LOS ANGELES — Tom Gabel, the lead screamer of Florida band Against Me!, has come out as transgender and plans to undergo sexual reassignment surgery, according to excerpts from an interview published Tuesday night on the website of Rolling Stone magazine. The singer, 32, founded Against Me! in 1997, and over the course of the past 15 years it has risen to become one of the most successful of a new wave of punk rock bands.
According to Rolling Stone, Gabel, who is married, will soon begin the process of becoming a woman by taking hormones and receiving electrolysis treatments. He will take the name Laura Jane Grace.
Gabel isn’t the first high-profile musician to undergo sexual-reassignment surgery; in the 1972, “Switched on Bach” creator Walter Carlos became Wendy Carlos — but she announced the news quietly seven years later in a Playboy interview. Throbbing Gristle’s Genesis P-Orridge in the mid-’00s underwent a series of surgeries to become gender-neutral.
But for a major rock star to announce the news is unprecedented. Online, Against Me! fans are trying to come to terms with the news, even as they note a particular lyric in the band’s song “The Ocean” in which Gabel sings honestly about his desire:
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
In the Rolling Stone interview, Gabel acknowledged the difficulties that may lie ahead, even as his wife, Heather, has been supportive of the decision. “I’m going to have embarrassing moments,” said Gabel, “and that won’t be fun. But that’s part of what talking to you is about — is hoping people will understand, and hoping they’ll be fairly kind.”