Firefly Pointer Fiberglass Jacket: Transgender rock stars

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Transgender rock stars

Any rock and roll and how it relates in pop culture subject is a topic of discussion for me.  As some of you may know, I came out late last year as transgender. To some people this seems to be a growing trend. Maybe it is a "trend", a trend in the way where we are moving into a more open and honest age. It's easier and more acceptable to be who you are these days, but there are plenty of obstacles to over come.  I've made no secret about the fact that my biggest heroes are Freddie Mercury and David Bowie. My female role model growing up was Joan Jett, who is if were going to give labels, is a lesbian. A lot of my musical influences were gay, or at the very least gender bending. Cross dressing became popular in the 70's, especially in the wake of characters like David Bowie, Marc Bolan and Elton John. With someone like me who is openly in the Church of Bowie, my friends weren't all that surprised when I came out. In fact some of them said "What took you so long?"

This brings me around to transgender rock stars. The ones I've mentioned before are mostly gay and or gender benders, but none of them are transgender. Transgender, just as a friendly reminder is the state of a person's gender identity. There are some folks who think of gender as boy or girl, whats feels to me like  "black or white" thinking. There are also a lot of other people who have a different school of thought. Some people view gender as personal, complex, and fluid.

Recently Tom Gabel of  "Against Me" gave an interview to Rolling Stone where he admitted he is transgender. This is a pretty popular topic currently in the music world. Some are saying he's doing it for attention, but most readers and fans alike are rooting him on. Gabel now wants to be called Laura Jane Grace. Being in a very similar situation to Laura, (just the exact opposite) I can certainly relate. We may live in a more forgiving world, but there are still plenty of people who think being trans is a mental disorder. I urge those people to do their research. And ask a real doctor. Nobody should or can completely rely on Google for medical information. Making the transition is never easy and I imagine it could only be amplified in the lime light.

JC live in NYC in 2007.

Laura is not, however, the first 'rock star' to come out as transgender. Jayne County, formerly Wayne County of the Electric Chairs (formerly "The Backsreet Boys") takes that crown. If you haven't heard of Jayne, allow me to fill you in. Jayne moved to New York in the 70's punk hay day where she became a Warhol model in the film "Femme Fatale" and "The Factory." Jayne was apart of the CBGB's scene, playing alongside The Ramones, Television, the Talking Heads, and all the others. I saw Jayne County perform live at a Joey Ramone Birthday Bash in 2007. She rocked!

My favorite Jayne County song!

I like to make the point often that "rock did it first" meaning that a lot of the people that we think are the first are not. Lady Gaga was not the first person to ever challenge gender norms for example. That was David Bowie! Gender bending, and transgender is not new, just like gay is not some 'new' thing. Like I said before, it is getting gradually easier to be who you are. I'd also like to point out that the first rock and roll song about being transgender was also a rock and roll song. "I'm a boy" by The Who is about a FtM. Despite the awful set back today in North Carolina for Gay marriage, I still believe it is getting easier with time. Cheers to Laura for coming out! I know it takes a lot of courage. It isn't easy to get up day in and out and present who you really are to the world. You don't need to be trans to know what that feels like. 

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