Gender is Over (If You Want It): BUST Interview

by Gabrielle Diekhoff

Recently, you may have seen some of your favorite artists and musicians rocking merch that loudly states “GENDER IS OVER” in bold white letters against a black mesh jersey. And, as I was, you might be wondering what the deal is with that. Where are these jerseys coming from? Who made them? What are they for? And most importantly…where can I get one??? So, I decided to do some intense research – AKA, I Googled it – in order to find out what all of the fuss was about. It turns out, the jerseys are repping a project called Gender is Over (If You Want It). Inspired by John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s War is Over (If You Want It) Campaign, the project is working to dismantle the heteronormative gender binary – one jersey at a time.

Intrigued and eager to learn more about it, I sat down with Marie McGwier, one of the co-creators of the campaign, for an interview. 

How did this project start?

Marie: The idea came about in December, 2014. Nina (my friend and the co-creator of this project), was at a show, experiencing some general gender-fueled angst, and they considered tweeting about it, but then thought it would make a good sticker – something a little more permanent than a tweet. So, since I’m a graphic designer, we teamed up to make it happen, and decided that it would be a really cool slogan to put on a tank top; it would be provocative, which is exactly what we wanted.

Can you expand on why you went with the tank top instead of the sticker?

Marie: Physical bodies are what people associate with gender. Every perception of someone’s gender is based on what genitals they have or don’t have, and that constant process of labeling is exhausting. So to put this on a body is our way of saying, “Enough is enough. Fucking stop.”

How did you decide on the black/white jersey design?

Marie: Well, when most people think about LGBTQ-related things, they think about bright colors and rainbows. But to be honest, the rainbow is less of a queer thing, and more of a gay thing – it’s less inclusive, if you know what I mean. So, we wanted to stray away from those classic gay stereotypes that mainstream culture has popularized, and black and white is the polar opposite of that, so it just made sense. Plus, the bold visual contrast really resonated with both of us. But, I think the style of the shirt – the mesh jersey – is more of a radical statement than the color. Because, if you think about it, sports are these really heteronormative, binary-based spaces. There’s this divide between girls’ and boys’ sports, and to put a statement like “GENDER IS OVER” on an article of clothing that is associated with athletics is really flipping the narrative.

How have you seen this project grow since it began?

Marie: It started small. Our first order was only 20 jerseys. And then, because of the digital community, those numbers began to grow. Orders went from 20, to 40, to 80, then up to 100, and at that point we were making money, so we had to decide what we wanted to do with that money. We had to decide where we wanted it to go, so we reached out to the queer community and asked them, and now the proceeds are going to organizations that work in support of trans & gender nonconforming people with special consideration for youth empowerment, homelessness, mental health, incarceration, and structural racism. We also give shirts to teenagers who can’t afford to buy them or don’t have the ability to buy them. I think one of my favorite parts about this project is that it’s grown organically. People see the shirts and it resonates with them, so they buy one, and it’s just this organic, continual process.

A lot of famous musicians have been rocking your jerseys lately, can you talk about that?

Marie: Yeah! The artist endorsements are really cool because they help expand the project organically like I mentioned. The project has been repped by artists like Sadie Dupuis (Speedy Ortiz), Miley Cyrus, Shamir, Laura Jane Grace, Told Slant, Eskimeaux, Florist, PWR BTTM, Hurray for the Riff Raff…The list is long. And humbling. 

Gender is OVer

What are your goals, both short-term and long-term, for this project?

Marie: Speaking short-term, we would love to put out some kind of physical, tangible message into the community – perhaps a book. We’d also love to host another benefit show this year, we had our first last year and it was really successful. I would say long-term goals include having some sort of physical space where people can gather, because as of now, the community is, for the most part, on the internet. What would be really ideal would be to have events and shows in spaces that aren’t in big cities, like in small towns where it’s more difficult to find a safe space for anyone who is queer-identifying. It’s also important that we continue to form relationships with the organizations that we donate our proceeds to, because those people do such incredible and inspiring work. And, of course, staying humble – that’s a long-term goal. 

You can learn more about the project on the Gender is Over (If You Want It) Website and on their Tumblr

Images from and Tumblr

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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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