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?
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