So for the first time in a long time I was actually excited that I caved and bought that 4-year subscription to Rolling Stone from that telemarketer back in 2009. Usually I just skim it before throwing it in my box of back-issues to cut up for collages. However, this time there was actually a story that struck a chord with me.
As I mentioned earlier, Against Me! singer Tom Gabel has just recently come out as transgender. I was super-stoked when I heard the news, not only because Against Me! is one of the few mainstream punk acts that I actually like, but also because they’re a fairly big band, so I think it’s great to have such a high-profile musician come out like this. Now trans folks everywhere can have a rock star idol of their own.
Anyway, as I was reading the story, I was struck by how much of Gabel’s story was similar to my own. One of my favorite bits was this:
Some days, he would pray to God: “Dear God, please, when I wake up, I want a female body”
I did the exact same thing at least three nights a week in elementary school. It was actually one of the things the led to my rejection of Christianity at such a young age. Every morning I would wake up and run to the bathroom and check myself to see if my prayers had been answered, and they never were. I began to realize that prayer isn’t good for anything, and then I began to think that a God that could make such a glaring mistake as putting a soul in the wrong type of body couldn’t be all that perfect. I’m not sure if Gabel ever went through the same thought process, but I wouldn’t be surprised if his faith at least evolved through life.
I was also struck by his struggles with substance abuse. From the article:
He’d go on to struggle with addiction well into his twenties; in retrospect, he thinks, he was doing whatever he could to numb the pain.
My friends will know that from 2007-2011 I struggled with a pretty serious case of alcoholism. I found out shortly after turning 21 that getting drunk makes me feel much better about life. I’m a really happy drunk. Well, to a point. Anyway, I’m willing to bet this is probably a pretty common trend among trans folks.
And then there’s the comfort that comes from looking at yourself en femme:
Even today, Gabel can’t look at himself in the mirror without being disgusted by the parts that look male: his Adam’s apple, his square jaw, his shoulders, his hips. Back then, the only way he knew how to cope was to cross-dress: “Just the act of looking in the mirror while presenting femme is immediately calming,” he says.
I’ve always been told that I was a pretty attractive guy, but for some reason this always just pissed me off. I always used to avoid reflective surfaces, because all I saw was a dude, which wasn’t what I felt like I was. Once I got the balls to try experimenting with make-up and women’s clothing, I realized that I might actually be able to pass as a moderately attractive woman, which was one of the most comforting things I’ve ever experienced.
Finally, in the next paragraph, we learn that Gabel questioned his own sexuality. I went through the same time. I always thought I liked girls, but then I realized that maybe this is just how you knew you were gay. While Gabel made out with a few of his guy friends, I experimented sexually with another curious friend on one occasion my freshman year of high school and determined that it definitely wasn’t for me.
I’m also extremely excited for him that his wife is sticking with him. That was probably the hardest part of coming out in 2007, and probably contributed significantly to my depression: I had been with a woman I loved more than anything for nearly two years, and at first I thought I could go on living as a guy for the rest of my life as long as I had her, after about 18 months with her the longing to transition started to come back with a vengeance. I told her what was going on and she decided that she wasn’t cool with that because it wasn’t part of her sexual identity. I think there were other reasons, but still, it’s always good to hear that trans folks can come out without completely destroying their relationships.
I also just found out that Against Me! is gonna be in Omaha in a few weeks. I’m currently trying to round up a posse to show some support for a fellow trans woman.
Anyway, this is an especially good Friday. Not only do I feel a little less alone, but I just realized that the countdown is counting down: Exactly one more week till my hormone appointment! Super-awesome!