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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 25, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 21
Rocker stuns fans with Transgender announcement
Arts & Entertainment
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Rocker stuns fans with Transgender announcement

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

In 2008, Tom Gabel interviewed with SGN. Gabel is lead singer of the hard-rock band Against Me!  one of the edgiest musical acts ever featured in this newspaper.

Gabel was extraordinarily sweet over the phone and answered questions about Gay weddings and Gay fans with no discomfort. He was a striking man, tall with short blond hair and boyish face, plus a colorful display of tattoos on a very fit body. To say Tom Gabel was sexy is a big understatement. Two years ago, in fact, I bumped into him downstairs at Neumos after he'd just taken a shower, and I froze with excitement. If you've never smelled a rock star fresh out of the shower - and I've been fortunate to be at the right place-right time twice - let me tell you that it's potent. But he was really kind and offered to put me on the group's guest list that night for a sold-out show (one that not even his record label could squeeze me into). Gabel also provided me with early buzz on Against Me!'s then-forthcoming album, White Crosses.

That night's blistering performance at Neumos was the last time I saw Tom Gabel.

A couple of weeks ago Gabel shocked fans and the music industry with an unexpected announcement  he is Transgendered. (I'll now refer to Tom appropriately as she.)

Suffering many years from gender dysphoria, a disorder in which a person is unhappy with their biological sex and desires to be the opposite sex, the decision was made to go public. Gabel, who will soon transition to Laura Jane Grace, broke the news to Against Me! followers on May 8, though she had already shared the information with Rolling Stone magazine about a month before. At that time, only a tight circle of family and friends knew about it. As reported by Rolling Stone contributing editor Josh Eells, not even the band's drummer was aware of Gabel's circumstances until late March.

Gabel and her wife Heather will remain married, and will continue to raise their two-year-old daughter together. How's that for a modern family?

Following the announcement, support from GLAAD and fellow artists soon began streaming in. Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park, who outspokenly voiced his opposition to Proposition 8 several years ago, tweeted, I don't think I've ever done anything that demonstrated the bravery of Tom Gabel. New Jersey-based punk act The Gaslight Anthem wrote an entire page of support for Tom on Tumblr, basically telling unsettled fans to just deal with it. The note ended with, So go live, Tom. And it wasn't long before some of Against Me!'s faithful started posting words of encouragement on random Internet sites.

Gabel says she has not yet decided whether to undergo gender reassignment surgery, but for the time being she has begun a near-complete male-to-female transition. And though I'll miss seeing tall, gorgeous Tom Gabel onstage when Against Me! comes back to Seattle, I certainly look forward to the debut of Laura Jane Grant.

Against Me! rose to fame with the politically themed hit White People for Peace, featured on the critically acclaimed album New Wave. The band has performed in Seattle several times, including at the 2007 Capitol Hill Block Party. My October 24, 2008, interview with Tom Gabel can be viewed at www.sgn.org (simply Google Tom Gabel Seattle Gay News).

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