“This is my fifth decade being alive, and in each of those decades, there’s been a time where I’ve tried to say, ‘Hey, I think I’m transgender!'” Russom, who still prefers to go by Gavin, said.
She said she had always identified along the feminine spectrum, and recounted a particular instance where she wore black-and-white saddle shoes to school as a young child, not considering that they were intended for girls, and faced taunting from her classmates. The queer dance scene in New York, where she moved in 1997, provided a sense of “boundarylessness” for her and a safe haven for queer kids during the AIDS epidemic and first Bush era.
After spending five years in Berlin, Russom relocated back to New York, where she joined LCD Soundsystem to work on “This Is Happening,” which was set to be the group’s last album. The group staged a comeback in 2015, however, and in 2016 announced plans to release a new album and go on an expanded tour in the next year. At that point, Russom decided she couldn’t contain her identity any longer.
“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 said.
She added that LCD Soundsystem has been supportive of her transition and that she feels more connected to both the music and her colleagues since coming out. Russom added she still struggles with internalized transphobia and the fears that come with being a trans woman in a society that does not fully accept the identity.
“I am someone who has spoken out on both women’s rights and trans rights for a long time,” Russom said, “but when I started to transition myself, that was one of the most shocking things. I’m carrying so many of these things around with me. That’s been challenging to work through — having those preconditioned societal ideas of what transgender women can do.”
She also said she hopes to provide a platform for trans women and inspire those who may not yet be comfortable with their identities the same way so many other trans woman inspired her.
Russom will be performing a DJ set for the first time as an out trans woman at an event for trans feminine women at Femmes’ Room in Chicago. LCD Soundsystem will be headlining this weekend’s Pitchfork Music Festival.