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The Secret Life of Transgender Rocker Tom Gabel

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But of all the scary things she's facing, one of the scariest is talking to her parents. She still hasn't told them. "I've been putting it off and putting it off. With my mom, I just don't want to deal with crying. And I don't even know how to deal with my dad. I'll probably just write him an e-mail. I predict it'll be a relationship-killer."

Laura says she and her dad aren't close. They only speak every few months, and even then, it's usually about family or the weather. Heather thinks that if it weren't for Evelyn, they probably would never see him. (During one visit, she says, "Tommy had to ask him for a hug.") Laura says she's more worried about Heather's parents than about her own: They're somewhat conservative too, and she's afraid they'll think she's letting their daughter and granddaughter down.

When it comes to her own dad, Laura says she already knows how the e-mail will go: "I'm basically gonna say that I'm coming out as a transsexual, and gender dysphoria is something I've dealt with my entire life. That he doesn't really know me, and he's never really known me. And that if he can't respect this, I see no reason why we should have a relationship." She seems sad about the prospect of possibly never speaking to him again, but also firm. "I really hope I'm wrong," she says. "But, fuck – it's not a conversation I'm looking forward to."

By the end of the month, she's made a lot of progress. She got "ma'amed" for the first time, while out shopping with Heather. ("It felt great.") She had her first appointment with her endocrinologist: Assuming everything goes according to plan, she'll be on hormones by the time the band goes on tour at the end of May. She also finally called her mom, who reacted with such warmth and support and unconditional love that she felt silly for not telling her sooner. She still hasn't told her dad.

Laura says that apart from the physical stuff, not much will change. "It's not going to be this big reveal," she says. "I'm still the same person I've always been." She's not worried about the fans: "I'm sure there will be some people who are repelled by it. But I have faith." Mostly, she can't wait to be onstage as a female for the first time. "However fierce our band was in the past," she says, "imagine me, six foot two, in heels, fucking screaming in someone's face."

She is, however, a little worried about Evelyn. Not about her ability to cope – even at two, she says, Evelyn is tough and independent and knows her daddy loves her. "I'm just worried about how people will treat her." She's thought about it for hours and hours, even days. "And the thing I keep coming back to is that there's no better example I can set as a parent than being true to myself. I hope, I fucking pray, that's what she learns from me."

Laura knows that at some point they'll need to leave St. Augustine. She's thinking Los Angeles, maybe New York – someplace where she can find a community. ("It would be awesome to move somewhere where they don't have AIDS KILLS FAGS DEAD stickers on the trucks," Heather says.) "There's already a group of people who think Heather's a Satan worshipper," Laura says. "They held hands and prayed for her soul at a Chick-fil-A. And that's just because she wears black! Just wait," she says, "till they get a load of me."

This story is from the May 24th, 2012 issue of Rolling Stone.

Related
Against Me's Tom Gabel Makes Live Debut as Laura Jane Grace
Inside Transgender Singer Tom Gabel's Rolling Stone Interview
Fans Show Support for Against Me! Singer Tom Gabel
Gaslight Anthem, GLAAD Support Tom Gabel Coming Out as Transgender
Videos: Against Me! Live at Rolling Stone

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