No gender? No problem! gal-dem in conversation with artist Molly Adams
05 Apr 2016
Molly Adams is an artist who uses their work to spread awareness about social issues. One of their projects is No Gender. No Problem., an online platform with a main aim to start a conversation about gender fluidity. gal-dem spoke to Molly about the journey behind NG.NP., its blog and shop, and what they have in mind for the future.
gal-dem: Why did you set up No Gender. No Problem. in the first place?
Molly Adams: I set it up when I was at art school and I was in a really frustrated place where I wanted to make some art but I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. That coincided with some thoughts I was correlating about my gender identity. I used a lot of online resources, organisations, places like Mermaids UK, Everyone is Gay, YouTube videos and things like this, and I wanted to give back to them because of what they’d given me. I felt really passionate about this, so I just knocked up a t-shirt design with the tagline “No Gender. No Problem.” and was like “this is maybe a thing that could happen”.
So I just put the t-shirt out there by showing it to my friends and putting it on Tumblr. I didn’t know that it was going to get picked up in any kind of way. But weirdly Tumblr just blew it out of proportion. People were messaging me like “what are you doing?” and I was like “oh, this is a thing that’s happening now”.
I did some research into the space around gender identity, and this non-binary identity, and it was very clear that there needed to be someone else in this conversation. There are already loads of really cool people doing stuff like the magazine Beyond the Binary, the Non-binary Inclusion Project, and clothing company Refuse to Conform. I just wanted to be a part of the conversation but on a bigger scale, and using No Gender. No Problem. as a platform kind of began to make sense a few months after I’d been selling the T-shirts. Initially it was just a project to give back to the community, but then I realised that “maybe my voice could travel a bit further with this”. Very serendipitous!
What was the inspiration behind your logo?
I live next to a pine forest and it’s my favourite place. I was toying around with ideas, and there’s already a lot of places that have gendered symbols as their logos, or there’s colours. I really wanted to stay as far away from that as I could because so people would just look at a T-shirt with a really nice, accessible design. Everyone loves trees, trees are great. And I thought it could be a really nice way of linking the subject back to nature as well; we are all just human people living the way we want to. The last factor was that I wanted the text to be more obvious than anything else, to really get the message across.
How do you find writers for your blog?
I put out a lot of calls for non-binary and transgender writers via social media, and then I get submissions in. I think more or less everyone that has submitted has got a piece on the blog or a piece coming up to go on the blog. I want everyone’s voice to be shared. I think the blog pages are very good for that because it’s such raw, truthful writing coming from sometimes un-practiced or non-professional writers.
Other times I meet people in real life and I’m like “hey that’s a really cool story, do you want to write that up and maybe we can do something” and then they work together with my blog editor to come up with something if they are nervous about writing. It’s really nice actually.
How did you go about finding the people on your team?
That was a call-out again, a few months into the project I realised I couldn’t do it all on my own, so I set up a “get involved” page on my website. I was contacted by a few people, jumped on Skype with them just to see whether they shared my ethos, my values, my vision for the project. There were a few people that cropped up that I had to get on board because they were just so passionate about it. The beauty of it is that because it’s online, the team are from all over the world, so I’m getting all of these different perspectives. I love the internet!
We feel the same way about gal-dem.com! What would you say NG.NP.’s stance is on asking people about their preferred pronouns? Do you think that you should just ask everyone, is there a certain way to approach it so it doesn’t seem rude or aggressive?
I’ve been in both situations myself. I’ve had people ask very nicely about my pronouns. I’ve also had others assume a pronoun, and then backtrack when they realise they’ve got it wrong, and asking in a forceful way, which is not very nice.
The stance that we take on it is that gender should never be assumed, in which case you should always ask for pronouns. That’s something we encourage because misgendering is such a dangerous thing, and to avoid that as much as we can is of an utmost priority. Asking for pronouns is such a good way to get an insight into how someone wants to be seen, especially as so many assumptions are based on your personal appearance. I’m in the middle of writing a blog post about how pronouns should be used and should be asked, because too many times people ignore it or people use problematic language.