Tom Petty’s Last Tour Featured a Small Nod to Trans Rights

On Monday, October 2nd, music fans were devastated to hear about the untimely passing of rock sensation, Tom Petty at the age of 66.

In April, Petty and the Heartbreakers embarked on the Retrospective Summer Tour, a tour that held the intent of celebrating their 40th anniversary together. At every show across the world, the band performed their 1976 classic, “American Girl”, and each time, it only made sense that the band projected a tribute that consisted of several photos of American women. Yet, Petty took a stand in support of the transgender community when he included an image of American actress Alexis Arquette.

Alexis, an activist in the transgender community, died at the age of 47 from complications of HIV/AIDS in 2016. AIDS, or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, is a disease caused by an infection with HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus - a virus people can live for many years with before developing the more serious AIDS condition. HIV destroys the essential immune cells your body needs to fight off infections and without treatment, the fight becomes harder; however, it is not the HIV/AIDS virus that kills a person, but illnesses that take advantage of the weak immune system the body has due to the virus. It was reported shortly after Alexis passed that she had an inoperable tumor that had developed an infection that traveled throughout her body. 

Petty wasn’t known to be very political with his artistry, but the severity of presenting Alexis as one of the many American women on stage every night reached its peak on July 26th in New York - the same day that Donald Trump announced his very controversial plan to ban transgender service members from the military via Twitter. A move that made headlines in publications like Billboard and The New York Post, in addition to receiving much admiration from Alexis’s brother, David Arquette.

The world will definitely miss the kindhearted legend.