out of wherever I hid them.
posted by emmtee at 7:31 AM on May 9, 2012


Metafilter: Never read the comments.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 7:34 AM on May 9, 2012 [6 favorites]


I used CommentBlocker for awhile, although it can be a bit buggy. I stopped using it because I can't actually stop myself from looking at trainwrecks - I kept overriding it.
posted by muddgirl at 7:41 AM on May 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


wow, at first glance i thought that said "Mel Torme" and i was like 'you go mel!'
posted by facetious at 7:43 AM on May 9, 2012 [6 favorites]


Good for her. Always good to see somebody in the public eye not afraid/ashamed to come out for their proper identity.
posted by MartinWisse at 7:48 AM on May 9, 2012


I used CommentBlocker for awhile, although it can be a bit buggy. I stopped using it because I can't actually stop myself from looking at trainwrecks - I kept overriding it.


Done and done! And available for Chrome, no less. Thanks!
posted by jquinby at 7:51 AM on May 9, 2012


Yep, it's an encouraging sign that the original reporting from the Rolling Stone (at least the linked summary) uses the right pronouns. Sadly, you can't say the same thing about other folks (such as the AP) who have picked up the story. Does anyone know when the full article from Rolling Stone will be available online, though?

I confess almost total ignorance about Against Me! and punk rock in general. However, as a transgender woman, if this is really big news (which, judging from the coverage and the Stone's dropping the "major rock star" monicker, it seems to be) it seems that I need to educate myself on Laura's music and history.

Hope me, please? I'd love reading lists / play lists to get me up to speed on this stuff.
posted by TranSubstantial at 7:52 AM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hope me, please? I'd love reading lists / play lists to get me up to speed on this stuff.

If you're a Spotify user, I threw together a quick playlist of some of my favorites of theirs, mostly weighing towards the older material.

AM!
posted by ndfine at 8:02 AM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I always read the comments in stories like this. It's rough, sometimes, but gives an even clearer context to the story, showing what she will have to deal with every day as a somewhat public figure. It shows how much braver she is for doing this publicly, and along with yesterday's vote in NC shows how far we still have to go in fighting against intolerance in this world. Kudos to her and I wish her all the best of luck going forward.

Now YouTube comments, fuck that noise.
posted by Leth at 8:13 AM on May 9, 2012


Don't read the rolling stone comments, though.

Oh God, yeah. Some good ones there though, I favourited a bunch.
posted by Infinite Jest at 8:27 AM on May 9, 2012


David Palmer, the original keyboardist of Jethro Tull, also came out as transgender in 2003, adopting the name Dee Palmer.
posted by jonp72 at 8:29 AM on May 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's too early for me. I just kept scrolling and found myself reading the comments. Ugh ugh ugh. I wish her all the best, and I wish I had some kind of greasemonkey script installed that had inserted a big fat flashing "YOU REALLY DON'T WANT TO KEEP READING BELOW THIS POINT, NO SERIOUSLY, STOP SCROLLING" after the "Add a comment" box.

I'm too sleepy right now to handle people ripping off their human masks and revealing their hideous writhing evil insides like that, but I have this reflex (I basically blame the backs of cereal boxes for) where if it's before an hour after I wake up and there are words in front of me, I will read them.

It's just so fucked up, this conflict that happens when someone goes out and does exactly what we all are told is a good thing to do, which is to find ourselves and figure out what would fulfill us and make us who we really want to be. It exposes this horrible truth that the boundaries of personal expression and identity are not nearly as flexible as we like to believe. The shit she's going to have to go through, and she's already in a position where she's surrounded by artists and creative thinkers...

I need to go watch videos of puppies now or something or the rest of my day is completely shot to hell.
posted by Mizu at 8:32 AM on May 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Don't read the rolling stone comments, though.

There's a lot of shittiness in those comments. But there's also a ton of good people; a hell of a lot more than people might expect.
posted by inigo2 at 8:32 AM on May 9, 2012


Now YouTube comments, fuck that noise.

Yeah, YouTube comments can really suck, but I figure, if there has to be a minimum level of stupidity and hate out there, it might as well be absorbed totally by YouTube comments.
posted by jonp72 at 8:33 AM on May 9, 2012


It's not like this is a total surprise. Didn't one of Against Me's songs have the line 'I wish I'd been born a woman'?
posted by dunkadunc at 8:52 AM on May 9, 2012


As mentioned in the Laura link above, that song is where the name came from.
posted by Nabubrush at 8:59 AM on May 9, 2012


From The Ocean, off of New Wave:

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
One day, I'd find an honest man to make my husband
We would have two children, build our home on the Gulf of Mexico
Our family would spend hot summer days at the beach together
The sun would kiss our skin as we played in the sand and water
And we would know we loved each other without having to say it

At night, we would sleep with the windows of our house left open
Letting the cool ocean air soothe the sunburned shoulders of our children

There is an ocean in my soul where the waters do not curve

posted by daHIFI at 9:05 AM on May 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


One good comment that deserves spotlighting: by ManJesusPig, in response to an ill-informed thread about gender:

"Judith Butler wants to fucking slap you."
posted by harperpitt at 9:06 AM on May 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also see Mina Caputo (video seriously makes me cry), who came out a couple years ago. I had never heard of Against Me, but celebrities transitioning publicly will probably only help trans people in the long run. Hopefully.
posted by polywomp at 9:17 AM on May 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


TransSubstantial, I'd suggest just listening to their full-lengths in the order they were released:

1. Reinventing Axl Rose

2. As the Eternal Cowboy

3. Searching for a Former Clarity

4. New Wave

5. White Crosses

You can definitely hear the progression of their sound over time. As a dyed-in-the-wool punker I lean heavily towards the older stuff, but all their material's good.

People are quoting "The Ocean" off New Wave a lot because the second verse is especially relevant to this story, but I'd like to point out that it's not really indicative of their general sound. It's *much* mellower. For something closer to classic Against Me! (yes, the punctuation is part of the name) that still covers the same themes check out "The Disco Before the Breakdown" "Searching for a Former Clarity.". Also, I just realized that those are both their respective albums' title tracks. Huh.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 9:29 AM on May 9, 2012


jonp72: but I figure, if there has to be a minimum level of stupidity and hate out there, it might as well be absorbed totally by YouTube comments.

I fear that with YouTube comments, it's more a case idiocy promoting more idiocy.

The only transgender musician who came to mind was Jordana LeSesne, born Joe LeSesne, who used to release music under the alias 1.8.7. She started using the alias when she was Joe, and in 1998, she became Jordana. According to Wikipedia, in 2001-2002 LeSesne worked at Flex FM as Lady J, and she's still making jungle music.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:30 AM on May 9, 2012


This news made me incredibly happy when my ladyfriend told me about it this morning.

I've never been a fan of Against Me, though as far as modern punk bands go they always seemed like they were on the side of the good guys (or at least they did back when people around me were listening to them a decade ago). I saw them play a house show in either the Bay area or Portland and remember enjoying it.
posted by item at 9:39 AM on May 9, 2012


I wish her happiness. I've never listened much to Against Me!, but adore their "Borne on the FM Waves of the Heart" with Tegan Quinn (the video is adorable).
posted by changeling at 9:41 AM on May 9, 2012


Good for her and for everyone who is supporting her. I do have to admit, though, that when I read this:

Against Me! singer Tom Gabel reveals plans to begin living as a woman in the new issue of Rolling Stone.

I thought "Why not live in a house?"
posted by TedW at 9:42 AM on May 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


Against Me! is certainly one of my favorite "recent" bands, and Eternal Cowboy & Former Clarity are two of my "desert island" CDs... I'm happy for Laura and I hope she keeps making music.

And after reading a number of comments online, I'm thankful that MetaFilter (usually) remains an island of sanity, reason, and understanding. It's nice to have one place where I can waste my time amid relatively little selfishness, ignorance, and hate. Thank you all.
posted by enkd at 9:56 AM on May 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


Kudos to Rolling Stone for their reporting, they haven't always done such a great job when it comes to such issues.

During AM!'s initial tour in support of Reinventing Axl Rose, my old punk band had the opportunity to open for them at the now sadly defunct Farmhouse in Cleveland, Mississippi. There was more love, joy, sweat and bug spray* in that living room than imaginable. It is one of only two times in my life that I remember being brought to tears by a musical performance -- the set had come to an end, but we weren't having that. So, the evening closed with the only live performance of "8 Full Hours Of Sleep" that I ever saw, just Tom and a Rickenbacker. It was one of the most beautiful artistic things I ever experienced.

* Seriously, you haven't experienced mosquitos until you've hung outside of an old farmhouse directly next to a rice paddy in the Mississippi Delta.
posted by ndfine at 10:22 AM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is one of the RS comments:

The last sentence is missing a period. The exclamation point is part of the band's name. So the sentence is incomplete without its full stop.

So: prescriptivists everywhere!.
posted by chavenet at 10:23 AM on May 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


So does Genesis Breyer P. Orridge not count? Or is that more 'surgically post-gender pandrogyny'?
posted by FatherDagon at 10:32 AM on May 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Or maybe she's just more 'God Star' than 'Major Rock Star'
posted by FatherDagon at 10:33 AM on May 9, 2012


Of course I read the comments anyway. This one:

"Actually male organs, anatomy and body structure does. Until he has female reproductive organs and another pair of ribs, he will always be a man."

is a joke, right?
posted by naoko at 10:52 AM on May 9, 2012


I'm pretty sure that when I was in Sunday school, they taught (or at least strongly implied) that women had an extra rib or an extra pair of ribs, since God had to take some from Adam to make Eve. It was another one of those things that I didn't question until I started learning anatomy.
posted by muddgirl at 10:59 AM on May 9, 2012


I was taught that at my Catholic school in 7th or 8th grade, muddgirl.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:03 AM on May 9, 2012


Another one who had never heard of Against Me! before today. I hope the majority of her fans continue to be supportive. Things do seem to be getting better ( if more slowly than they should) with the correct pronoun's being used in the article I've read. Best of luck to her.

Also I'm sort of surprised Wendy Carlos hasn't been mentioned yet.
posted by Z303 at 11:46 AM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm typically pretty good about using the appropriate pronoun, but I think I probably would have screwed this one up. Because Gabel's transition is still forthcoming, I probably would have kept using male pronouns until she became Laura Ann Grace. Is there a rule I'm unaware of, or is it a personal, case by case thing? I'd like to make sure I get it right next time.
posted by Amanojaku at 2:45 PM on May 9, 2012


Once you know someone's preferred pronoun, you basically ought to start using it unless they tell you otherwise. There is no reasonable way to say she has "become" Laura--the obvious, a legal name change doesn't work because people have to delay for all kinds of reasons. Here, I think we can reasonably assume she's been using her name privately for some time, so the public announcement is cue for random people to switch names.
posted by hoyland at 3:12 PM on May 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


> I probably would have kept using male pronouns until she became Laura Ann Grace

Surely by announcing to the world at large that she is who she is, she has become Laura Ann Grace. Unless you mean physically, which is really none of our business.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:31 PM on May 9, 2012


Surely by announcing to the world at large that she is who she is, she has become Laura Ann Grace.

The article's phrasing -- "Gabel will eventually take the name Laura Jane Grace" -- is such that I wouldn't intuitively think that was something that had already happened. While the article does use "she," it also continues to refer to her as "Gabel," not "Grace," which was part of my confusion. Hoyland's point that Gabel has probably been privately been using the name for some time and the article is basically a way of saying, "Okay, now's the time," in spite of the "this will happen down the line" construction is a good one, and what didn't occur to me.
posted by Amanojaku at 4:21 PM on May 9, 2012


Doublewhiskeycokenoice: "TransSubstantial, I'd suggest just listening to their full-lengths in the order they were released:

1. Reinventing Axl Rose

2. As the Eternal Cowboy

3. Searching for a Former Clarity

4. New Wave

5. White Crosses
"

I'd suggest you listen to 1, 2, and 3, and then pretend that 4 and 5 never happened. Overproduced mediocre crap for mall punks.
posted by dunkadunc at 4:27 PM on May 9, 2012


> The article's phrasing -- "Gabel will eventually take the name Laura Jane Grace" -- is such that I wouldn't intuitively think that was something that had already happened.

Ah, I missed that. I had only skimmed the article.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:36 PM on May 9, 2012


Good luck to her. Now, what are the odds that we can get AM! to disown their recent material as being "terribly influenced by the strain of trying to conform", and get back to the Reinventing.../Eternal Cowboy sound?

You know, focus on the important stuff here.
posted by MattWPBS at 4:39 PM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think the "will eventually take the name" bit is sort of a red herring when it comes to which pronoun someone prefers. Someone may be nore comfortable with the name given them at birth than with the gender assigned at birth.

Personally, given that people who are transgender may feel physical/mental distress when they are misgendered (even if they are being gendered 'properly' according to their appearance), I think it's politest to start using the correct pronoun right away and allow that I may be corrected. If I'm not in a situation where I can just ask.
posted by muddgirl at 4:55 PM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Actually male organs, anatomy and body structure does. Until he has female reproductive organs and another pair of ribs, he will always be a man."

I held this belief for quite some time. Probably it wasn't until the past 10 years that I adjusted it through "male until the chop'n'gouge" to the point where it really doesn't bother me.
I think if you are not exposed to it it can be highly inexplicable.
I give people free passes.

Although I am still in pronoun denial/confusion.

Give the RS commentors time.
They're talking on the Internet. With adults.

(I have never heard of this band before.)
posted by Mezentian at 5:30 AM on May 10, 2012


I think the "WTF" was referencing the "another pair of ribs" part (because, despite what Genesis implies, men and women have the same number of ribs). "Biology determines gender" is a pretty common viewpoint.
posted by muddgirl at 6:54 AM on May 10, 2012


Or not really biology, because biology includes brain functions, but rather visible secondary sex characteristics determine gender (because honestly, we're not checking in adult's pants when we decide if they're a man or a woman).
posted by muddgirl at 7:07 AM on May 10, 2012


I'm pretty sure that when I was in Sunday school, they taught (or at least strongly implied) that women had an extra rib or an extra pair of ribs, since God had to take some from Adam to make Eve.

Didn't they cut people up and notice that this isn't the case? I mean, I can almost get some of the tortuous explanations people have for things like dinosaur fossils ("Satan put them there to tempt Christians into doubt!"). They're stupid, obviously, but I can almost understand them.

But ribs...there are only a dozen pairs. Even the most deluded, brainwashed religious fanatics I have met have by and large been able to count to 12 and do basic subtraction (i.e. "12 minus 12 equals zero").

Oh, humanity...I shake my head in tired exasperation.
posted by infinitywaltz at 10:55 AM on May 10, 2012


Didn't they cut people up and notice that this isn't the case?

My Sunday School teacher? I'm pretty sure that none of my Sunday School teachers had taken anatomy.
posted by muddgirl at 11:05 AM on May 10, 2012


Didn't they cut people up and notice that this isn't the case?

Hardly necessary, you can easily count your own ribs or someone else's without cutting them up.
posted by odinsdream at 11:17 AM on May 10, 2012


Yes, well, I would be the last person to argue that my church encouraged me to test Biblical claims or explore the natural world.
posted by muddgirl at 11:29 AM on May 10, 2012


I meant historically; I know they studied anatomy on cadavers in classical Greek society, which was at least something of an influence on later European Christian society, so you'd think enough time had passed to dispel such an easily disproved theory.

But I do hope you at least got a little bit of amusement picturing your old Sunday School teachers hacking people open, muddgirl.
posted by infinitywaltz at 11:30 AM on May 10, 2012


Scans of the rolling stone article, while they last: https://imgur.com/a/hydSB
posted by yeoz at 2:30 PM on May 13, 2012


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