Transgender activist Janet Mock, spoken word group DarkMatter to come to Northwestern

Drew Gerber, Assistant Campus Editor

Transgender rights activist and author Janet Mock and spoken-word group DarkMatter will visit Northwestern this month as part of Queer and Trans Empowerment Month hosted by Multicultural Student Affairs.

A collaboration between Multicultural Student Affairs and the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications, Mock’s Oct. 13 keynote will be a moderated discussion at Cahn Auditorium, said Jordan Turner, assistant director of Multicultural Student Affairs. The event will be part of efforts by the office to bring greater visibility to the transgender community and start a dialogue on campus.

DarkMatter, an art and activist collaboration that performs spoken word with queer and trans South Asian themes, will be running a workshop on Oct. 25 that will focus on student activism. The group will also host a performance show later that evening.

Mock, author of The New York Times bestselling memoir “Redefining Realness,” agreed to speak after Multicultural Student Affairs reached out and expressed interest through an agency, Turner said. Turner said Mock expressed excitement through her agent about speaking at NU, especially given Multicultural Student Affairs’ partnership with Medill. Formerly a staff editor at, Mock has several connections within Medill, Turner said.

Turner said that Medill senior Bo-Won Suh applied and was selected to be the moderator at the keynote.

Multicultural Student Affairs kicked off Queer and Trans Empowerment Month on Oct. 1 with programming that aims to create an inclusive environment for the queer and trans communities.

In the past, Multicultural Student Affairs events were mostly lecture-based, but this year, organizers aimed to better engage the campus community through interactive events like discussions, Turner said. The goal is to host events that speak to the various identities of the audience and to get people talking on campus, Turner said.

Turner emphasized the importance of highlighting trans issues by hosting speakers such as transgender activist and actress Laverne Cox, who spoke on campus in April about her struggles with racism and transphobia.

“The trans community is visible, physically, but the struggles they face aren’t,” Turner said. “We need to speak to it.”

Correction: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this article used an incorrect pronoun when referring to Jordan Turner. Turner uses they, them, their pronouns. The Daily regrets the error. 

This article was updated Oct. 7 at 4 p.m. to clarify Jordan Turner’s comments.

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