The Australian trio The Axis of Awesome are as comfortable performing in music venues as they are comedy festivals, with viral hits like “ Four Chords” and “ Rage of Thrones.” Musicians Jordan Raskopoulos, Lee Naimo, and Benny Davis have been performing hilariously geeky music since 2006, and they will continue only now, there’ll be a minor change in the line-up. Raskopoulos will be keeping her name, but not her gender: She recently came out as a transgender woman.
Raskopoulos, who spoke about her transition via Skype chat, had lived as a man for over thirty years before she revealed her new status (which you can see in the video, above). “Whilst the feelings have always been there, I’ve always actively or passively repressed them,” she said. However, before embarking on a three-month European tour with The Axis of Awesome, Raskopoulos met a transgender woman when she appeared on the television show Back Seat Drivers. “I think that might have been a little bit of a catalyst,” she said.
“The issue was in front of my mind whilst I was three months in the back of a tour van, alone with my own thoughts and feelings—and the Internet.” It was then she told herself, “This is a thing that is not going away. This is serious, this is real, and you need to take care of it.”
Before making her transition, Raskopolous had worried about the reactions of friends and fans. And although some comments were unkind, “I think the big thing about that is no one has said anything that I didn’t say to myself at some point,” she said. But for the most part, her experience has been a positive one. “I’ve dealt with that shame for thirty-two years, and it seems I didn’t really need to. My friends and fans have all stuck by me. I’m totally happy with my voice and body, and I’m comfortable.”
However, revealing a shift in gender is not without risks: According to Morgane Oger, Trans Alliance Society Chair, “[Raskopoulos] is taking a big chance. Coming out when you work in a creative, public-facing context is financially risky, as people will be more likely to turn on you. But it’s one more person to pave the road [to coming out as trans] professionally, and it makes it easier for the next person, and that’s really important.”
Raskopoulos said, “I was wary of [the financial risk] when I started to transition. I used to do a lot of work in advertising as in actor. I’ve been on many a beer commercial, and it seems that the [role of] ‘fat, bearded man’ is no longer an option with me. But I’m in a fortunate position where I create my own work. A big part of transition was taking hold of my own work and my own brand and not giving people the opportunity to reject me, because I was in control.”
In addition to The Axis of Awesome, Raskopolous is the creative director and executive producer of Insert Coin, a sketch comedy series for gamers. She has her own production company as well.
And as for The Axis of Awesome, Raskopolous’ transition has informed their most recent album, Viva La Vida Loca Las Vegas, in songs like “Transgender Dysphoria Blues.” “We also have a series of parody songs with gender neutral pronounces, a non-binary medley.” So instead of, “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon,” they sing, “Child, You’ll Be an Adult Soon.”
Raskopolous said, “For me, continuity is such a big part of my transition story. I’ve kept my name, I’ve kept my career, I sing in the same voice, and we’re continuing as The Axis of Awesome. The same audience is coming along, and they’re enjoy the show for the same reason they always did, which is that we sing funny songs.”
And that’s awesome.