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Rascal Flatts' Joe Don Rooney has nothing against the community, but says he isn't trans

Joe Don Rooney
Debby Wong / Shutterstock

Rascal Flatts guitarist Joe Don Rooney has broken his silence in the public eye by addressing rumors claiming that he is transgender and transitioning.

Rascal Flatts guitarist Joe Don Rooney is making some big health changes — but no, that doesn't include gender transition.

The country musician took to social media after a "couple years" of avoiding public engagement to "set the record straight" on rumors that have been circulating about him in his absence, including one that speculated he is actually a transgender woman and has been secretly transitioning.

“First off, I am alive! There have been so many rumors and opinions thrown around about me — but I am finally healthy and ready for the world," he recently wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. "And NO, I’m not transitioning to be a woman. That thought has never entered my mind. Nothing against the trans community whatsoever but I needed to set the record straight.”

Rooney has kept out of the public eye since a drunk driving accident nearly claimed his life in 2019. He was later arrested and charged with driving under the influence, and spent a brief period in jail. The guitarist continued to say he "was drunk and so far gone with my life" when he crashed his car, and "about killed myself."

"Luckily nobody else was involved and I didn’t injure or kill anyone. I could literally be in a federal prison for life right now. That is the reality of what my life had become," he said. "That event led me to treatment for my alcoholism."

Rooney said he initially "didn't want to stay" in treatment out of shame, explaining: "I was ashamed of myself. I was so full of fear and guilt that it took me all of the those four months to really start understanding treatment."

However, after receiving treatment, he said that his "life has been changed forever." Now 28 months sober, Rooney said he has set "new healthy boundaries for the first time in my life," and intends to surround himself with "positive, loving, caring and understanding" people.

"Here’s to making the best of 2024 and living our most healthiest, happiest and goal oriented lives ever!!" he concluded.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, SAMHSA's National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year service for those facing mental and/or substance use disorders, and can help locate treatment near you.

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Ryan Adamczeski

Ryan is a staff writer at the Advocate, and a graduate of New York University Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing, with a focus in television writing and comedy. She first became a published author at the age of 15 with her YA novel 'Someone Else's Stars', and is now a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. In her free time, Ryan likes watching New York Rangers hockey, listening to the Beach Boys, and practicing witchcraft.
Ryan is a staff writer at the Advocate, and a graduate of New York University Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing, with a focus in television writing and comedy. She first became a published author at the age of 15 with her YA novel 'Someone Else's Stars', and is now a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. In her free time, Ryan likes watching New York Rangers hockey, listening to the Beach Boys, and practicing witchcraft.