Rolling Stone broke the news yesterday that Against Me! singer Tom Gabel is currently transitioning from male to female. The first openly transgendered rock star, Gabel plans to begin the process soon and will eventually take the name Laura Jane Grace. Gabel is speaking frankly about the tenuous position she is in, saying "I'm going to have embarrassing moments, 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." Her courage to be forthcoming about her gender dysphoria is admirable, as transgender children and youth are often left without role models or successful transgendered icons to look up to.
In the media coverage of Gabel's announcement, we can see the gendered politics of semantics in stark relief. Rolling Stone, in their teaser online piece to advertise the full article in the latest issue, uses 'she' pronouns throughout, which one can only assume is the way Gabel would want it. Transitioning is never an easy process, and part of respecting someone's journey is using the correct pronouns. Other news sources--Huffington Post among them--still credit Gabel as 'he,' ignoring the very personal and delicate decision to become a woman and the implications of ignoring Gabel's new identity. Pronouns matter; think about them carefully.
We wish Gabel well during the transitioning process.
Image source Cass Bird for Rolling Stone
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