Rascal Flatts star forced to deny trans rumour sparked by online trolls

Joe Don Rooney smiling in a black and grey top.

Joe Don Rooney, country singer and former member of Grammy-winning band Rascal Flatts, has denied rumours that he is a trans woman.

In a lengthy post on Twitter/X on 3 January, his first post on social media in nearly a year, the 48-year-old musician addressed rumours that he is transitioning and explained his prolonged absence from public life.

“First off, I am alive,” he began the post. “There have been so many rumours and opinions thrown around about me – but I’m finally healthy and ready for the world. 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,” he added.

In 2023, radio DJs and online gossip duo Tony Randall and Kris Rochester, known as Tony & Kris, shared the rumour on their TikTok page, alleging that someone they knew personally was transitioning.

Tony & Kris repeated the claim several times, suggesting that “some people” in the industry had confirmed it. The person in question was later revealed to be Rooney, as reported by Queerty.

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After clearing up the online speculation and denying the transition rumour, Rooney used the rest of his post to address the “major detour” to his life and career that caused him to leave the public eye.

Rascal Flatts.
Joe Don Rooney (left) was a member of Grammy-winning country band Rascal Flatts. (Getty)

In September 2021, the singer crashed his car into a tree in Tennessee and was arrested for driving under the influence. In 2022, he plead guilty and was sentenced to a year in jail, though he only served two days. The rest of his sentence was suspended, and he was stripped of his driver’s liscence.

Following the crash, Rascal Flatts disbanded, and Rooney’s beauty queen wife Tiffany Fallon filed for divorce.

“I was drunk and I was so far gone with my life – I was completely out of control and finished with trying to fight the fears, depression and anxieties that had spun me out in a way I’ve never experienced before,” Rooney shared in his post.

“The pressures of my career and the many mistakes I made in regards to my home life, coupled with a lot of pain and trauma from my childhood and early on in my adult life, had become too much to bear,” he said, adding that his drinking had been “an issue for many years” and caused him to be a bad father, husband and bandmate.

The star added that the incident changed his life “forever” and has led to him being sober for almost 28 months.

“I never believed I could actually live my life without drinking,” he revealed. 

“I have new healthy boundaries for the first time in my life. Only positive, loving, caring and understanding people may enter.”

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