For the past four months, Against Me!'s Laura Jane Grace has worn a black jersey reading "GENDER IS OVER! IF YOU WANT IT" — a riff on the 1969 John Lennon–Yoko Ono slogan — at every show she's played with the band. Now, after displaying it proudly for about 60 nights, she's signed her jersey and donated it to the group that created it for a charity giveaway. For a suggested donation of $10–$15, fans can enter a contest to win the shirt that Grace rocked onstage. The money will go to queer nonprofit groups including the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, Ali Forney Center and Reclaim! "I can't think of a better thing for this shirt to go to," Grace tells Rolling Stone. "Fuck yeah!"
She first saw the Gender Is Over shirt earlier this year, when she noticed the way Speedy Ortiz's Sadie Dupuis hung it over her amp at shows. "The image and the statement on it really struck me," Grace says. "I was like, 'That's amazing. I want one of those.'" For the singer-guitarist, who came out as trans in a Rolling Stone profile three years ago, the slogan spoke directly to her experience. "It really resonated with where I'm at," she says. "Over the last three years, I've been on a roller coaster of gender — putting out a record, touring, doing interviews, constantly talking about myself and how I'm relating to gender. And personally, I've been dealing with new experiences as an out trans person. I got to the point where I felt like, 'Yes! I do not want to fucking think about gender! I just want to exist.'"
In June, Gender Is Over co-founder Marie McGwier brought a shirt to Grace before Against Me! played Brooklyn's Northside Festival. "I wore it at that show, and then I wore it at every show on from then," Grace says. "The blackness is killer to wear when you're playing shows in the summer. I was like, 'Oh, this is why athletes wear fucking jerseys, because they breathe really well and they dry off quickly and they don't stink the next day.' Then I started to wonder, 'Is that why Robert Smith wears hockey jerseys?'"
Grace's public support on tour this summer and fall has helped the Gender Is Over project sell 800 shirts to date, raising about $4,000 for charities including Trans Lifeline and TGI Justice (and that's before the giveaway that launched today). "I really got behind the campaign," Grace says. "Seeing that people were buying it because I was wearing it, and knowing the proceeds go to charities that I wholeheartedly support, I was like, 'Well, shit, I can literally wear a T-shirt onstage, and it'll raise money for a good cause — and I like the shirt?' That's a really easy way to decide what you're going to wear onstage each night when you're a person who really stresses about what they are going to wear onstage."
This month, after wrapping up a tour that took Against Me! across the U.S. and Europe — including triumphant performances on the main stages of the Reading and Leeds Festivals in England — Grace decided it was time to retire the shirt at last. "When Marie gave me the shirt, I didn't have my wallet on me, because I was about to go on stage," she says. "I was like, 'I promise, I'll get the money to you.' And then I flaked and flaked and flaked. So coming off from the road, it felt like the right thing to do, having not actually paid for this shirt, to give it back for charity. I want to karmically clean the slate for not initially donating for a shirt that I love so much."
The donation-based giveaway is now open, and will end at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on November 12th. Read more about it, or enter the contest, at Gender Is Over.