MUSIC is central to Jordan Raskopoulos’ life. She is, after all, the lead singer of award-winning music comedy trio Axis of Awesome.
But a few years ago, music was about to play a much more critical role in a new chapter in her life. After years of living with gender dysphoria, Raskopoulos realised she was trans and made the decision to transition, to finally present as her true gender.
“I had a bunch of songs by Against Me! – their lead singer is trans and many of the songs reflect her experience.
“But I also found that songs about change or songs about a boy longing for a girl were also comforting.”
Raskopoulos credits Mark Ronson’s cover of Apply Some Pressure by Maximo Park as being especially important. With lyrics like “behind your veil I found the body underneath and I hope that I am still alive next year/You know that I would love to see you in that dress”, it’s easy to understand how they would speak to a person who was struggling with their gender identity.
Raskopoulos is one of Australia’s most recognised comedians who has appeared on the The Ronnie Johns Half Hour Show, Thank God You’re Here and the comedy website for video gamers, Insert Coin. Axis of Awesome has released six albums, has millions of views on their YouTube channel and are veteran performers at some of the world’s most popular comedy festivals.
The 34-year-old comedian famously came out in a video on Axis of Awesome’s Facebook page titled What Happened to Jordan’s Beard? in February this year. It has since racked up almost 300,000 views.
“I was given some advice before coming out – to do it in a way that people knew me and we do funny videos, so I made a funny video,” she says.
Before coming out publicly she wrote some articles under a pseudonym for the website Junkee in 2015 about her transitioning experience, only a few months after coming out to her family and friends in late 2014.
“I had a series of comings out. I came out to the people closest to me in person, one at a time,” she says.
“The hardest thing about coming out as trans is that you also need to do a bit of educating during the process. So not only did I need to get over the emotions and nerves I also had to field a barrage of questions and explain that I wasn’t a cross-dresser or a drag queen.
“In the end I composed a FAQ (frequently asked questions) and emailed it to people after having the talk. Each step has been very relieving. Once that final video went out all the frustration and anxiety that had gone hand in hand with being closeted started to melt away.”
Raskopoulos describes feeling exhausted after her coming out video went viral and the media attention that followed. In the video she asked people “not to be a dickhead” about her news and said people have been supportive.
Finally coming out was a relief for Raskopoulos who says it is much better ‘on the other side’.
“(I’m) experiencing the dysphoria less and less. A lot of people don’t seem to understand that there’s a physical sensation that comes from being unable to express your gender or feeling that your body isn’t true to it,” she explains.
“It’s an awful feeling of despair. It’s not completely gone but I feel it less and less especially since there’s now a smiley girl looking back it me through the mirror instead of that sad hairy man.”
Determined to get rid of that hairy man, Raskopoulos decided to get healthy and making music again was central to her mission.
“When I decided to transition I was very overweight and unhealthy. I guess I’d felt that if I’d taken care of myself better I’d still have a man’s body that I hated, so I may as well eat all the cakes,” she says.
“When I decided to transition I was motivated to have a fit woman’s body. So I built a playlist of songs to motivate me and started running, a lot.
“I lost a bunch of weight and was able to run in the 14km City to Surf.”
Next up for Raskopoulos and Axis of Awesome is another run at the Edinburgh Comedy Festival, but most importantly for the comedian, it’s enjoying ‘the weight that has come off her shoulders’ since starting her transition.
“Transition can be hard, but it’s better to be yourself than to carry on pretending,” she says.