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Against Me! Singer Laura Jane Grace Talks About Her First Year as a Woman

Rocker discusses life after her transition from Tom Gabel

April 10, 2013 1:55 PM ET
Laura Jane Grace
Laura Jane Grace
Noel Vasquez/Getty Images

Laura Jane Grace spent two years secretly researching how to transition into a woman and reassured her daughter that she'll "always be her daddy," the Against Me! singer tells Cosmopolitan in an interview exploring her first year as a woman.

Grace publicly announced that she was transgendered to Rolling Stone last May, though the rocker says she knew even when she was a little boy that she wanted to be a woman. Grace said that as 13-year-old Tom Gabel, she discovered an encylopedia item about professional transgender tennis player Renée Richards, which sparked a revelation. "It was the tiniest entry, but I read it and reread it. Any time I found any information about some one like me, I devoured it," Grace said. "Kids would call me faggot and beat me up. I liked that punk was about fighting back, as opposed to just taking it."

The Secret Life of Transgender Rocker Tom Gabel

Although Grace always wanted to be a woman, she didn't doubt her sexuality, and she dated girls in high school. "I was always attracted to women. It was never a sexuality issue. I just knew that if I could make a wish to change into a woman myself, I would have made it 100 times every day," she said.

Grace had committed to living as a man after connecting with wife Heather Hannoura, but the stress of an unpleasant major-label experience and the impending birth of their daughter, Evelyn, led to drug and alcohol abuse as Grace struggled with her identity. "I was numb. I couldn't write; I couldn't function," she said. "The feelings were totally consuming. I couldn't live the lie anymore."

When she worked up the nerve to tell Hannoura that she wanted to live as a woman, it was a relief for both of them. "I wasn't sure how Heather would take it. She said something like 'That's all you were going to tell me?'" Grace said. "She later told me she thought I was going to say I had cheated on her or wanted a divorce – which she said would have been worse for her. She told me at that moment – and kept telling me – that she wasn't going anywhere."

Grace also shared her experiences with therapy and hormone treatment, including the weird stares she received at the therapist's office and the mental struggle of committing to hormones. "I'd spent many sleepless nights leading up to that moment, thinking over exactly what I had decided to do," Grace said. "What if I wanted to stop? Was there a point of no return?" Though her body has begun to develop, her voice will stay the same without surgery – something Grace doesn't mind. "I like my singing voice," she said.

Against Me!'s Laura Jane Grace: Coming Out Ended My Relationship With My Dad

Although Grace says her daughter adapted quickly to the transition, the singer said she has concerns for her child's future. "I worry about what will happen when Evelyn starts school. I worry that other kids might make fun of her on account of my being trans," she said. "Truth be told though, when it comes to what other people think about me, I say fuck 'em. That's the lesson that I want to impart to my daughter: It doesn't matter what people think of you – you have to be true to yourself." But they share a very close relationship that hasn't suffered one bit. "The only thing I could do was to assure her that no matter what happens, I will always be her daddy and I will always love her," Grace said.

Hannoura also talked to Cosmo, sharing her thoughts about how she and Grace have grown together. "It broke my heart to know she'd been going through this on her own for so long. I wasn't mad, because I can't fathom how hard it was for her to tell me after having been married for six years," Hannoura said. "In my mind, I married a person with whom I fell deeply in love. Laura's coming out has made me realize, in regard to my own sexuality and ideas about gender, that it's all more fluid than how society presents it . . . It's exciting to know that I am still evolving."

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