Cosmopolitan Magazine isn’t really know for it’s hard hitting journalism. Most of the articles inside of Cosmo are about beauty, fashion, dating, and sex. Every so often however, they put out inspiring and beautiful stories about struggle and achievement. Recently they’ve published an article about Laura Jane Grace entitled My First Year as a Woman. Laura Jane Grace was actually born Tommy Gabel. After seeing women like Mia Farrow and Madonna, Tommy would become inspired and dream about becoming these women when he grew up. As he got older Gabel would rifle around in his mother’s closet and steal women’s clothing for the shops. Tommy said that when he put women’s clothing on it would make him feel calm and at ease. Unfortunately, during the 80’s and 90’s the only films that portrayed what Tommy could relate to were Ace Ventura and Silence of the Lambs. These films made Gabel feel bad about the secret he had been keeping. Transvestites were being portrayed as “freaks” and Tommy identified as being transgender, but didn’t understand the difference at the time. Every day Tommy was filled with shame for how he felt inside. As he got older, Gabel was beat up at school and called offensive slurs. He identified with Punk music, like the Sex Pistols and The Clash, because it wasn’t about taking the abuse – it was about fighting back. It wasn’t until Tommy was 31 years old, married and had a three year old daughter did he realize that it was time for a change. So Gabel began the long journey of becoming Laura Jane Grace through hormones and eventually surgeries. Cosmo did a great interview with the couple about the process that I really don’t want to summarize. I think everyone should read about Laura and her wife’s experience in their own words. Starting Hormones Holding those three little pills in my hand for the first time on May 11, 2012, was a turning point. I’d spent many sleepless nights leading up to that moment, thinking over exactly what I had decided to do. What if I wanted to stop? Was there a point of no return? At first, it was hard to tell whether the differences I felt were from the actual hormones or from the excitement about my change…but slowly, I started to feel more like myself, emotionally and physically. The hormones softened my skin, made my hair grow faster, and redistributed some of my body fat—my arms slimmed down and weight moved from my chest to my hips. And yes, I’m starting to develop breasts (I’m pretty sore at the moment). The HRT won’t change my voice though—only surgery can do that—but I like my singing voice, so I don’t really care about that. Telling My Daughter That I Will Always Be Her Daddy I’ve used rock-and-roll history as a reference for Evelyn. Every morning, we watch music videos or look at record covers. The New York Dolls, Boy George, David Bowie, Freddie Mercury—Evelyn has seen many rockers blurring gender lines and has taken amazingly well to referring to me as “she” and “her.” Still, I could tell she was a little confused the first time she saw me presenting as a female. One night, a couple of weeks into transitioning, as I was putting her to bed, she said she didn’t want me to be a girl anymore—she wanted me to be a boy again. I had never felt more self-doubt in my decision than at that moment. 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. Yes, Evelyn still calls me Daddy, and she can for as long as she wants. At some point, she may want to adopt another name to call me—we may find ourselves in situations where people could get confused. If, say, both of us are in a public women’s restroom and she’s referring to me as Daddy, it may cause unwanted attention. 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. 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. The Personal Stuff I mean it when I say that I believe my wife is my soul mate and that we were destined to be together. I’ll never love anyone more. I’ve always loved sex with my wife, and I want that to continue. Other than my fears about how my transition will affect my daughter, my greatest fears involve how this will affect intimacy with my wife. Eventually, HRT will cause me to lose the ability to get an erection, and at some point, I want to have full sex-reassignment surgery, which entails removing the male genitalia and creating a vagina and clitoris. When my body changes, will Heather still find me attractive? Will she still want to have sex with me? How will I continue to have sex with my wife if I can’t get hard? I’ve thought through this question over and over. The answer, simply put, is the way any other lesbian couple would. We’ll just have to figure out what feels good. Our relationship will face challenges, and some of those challenges will just be more fun to take on than others. My First Miniskirt Deciding to wear a skirt onstage in September was a personal landmark. It was the first time I had ever worn a skirt in public—and I would be doing so in front of a couple of thousand people. The skirt was a gift from a friend—it was black and leather, and it fit me great. I was worried about playing in it, unsure if it would affect the way I moved. Our set that night wasn’t our best, but it didn’t matter. I was breaking new ground. Accomplishing small goals when transitioning has a cumulative effect. The confidence you gain from reaching one carries you to the next. Face your fears, I say, but choose the right skirt to do it in. Christmas The Christmas before last was miserable—I was burnt out and spent the day drinking. This year’s was a world apart. We were at home, just the three of us, our small family. Evelyn came bounding into our bedroom early. “Santa came!” she yelled. Together, we sat around the tree and opened presents. I laughed when I found a matching bra-and-panties set in one box, a gift from Heather. A definite first. Heather’s Side of the Story Laura’s wife, 36, opens up about the changes in their lives. Cosmo: Did you ever suspect that Laura, then Tommy, had gender issues? Heather: There was never anything that made me think that Laura was unsatisfied with living as a man. I’d previously dated guys who were much more effeminate! Cosmo: When Laura revealed her secret, what went through your mind? Heather: 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. I know other couples split up over this, but I never considered leaving. I did fear, at first, that the thing that would make her feel most like a woman would be being with a man. But she said, “Just think of me as a lesbian!” After that, lots of things started to make sense. Cosmo: What kind of things? Heather: Laura used to cover her journal with her hand when writing, and it drove me nuts. I never snuck a peek, but once she came out, it made sense—she’d been hiding a big secret! And when I was pregnant, Laura would say she hoped for a girl because she didn’t know how to be a father to a boy. I couldn’t wrap my head around why fathering a son would unravel her…until she came out. Cosmo: You married a man, but now you’re with a woman. What’s that like? Heather: 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. I’d always thought I was just straight. But now I know that really the right girl hadn’t come along yet. It’s exciting to know that I am still evolving.