Life of Agony’s Mina Caputo on Her Struggles, Triumphs Being Transgender in Heavy Metal
In July of 2011, Life of Agony vocalist Keith Caputo shocked the music world by announcing plans to transition from male to female. Now known as Mina Caputo, the musician dealt with a huge backlash from the heavy metal community across message boards and news forums after word got out about her plans. “I got a lot of grief for it, but it was nothing compared to the years of pain I went through not being open about the way I felt inside,” Caputo, 38, told Noisecreep during a recent phone chat from her home in Brooklyn, N.Y.
The singer says although it’s been less than a year since her huge announcement, she’s been preparing for her transformation most of her life. “I remember being really young and already having this other side of my life where I lived as a girl,” Caputo says. “This happened before I even hit puberty. In my teen years, the feelings I was having got stronger, and I kept it hidden to the outside world. It was painful. I never felt like I truly fit in with my family or the guys in my neighborhood, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on why that was. I grew up in the ’80s, and information about being transgender and the way I feeling just wasn’t out there. Or at least, it wasn’t that easy to find. I knew I didn’t feel like a boy, and that made me extremely uncomfortable.”
Watch Mina Caputo’s “Silver Candy” Video
Noisecreep asked the vocalist, who has also released four solo albums outside of her work with Life of Agony, if growing up in a tough Brooklyn neighborhood made her inner-struggle that much harder.
“I was around, what John Lennon would have called ‘working class heroes,’ and I don’t have a problem with guys like that,” Caputo says. “I don’t detest masculinity or testosterone. I know I’ve opened up a can of worms telling everyone about this stuff and my story, but this is more about humanity than gender. I feel like I’m bigger than gender. I feel gender-less. I know it’s confusing, because most people can’t think outside of the box. Society wants to think of males on side and females on the other. But there’s more to it than just that.”
In 1989, at the age of 16, Caputo co-founded Life of Agony. The band would go on to sign with Roadrunner Records and become one of the most influential metal acts of the ’90s, but the singer didn’t always feel secure within that community either.
“The majority of our fans have always been male, and I’ve experienced a lot of close-mindedness in the metal world,” Caputo says. “You know – a lot of people that just don’t know what’s going on. What I want those people to know is that I’m a beautiful human being. Don’t get me wrong — I’ve had a lot of support [in the metal scene], but there has also been a lot of rejection and criticism about my life.”
Despite her inner-conflicts, Caputo still partook in the hedonistic lifestyle one would expect a touring metal god to live. “I’ve had promiscuous sex with the most beautiful girls in the world,” the singer says. “I’m talking about the women most men dream of being with. I can’t even begin to tell you about that. I’ve lived that life and it was a lot of fun, but it wasn’t enough for me. It wasn’t my heart. I was still in so much pain. I’m so much happier now and want to share this with everyone.”
Stay tuned for the second part of Noisecreep’s exclusive interview with Caputo coming soon. For more information on her music and appearances, head over to www.MinaCaputo.com.
Check Out a Mina Caputo Photo Gallery by Jeremy Saffer