LCD Soundsystem synthmaster Gavin Russom has come out as transgender, a process she says started earlier this year, “after years of fits and starts.”
The difficulties I’ve had in dealing with [my transition in the past] definitely led me into some self-destructive behaviors, particularly around addiction and substance abuse. In the past, it consistently clouded or interrupted my ability to get into the kind of relationship with myself I needed to. I had to really work on that stuff and get it out of the picture.
The major experience has been one of things falling into place, things that maybe seemed incongruous about my life. Suddenly, as I started to accept the reality, it started to make more sense—like, “Oh, OK, that’s what that was. Oh, that’s how this period of my life connects to this other period.” Maybe the most important kernel is realizing that being a transgender person is really a real thing. It’s not any of the things that I think people who don’t have this experience tend to frame it as.
It has been a process of paying really deep attention to what’s going on with me. I had a very significant moment very early on when I called my bank and the teller said, “Oh sir, thank you so much for calling us.” It’s so hurtful, and of course they don’t know—they’re just looking at a document that has a gender identifier. But it was so powerful to just be enough in my own body to say, “Whoa, that didn’t feel good.”
There was legitimately something unmanageable for me about living as a cis man. I was working so hard just to present this image of myself that ran very deeply counter to who I really am. There’s nothing theoretical or intellectual about that. It’s the physical thing in my body. It felt like there was almost another person constantly walking next to me being like, “Hey, hey, hey, pay attention to me, hey, hey, hey.” To some degree I wish I had been able to work through it sooner, but I’m also very glad that I worked it the way I did. Having gone through 42 and a half years of being in denial and trying to work through this stuff has given me a lot of experience.
Read Russom’s full statement to Pitchfork HERE.
But as LCD Soundsystem was set to go on tour to promote its comeback record, Russom said that she “could not imagine” spending the next year continuing to pretend to be someone that she’s not. “My body rejected it in the same way that it now utterly rejects going into a men’s bathroom or when somebody calls me ‘sir,’” she told me.
Russom said that her bandmates have been “really supportive” about her transition: “The general feeling in the group is that will make the band better.” Calling Murphy the “creative director” of LCD Soundsystem, she claimed that his approach to music is bringing together a group of performers with unique musical skillsets and allowing them to be inspired by each other. Since coming out, Russom has felt more connected on stage—both to her colleagues and to the music. She’s able to own the space in a new way. Performing “Call the Police” on the May 6 episode of Saturday Night Live, Russom’s joyful exuberance shined through. Dressed in a gray t-shirt, it’s hard not to smile as she rocks out behind the synthesizer.
“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.”