By P Blood
Ever seen that art film Hedwig and the Angry Inch? I’m sure being the pop-cultural conscious folk that you are, you have. Or at least you’ve have heard of it, and like a good hipster, you pretend to know what the person is talking about when it comes up.
Ever heard of that band Against Me? You’re up to date on all your latest punk music, so you have. You bought all their albums before they were cool, yeah, we know. You were in love with Gabel before any scenester sluts knew his name…
How are these things related? It broke this month that Tom Gabel suffers from gender dysphoria and is undergoing gender reassignment, and pretty soon would be a fully fledged card-carrying member of the fairer sex going by the name, Laura Jane Grace.
So we have a real-life Hedwig and the Angry Inch scenario. As it happens, it probably isn’t as arty and melodramatic as the film.
According to reports, Laura will continue to front her band she started in 1997 and the band has been working on a new album Gender Dysphoria Blues.
A male lead singer in a band is becoming a lady. I’m sure it’s simply fabulous for those other transsexuals who now have a kind of celebrity spokesperson.
I’m no expert and can’t claim to know anything about transgendered folk, if I am perfectly honest. I don’t think I’ve ever met a transgender person before.
I used to serve a rather confusing looking prostitute that came in to the night club I worked at, back in the day. She was never there for very long and only ordered a couple of drinks, and then left. I expect she came in to get out of the elements and dull her sense with alcohol, before heading back out in to the night to continue the thankless job of sucking dick in the car park across the road.
Before I get blown out for being insensitive, Against Me’s new album is about exactly that: a transgender prostitute. That being the total of my dealings with the transgendered, I can claim to know less than nothing about it.
Before you surmise that Gabel is referring to himself in the song, with the lyric, “some people just aren’t made for marriage and family,” I should note that he has a wife who is supporting and sticking by him/her (It is getting difficult to write about which sex… she… is?) and they have a kid.
I know there are negative perceptions and Laura can expect some bad reactions to her in future. The upside a lot of people are expecting from Tom becoming Laura is that people, not unlike myself, who, although not raising banners for or against them, have never really thought beyond, “I don’t really care” are now becoming more aware of some of the issues that the transgender community faces.
So what does it mean to the fans of the music? It would seem it is a test of the open-mindedness of punks the world over. Against Me, have for years been one of the darlings of punk rock. They undeniably have brilliant lyrics, a touch of the early 90’s revival sound with their own brand of catchy hook ridden punk tracks.
They undoubtedly brought many a lost teenager in to the punk fold as one of the modern gateway bands to the whole culture. But here we are, 50 years after the first bands in New York and London began playing fast paced music and calling it punk, in the year 2012, and we’re facing the first real challenge to the claim that punk is for everybody.
Punks claim to be a pretty open-minded bunch, with all the neo-liberal political correctness, which even I have struggled with on some level. I don’t whitewash the subculture though, simply because I know better. There are racists, bigots, and conservatives within the punk culture. You would be an idiot to deny it. Looking at the newly excited activity in the comment section of their videos around the internet, you can plainly see it for yourself.
There have been cross-dressers (gay and lesbian), and all manner of non-mainstream sexualities which have been broadly and, on occasion, loudly accepted. Just look at someone like GG Allin. I’m in no way drawing a comparison; I’m just saying, it takes all types.
This is a new level of acceptance though. How many punks are feeling a little uncomfortable? Maybe confused? I know more than a few are just saddened by the prospect of Against Me never being the same ever again. Apparently the process of becoming a woman does not change a person’s voice, but can we really expect Laura to keep her rough angst dripping, manly vocals?
Whatever happens with the band, it is more than certain that the transgender community will gain a huge swell of support thanks to one person’s bravery in coming out.
Suffering from an inexplicably large ego and ignoring common courtesy, Mr P. Blood indulges his opinions about whatever comes to his cesspool of a mind, and strangely people don’t seem to hate him for it. Making him a writer, of sorts.