Thursday, May 10, 2012

Media Moment: "Against Me! Singer Comes Out as Transgender"

Earlier this week, singer of punk band Against Me!, Tom Gabel, revealed to Rolling Stone that he is transgender and will undergo surgical procedures to become a woman. Gabel, who has lived privately with gender dysphoria for years, will be taking the name Laura Jane Grace. This announcement spread quickly, surprised many music fans, and even caused some issues with website coverage of the news. Since this is the first time a major rock star came out as transgender, many blogs and music websites were unsure on how to react and were careful with their wording and use of pronouns. One website that did not react sensitively to the announcement was popular indie music site Stereogum. In their article "Against Me! Frontman to Change Genders," the writer uses an extremely condescending tone to present the story. Here's an example: 

"Well, here’s something I don’t think anyone saw coming. Tom Gabel is the frontman and founder of Against Me!, one of the best punk bands currently in existence. But he isn’t going to be Tom Gabel much longer. He’s currently planning to begin living as a woman, and he’s changing his name to Laura Jane Grace. This is apparently a real thing. More below."

Wow. Although the site has been known to be snarky at times, a quote like "This is apparently a real thing." is extremely unnecessary and disgraceful. After reading that one short paragraph I did not think the article could get any worse. Of course I was wrong. The article continues with a quote from Gabel about undergoing electrolysis. "He says he’s been living with gender dysphoria for years and that he (she, I guess?) feels the need to talk openly about it, since no major rock figures have done this before."

He concludes the post with an even more upsetting comment: 

"So: Good for her? I guess? My main takeaway from this, beyond the obvious surprise, is that I’m hoping Gabel’s hormone treatments won’t change her inimitable bleat of a voice."

Of course, this offensive post angered many readers, which you can read in the comments. I understand that many music blogs have snarky tones and attitudes but using that in an article about a singer's inspiring announcement is unjust.                                                                                     (Article Link)

What are your thoughts on how Stereogum handled Tom Gabel coming out as transgender? Do you think this article's tone resulted from the writer's unfamiliarity with transgenders or personal opinion?

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