lcd soundsystem's gavin russom on coming out as a trans woman

The legendary dance-punk band's resident synth master is going on tour as her true self next week.

by Hannah Ongley
Jul 6 2017, 9:54pm

LCD Soundsystem fans won't just encounter new music when the group hits the road on tour this summer. The band's resident synth wizard Gavin Russom will take the stage for the first time since publicly coming out as a transgender woman. In a wide-ranging interview with Grindr today, Russom revealed she's spent the last year embarking on a rebirth separate from the iconic dance-punk outfit's own, and "could not imagine" performing as anyone other than her true self. 

"My body rejected [the idea] in the same way that it now utterly rejects going into a men's bathroom or when somebody calls me 'sir,'" Russom told Grindr's new online platform "Into" on Independence Day, adding that the band has had her back throughout her transition. "The general feeling in the group is that will make the band better." She came out privately to James Murphy et al before performing "Call the Police" and "American Dream" on the May 6 episode of Saturday Night Live, for which she wore a grey t-shirt featuring legendary sci-fi author Octavia E. Butler.

"I'm the happiest I've ever been," Russom said, "but I have my good days and my bad days. On my bad days, it really sucks and I wait until I get home to go to the bathroom — which is such a basic thing." She said the hardest part of coming out was being hypervisible in a world still often prejudiced towards trans people, especially when public bathrooms are involved. It's not just North Carolina: Russom recalled a recent trip to Macy's in Manhattan when she was too scared to use the women's restroom but couldn't find a gender-neutral one. She also opened up about her struggle with internalized transphobia.

Russom has been finding solace where many of New York City's trans creatives do — on the dance floor. "For people of transgender experience, walking out of the house in a way they feel comfortable is a revolutionary act. It's resistance," she said, citing local nightlife legend Juliana Huxtable, VICE journalist Diana Tourjee, and Stonewall activist Marsha P. Johnson as inspiration. 

Russom's revelation comes at a critical time for LGBTQ rights. The Trump administration has been rolling back the protections put into place under Obama, while the controversial HB2 and SB6 laws continue to threaten trans communities in North Carolina and Texas. Russom now wants her own upcoming shows — including a stint behind the decks at Chicago's Femme's Room during Pitchfork Music Festival — to function as cathartic safe spaces for other trans people who feel threatened.

"For anybody who is struggling with their gender identity or who wants to come out and is afraid to," Russom said, "what would be better than giving someone permission to do that through my performance? That's the ultimate. It's what other people gave to me, so I'd love to pass that along to other people, too."


Text Hannah Ongley
Image via Grindr