In 2007, Against Me!, a punk rock band from Gainesville, Florida, released a song called “The Ocean.” In his trademark melodic growl, lead singer Tom Gabel sang the following lyrics: “If I could have chosen/I would have been born a woman/My mother once told me she would have named me Laura/I would grow up to be strong and beautiful like her.” In the latest issue of Rolling Stone, Gabel reveals a secret he’s been keeping all his life: he is transgender, and those lyrics were autobiographical. From this point on, he will live as a woman. His new name? Laura Jane Grace.
Grace has lived with gender dysphoria her entire life. She spent her childhood feeling wrong and confused, her adolescence battling severe depression. She prayed–sometimes to God, sometimes to the devil–that she would fall asleep and wake up as a woman. She abused drugs and alcohol to numb the pain. “The cliché is that you’re a woman trapped in a man’s body,” she says, “but it’s not that simple. It’s a feeling of detachment from your body and from yourself. And it’s shitty, man. It’s really fucking shitty.”
In 2010 he told his bandmates he was transgender and planned to transition to live full-time as a woman. They were shocked, but after the news sunk in, their first instinct was to protect their friend in this vulnerable time. “We gotta take care of Tom!” the band’s manager Jordan Kleeman recalls telling the others.
Her wife Heather is also supportive and the couple plans to stay together. “I’m like, ‘Let’s see what happens, and we’ll just roll with it,’” says Heather, “I just want him to be who he is.” Grace was nervous that the couple’s two-year-old daughter might have to deal with teasing or mistreatment because of her father’s identity, but ultimately decided that “there’s no better example I can set as a parent than being true to myself. I hope that’s what she learns from me.” This Rolling Stone article marks the first public declaration of that truth. Up until now, only a handful of people knew about Grace; as of this afternoon, nearly 97,000 people have shared the story on Facebook.
Grace is currently taking hormones and still debating whether or not she wants to undergo surgery. Whatever path she decides to take, her bravery is truly an inspiration, and we can’t wait to see this amazing woman on stage.