[Reaction] Why The Support For Tom Gabel Is So Important

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Just a few days ago, in an interview with Rolling Stone (the full interview will appear in their June issue), Against Me! singer Tom Gabel announced that she was transgender and was going to undergo hormone treatment and electrolysis. She also announced plans to undertake the name Laura Jane Grace. Her wife Heather, who she has a two-year old daughter with, has committed her full support.

But she’s not the only one who has shown support. As a matter of fact, it seems that no matter which way I turn regarding this story, everyone has nothing but praise and encouragement for Tom and the journey that she is about to undergo. And that fills me with great hope for not only the mentality of our generation but also the mentality of a musical genre.

Punk is a genre that is dominated by masculinity. Even a great majority of the female musicians are either wearing clothes that are deemed more “masculine” or they dress and present themselves as more androgynous. That doesn’t mean that they are attempting to be more masculine, but it hints that they are eschewing their femininity, as though there were something wrong with it (which, of course, there isn’t).

So that’s why I see the punk community giving such strong support to Tom as a sign of the times. You see, even though 31 States have some sort of ban or prohibition when it comes to gay marriage, the youth is growing more and more supportive of making it legal. And regardless of whether or not we pine for the old days when punk was “real” and “meant something”, the youth of today finds rebellion in music where they need it.

Tom Gabel choosing to remain in the face of the public whilst undergoing her transformation is very much a form of rebellion. Now, I’m not saying that this is her intent. Rather, I’m almost positive that she just wants to be able to go through everything she needs to in order to feel at home in her own body and possibly, just possibly, be seen as a positive role model. But to be seen as a rebel? I’m gonna assume that this is not the intent.

But like it or not we’re still not in a time when our society can see this and be okay with it. There are still conservatives, the devoutly religious, and many more who see this as an abomination. If it’s not a sin against god, it’s a sin against humanity and a crime against our own bodies. “Being born male and wanting to become female? What kind of monstrosity is this???”

So, Tom Gabel is, without probably intending to do so, giving rise to a new form of rebellion: she is bringing gender dysphoria into the face of many people who might not have known a thing about it before. And the youth of today are already supporting the LGBTQ community in greater numbers than ever before. All they have to do is see her story and lend their support, be it in blogs, tweets, YouTube videos, Facebook posts, whatever. More so, once they are able, they need to go out and vote, making their voice heard in the most important of ways possible, the way that actually cause real change. Their support, and all those else who believe in Tom’s right to choose a new life for herself, flies in the face of those who are currently in power. After all, isn’t that what the punk movement has always been about?

Got any thoughts/questions/concerns for Jonny B.? Shoot him a message on Twitter!

  • Kaname-Tousen

    I’m not into punk and the thing is Punk never needed support to be what it is, Gabel doesn’t either during their change, I’m not saying “Hey don’t support them” but just saying I’m personally not going to due to the fact before the article of them coming out as transgender I’d never heard of them before. So I’m not going to rally behind them just because I hear about them now. I will however, as with any human being, protect this person’s right to be who they are no matter what that may entail as long as it doesn’t involve the mental or physical abuse of another person.

  • BabyJaneHudson

    Very insightful article Jon.

  • Raze55

    I don’t think that was the type of support he was talking about dude. I think he was saying that this is a huge life changing decision that will be both stressful and traumatizing for the family and friends, and the last thing they need is a bunch of narrowminded shit talking and “boycott the weirdo” that I’m sure was expected when this story dropped. Also Against Me! is great I’m curious to see the direction they go now.

  • Slampig

    Hey, I am backing you up 100%.

    • Slampig

      I am a 40 year old punk rocker and hey, you do what you do. If the community is truly open minded, no worries. You will be loved still, unless you stop making great music!

  • djblack1313

    Johnny B, awesome write up! as a gay man myself, it’s articles/news like this that brightens my day. i love that the younger generation is so accepting of LGTBQ people. i wish Tom/Laura Jane Grace a successful and smooth transition and happiness!

  • killrobot

    Not to take away from the greater point of your article, but in no way would I say punk rock is “dominated by masculinity”. Looking back at pioneers like Iggy Pop and Debbie Harry all the way through to modern punk bands, I’m not sure how you would come to that conclusion. Punk rock is also one of the most socially and politically progressive genres in music, it’s filled with people who fight for equality and civil liberties.

    Either way though, it’s great to see the most of the comments on the internet have been overwhelmingly positive regarding this decision.

    I’ve seen people make comments like “his marriage should be nullified” and “sex changes should be banned”, while they’re entitled to their opinions, “From the equality of rights springs identity of our highest interests; you cannot subvert your neighbor’s rights without striking a dangerous blow at your own.” – Carl Schurz

    • SuperRadMike

      Thank you for saying exactly what I was thinking.

  • turtlenipple

    Old Against Me! was so great.. And no, this has nothing to do with the article, just saying.

  • VeraVoodoo

    Hell yes! I had no idea! No mattter who they are they get my support! As I used to listen to them a lot, I am even more excited! This is awesome!

  • Catastrophe

    Thank you for posting such a sensitive and insightful article. Seriously, this kind of support for the LGBTQ spectrum means the world to me. Kudos!

  • Jonathan Barkan

    I’m really thrilled and honored that people are receiving this article so well. It truly means a great deal to me and I appreciate every comment.