Against Me! singer Tom Gabel has received an outpouring of support from her musical peers in light of her announcement on Tuesday that she plans to begin life as a woman. Her brave decision decision to go public with her transgender status earn praise from fellow musicians including Fun., Tegan and Sara, Senses Fail and Gaslight Anthem.
The news came just hours before a vote on Tuesday in North Carolina to pass a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, but just before President Obama stated publicly in an ABC interview on Wednesday (May 9) that he personally supports gay marriage. During a cycle that brought highs and lows in the ongoing debate over gay marriage, one of the questions that arose in the MTV Newsroom following Gabel's news was whether it would have an impact on her wife and their marriage.
Though Florida is not one of the six states in the nation that recognize marriages between same-sex partners, Gabel's declaration won't change her marital status either way, according to Lisa Mottet, Director of the Transgender Civil Rights Project at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
"Under established law, marriages are evaluated for their validity at the time of marriage, i.e., the date of the wedding/when the marriage license was signed," she said. "Only divorces, death, and annulments end marriages — gender transition does not end a marriage, nor convert it to a same-sex marriage. If two people were considered different sex at the time of their wedding, they will continue to be considered married until death, divorce, or annulment."
Gabel came out as transgender and discussed plans to begin living as a woman in the next issue of Rolling Stone magazine. She will now go by the name Laura Jane Grace and remain married to wife Heather, while undergoing electrolysis treatments and taking hormones to make the transition from male to female.
"For me, the most terrifying thing about this was how she would accept the news," Gabel told the magazine about her Heather's reaction. "But she's been super-amazing and understanding."
Gabel has dealt with gender dysphoria for years and decided it was a good time to speak up about the private struggle, telling only a few family members and friends about the upcoming transition before talking with the magazine. "I'm going to have embarrassing moments, and that won't be fun," Gabel said of coming out. "But that's part of what talking to you is about -- is hoping people will understand, and hoping they'll be fairly kind."
A number of her peers praised her bravery, including the members of Fun., who tweeted, "Reading about Tom Gabel coming out as transgender = inspiring. Always been a fan but it's even more amazing to know how strong & brave she is."
Openly gay twin sister rockers Tegan & Sara weighed in also calling Gabel "so incredibly brave." Congratulations and support also came from the members of Senses Fail, Broadway Calls, Toxicbreed, I Am the Avalanche, Motel Life and Circa Survive.
One of the most heartfelt notes was posted by Gaslight Anthem singer Brian Fallon, who preemptively struck out at anyone criticizing the decision. "So Tom's gonna be Laura now... and in 2012 I still find people on the internet commenting on another person's life how they insult and condemn a person for his choices," he wrote.
"How about the people who go through this and never find peace and end up committing suicide? Would you rather that? Or maybe he could become a raging drug addict and ruin his life and family? Would you rather that? Or maybe we could have rules from a dictator where everyone gets killed for anything they believe against the government, oh wait, that doesn't work ... How about you leave the guy alone. How about you let another human being make a decision about their lives without your snide prejudices and bigotry? This is one of the hardest decisions a person can make ... Whether you agree or don't, it's not your life. It's not your family. It's not your band, it's theirs."
And it wasn't just musicians, as WWE wrestling champ CM Punk also weighed in, writing, "@tommygabel courage and bravery. I got your back."
What do you think of Tom Gabel's announcement? Let us know in comments below.