Well, here's a complicated situation: trans icon and punk legend Laura Jane Grace appeared in this month's issue of Rolling Stone. She's the best and her band, Against Me!, just dropped a new album — so, yay! The magazine ran some gorgeous photos of Grace in a bathtub, but didn't censor her breasts as they do with other topless women. Is this totally cool or really transphobic?
The idea that a woman's breasts should be considered obscene is obviously ridiculous and perhaps Rolling Stone is changing their attitude about the way they depict bodies. But Grace's ex-wife, Heather Gable, made a post on Facebook that claimed that the periodical had some transphobic intentions behind the image.
Firstly, Gable suggests that the article unfairly portrays Grace's transition:"I was really disappointed to see that it focused on how her transition had ruined her life, and that us splitting up was a result of that transition. Everyone who knows me knows that this is not the case, f*ck, the writer knew it because I plainly told her."
"Why do I care what a bunch of other people reading the article think?" asked Gable. "Because it's sensational hetero drama that I don't want to be even an unwilling party to in print ... Despite the fact that [the writer] completely botched what could have been a really eye opening, powerful, piece that other non-binary gendered people could have found something relevant or relatable to, my biggest problem with this piece is the gross misrepresentation of LJ's gender identity."
Gable specifically called attention to the lack of censorship as a transphobic gesture: "Rolling Stone has never published a photograph of a non trans women's nipples uncensored before, which, to me, reads as them making arbitrary distinctions between trans and non trans women, which is f*cked up," she said. "Everyone's tits should be legal. In my opinion, this is not a subversive decision aimed at giving censorship the middle finger, it's a blatant example of misgendering, of gender inequality, and a general slap in the face to anyone who expects to have their gender identity respected."
Gable goes on to make several alegations about misrepresentation but concludes on this note: "The entire LGBTQ+ experience is constantly fetishized; sensationalized to absolutely no one's benefit. I hope that someone eventually gets it right, that a publication with as much influence and as large of an audience as this magazine writes it real someday."
Does Rolling Stone think that trans women aren't real women?
Gable and pop-feminist blog Jezebel have reached out to Rolling Stone for a comment but have received no reply.