"I was always attracted to women. It was never a sexuality issue," punk rocker Tom Gabel, now known as Laura Jane Grace, told Cosmopolitan in a detailed account of her first year as a woman. "I just knew that if I could make a wish to change into a woman myself, I would have made it 100 times a day." From childhood, Grace looked up to female stars like Madonna and Mia Farrow, secretly trying on her mother's clothes, and absorbing any story she could find of others, like herself, uncomfortable with their gender. It wasn't until 2012, when Grace was 31, married and a father, that she decided she had to make a change. Once her wife and bandmembers knew, she set off on the journey of transitioning, first seeing a therapist and then beginning hormone-replacement therapy.
Grace walks Cosmo through the transition process, from the emotional and physical reaction to hormones, to the daunting task of explaining her choice to her daughter, to her fears for how sex-reassignment surgery would affect her relationship with her wife and the experience of wearing a skirt on stage for the first time. Grace acknowledges that she is lucky to have family, friends, and fans who have stuck by her through this difficult process. As for Heather, Grace's wife, she tells Cosmo that her biggest concern when Grace came out to her wasn't that the man she married now wanted to become a woman, but that she'd been keeping such a huge secret to herself for so long. "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," she said. "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'm still evolving."