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My First Year as a Woman

Laura Jane Grace's transgender journey

Page: 1 of 8
  • Courtesy of Cosmopolitan

    Last year, punk rocker Tom Gabel astonished his fans and the music industry alike by announcing he was becoming a woman and changing his famous name to Laura Jane Grace. Here, exclusive account of a remarkable journey from Cosmopolitan.

    At age 5, Tommy Gabel happened to catch a Madonna concert on TV. That's me! he thought to himself, entranced. That's who I'll be when I grow up. Lots of little girls want to become Madonna—the problem was, Tommy felt like he was a girl even though he had a boy's body. Seeing Mia Farrow with her Rosemary's Baby–era pixie cut, which looked like his own boy haircut, inspired him: "She was my hero."

    Soon, Tommy started nosing around his mom's closet. He would build forts out of pillows and sneak in a pair of his mom's nylons. In middle school, he started shoplifting girls' clothes. "Putting them on made me feel calmer, more like myself. It was a stress relief," says Tommy—now Laura. Growing up in Florida in the pre-internet '80s and '90s, Tommy had no examples of people experiencing what he was. "We had Silence of the Lambs and Ace Ventura. Society doesn't portray transsexual people in a very positive light. Every example I saw—mostly transvestites, and I didn't know the difference—reinforced the shame I felt." (One is a term for some one who likes to cross-dress. The other is a complicated reality for more than 700,000 people in America.)

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My First Year as a Woman
Laura Jane Grace's transgender journey
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