Earlier this month, Rolling Stone published a piece on Against Me! singer Laura Jane Grace that was accompanied by a photo of Grace lying naked from the waist up in a bathtub. Though not the first time a famous woman has been photographed topless for the magazine, it might just be the first time the woman’s nipples were unobstructed or uncensored.
But this doesn’t appear to have been a progressive, “free the nipple”-like change to Rolling Stone’s nudity policy. In a Facebook post published Wednesday afternoon, Grace’s ex-wife Heather Gabel suggested the magazine decided not to censor the nipples because they belong to a transgender woman.
Gabel begins by alleging that writer Alex Morris called her “the day before” filing her profile to do some fact-checking. But after reading the finished piece, Gabel writes that she was “disappointed to see that it focused on how [Grace’s] transition had ruined her life, and that us splitting up was a result of that transition.” Gabel says she “plainly” told Morris that this was “not the case.”
Why do I care what a bunch of other people reading the article think? Because it’s sensational hetero drama that I don’t want to be even an unwilling party to in print. Because us being together or not being together is not the story, because one day my daughter will be reading this one sided bullshit and that really upsets me.
But Gabel’s “biggest problem” with the piece, she writes, is what she called its “gross misrepresentation of [Laura June’s] gender identity.”
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 fucked up. 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.
Gabel says she reached out to Rolling Stone to ask about the photo (she includes the full message in her Facebook post), but adds that she has received no response. (Jezebel has contacted a representative for the magazine and will update if we hear back.)
“Believe me, I want everyone’s tits out,” she writes at the end of her post. “I am in no way supporting the idea that censorship of women’s nipples is ok at all, but since Rolling Stone censors women’s nipples the photo should have looked a little more like this.”
Underneath, she included the photo of Grace from Morris’s piece, with black stars in the center of her breasts. Now that looks like something you’d see in Rolling Stone.