Penn student org.’s annual trans and genderqueer open mic

Penn’s student-run organization Penn Non-Cis will host its annual open mic night GenderTalk on Friday, Nov. 15 at the campus LGBT Center. This beloved open mic focuses on transgender and genderqueer voices, but cisgender people are welcome to perform provided their piece focuses on gender-related subject matter. 

Similar to many open mic nights, GenderTalk performances usually encompass spoken word poetry, stories and music, even featuring songs from local indie bands. However, some previous performances have deviated from the typical fare. 

“We have had some more avant-garde acts before where one year someone came up on stage and read their Facebook feed for 10 minutes,” said Amber Auslander, Internal Chair of Penn Non-Cis. “It really is whatever people want to bring to the table.” 

Additionally, participants who wish to have their pieces heard but do not want to perform them can have them read by a member of the Penn Non-Cis board who identifies similarly with the participant. 

Penn Non-Cis serves Penn’s transgender and genderqueer students, staff and others who identify as non-cisgender in the wider community.  

“Our goal is to make a tangible difference in the Penn community which is more conscious and inclusive of gender identity and expression,” according to the Penn Non-Cis website. The group accomplishes this in part by raising awareness, hosting events, educating their fellow Penn students and faculty, and creating a safe space.

Auslander, a senior at Penn studying psychology, has taken part in planning GenderTalk since their freshman year, when they first became involved in Penn Non-Cis. They currently host the event and have performed in the past. 

Though most Penn Non-Cis events usually average about 10 people, GenderTalk tends to draw 50 or 60, Auslander mentioned. In addition to Penn students, people from the larger Philly community attend and participate. Since its inception roughly six years ago, GenderTalk has continued to foster a sense of community and evoke deeper ways of thinking and talking about transgender and genderqueer experiences.  

“When we have cisgender people in the audience who are coming to support their friends, or maybe perform their own piece, listening to how we all have these experiences that in their own ways tend to align with each other, really brings forth a sense of community that feels much more tangible whenever we host GenderTalk,” Auslander said. 

GenderTalk will take place at 6 p.m. in the Goodhand Room of the LGBT Center. Refreshments will be provided, and gender-neutral restrooms are on site. Those who wish to participate can sign up through the organization’s event page on Facebook.