A Letter from LGBT Center Director, Erin Cross (she/her)

Erin Cross, LGBT Center Director

The only constant in life is change.
– Heraclitus

Friends – 

Recently when people discover I have been at the LGBT Center for 20+ years, they are amazed and ask how I have done it. My response is usually, “Change. Changing students, needs, campus situations, and societal views have enabled me to reinvent myself despite the Center’s mission staying the same. It is the only way to truly serve Penn’s LGBTQ+ communities well.”  2019 has been no different in that it was full of change for the Center, including but not limited to:

  • The departure of Associate Director Tiffany Thompson
  • A record number of Townsend Fund grants given for students making a gender transition
  • Release of the Center’s first Faculty Out List
  • Hiring and training a graduate student and alum Hector Kilgoe to catalog the Center’s Archives at the Kislak Center through the Schoenberg Archive and History Fund
  • Increased outreach to, and collaboration with, graduate and professional students
  • Opening of Penn’s first public all gender, multi-stall restroom in McNeil, with a few more slated to go live in summer 2020
  • For the first time ever, the Center worked with all 12 schools in some capacity
  • Assistance for students to go to conferences
  • (Soft) launch of our new ‘Alumni Out Loud’ series over Homecoming to better connect alumni with current students via their personal stories
  • More arts-focused and community collaborations

And these are only a few of our initiatives to ensure LGBTQ+ voices are heard, needs are met, and our Center continues to be a welcoming safe and brave space where everybody can bring their full selves.

One thing that has not changed, however, is my thanks.  Thank you to our on- and off-campus collaborators, work-study staff, and our professional staff (Malik, Sam, and Loran), but also my deepest thanks to YOU.  We could not do this vital, ever-changing work without you, our friends and supporters.  So, thank you again on behalf of the Center and all of Penn’s LGBTQ+ communities.  We forward to your continued support.

With gratitude and wishes for a wonderful 2020 ‘”

Faculty Out List

University of Pennsylvania logo with Pride Flag

On the last day of LGBT History Month, LGBT Center released Penn’s first-every Out List of university faculty and staff. As Malik Muhammad, LGBT Center Associate Director said, “They are amazing queer faculty who have decided to opt into being a visible advocate and support system for our LGBTQ+ communities! We recognize not all folks are at a place where they feel ready to come out for countless reasons: ALL are valid! There is a privilege that needs to be acknowledged for those who can, or are willing, to come out. No matter what, you will always have a place at Penn and the LGBT Center.”

# of Standing Faculty: 50

Professors: 12

Associate Professors: 17

Assistant Professors: 21

#  of Nonstanding Faculty: 31

# Faculty using non-cis pronouns: 1 (she/they)

# in named professorships: 7

Schools with the most out faculty (ranked):

  1. School of Arts and Sciences (23)
  2. Perelman School of Medicine (14)
  3. Weitzman School of Design (8)
  4. School of Veterinary Medicine (7)
  5. Graduate School of Education (6)
  6. Wharton School of Business (5)
  7. School of Social Policy and Practice (5)
  8. School of Nursing (4)
  9. Carey Law School (3)
  10. School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (3)
  11. Dental Medicine (2)
  12. Annenberg School of Communication (1)

SAS Departments Ranked:

  1. English: 13
  2. Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies (Program): 2
  3. Other Humanities and Social Sciences Departments: 7
    1. East Asian Languages and Civilizations: 1
    2. History of Art: 1
    3. Africana: 1
    4. Philosophy: 1
    5. Religious Studies: 1
    6. Archeology: 1
    7. History and Sociology of Science: 1
    8. Sciences: 1
      1. Chemistry: 1

Out Faculty by Gender:

Across Schools:

Men (44) vs Women (37)

Penn’s Out Faculty are 54% male

For Professors (12):

Men (9) vs Women (3)

Penn’s Out Faculty are 74% white

For Professors (12):

By School:

  1. School of Arts and Sciences

i.      Men (9) vs Women (14)

  1. Perelman School of Medicine

i.      Men (7) vs Women (7)

  1. Weitzman School of Design

i.      Men (6) vs Women (2)

  1. School of Veterinary Medicine

i.      Men (4) vs Women (3)

  1. Graduate School of Education

i.      Men (4) vs Women (2)

  1. Wharton School of Business

i.      Men (4) vs Women (1)

  1. School of Social Policy and Practice

i.      Men (2) vs Women (3)

  1. School of Nursing

i.      Men (2) vs Women (2)

  1. Carey Law School

i.      Men (2) vs Women (1)

  1. School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

i.      Men (3) vs Women (0)

  1. Dental Medicine

i.      Men (1) vs Women (1)

  1. Annenberg School of Communication

i.      Women (1)

Transgender Day of Remembrance, 2019


The transgender community often faces hate, discrimination, and violence merely by being their true, unapologetic selves. Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) on November 20th is a day where people across the nation, and now the world, honor, celebrate, and memorialize those who have been murdered as a result of anti-transgender violence.

This year, the LGBT Center’s main message was to introduce resistance and resiliency through action. On the week of November 17th-23rd, large banners with the names of the 24 individuals murdered in the United States were put up along Locust Walk. The goal was to bring awareness to the reality many transgender individuals, especially transgender women of color, face daily. On the day of TDOR, Locust Walk was utilized by many students, professors, staff members, and the general Penn community to show love and support to our transgender community at Penn, the United States, and the world. Every hour on the hour from 8 am t
o 8 pm, individuals read aloud the names of the fallen, beautiful souls, sometimes accompanied by original works or speeches, which called for direct action. The power in the number of individuals that supported this event shows the message of our work clearly: resistance and resilience.

We will not be the ones to fall silent when our community is harmed. The LGBT Center works to foster spaces that interrupt cis-patriarchal violence in the world. We, together, with love from our LGBT community, worked to show the Penn community the importance of TDOR. We wanted to make sure there was space to both grieve, yet celebrate these individuals. This year, we hope we have brought more attention to the violence in the transgender community and hope to see more action, resistance, and support. We will surely continue our efforts in the future to ensure everyone can be their best selves are without obstacles. For more information about Transgender Day of Remembrance, visit GLADD’s website.

Alumni Spotlight: Lisa Doi (she/her) C’13


Towards the end of my senior year, I reflected on what Penn had given me and contemplated my new relationship to the school – as an alumni and donor. So as I entered this new role, I thought a lot about why and how I want to give.

In terms of why: I want to support the best of my own college experience. Penn was defined by relationships, especially with friends, faculty, and staff. These relationship built spaces on campus where I knew I belonged and where, through that sense of belonging, I could excel. At the LGBT Center, I enjoyed having a space on campus where I could convene non-LGBT student groups, bring in peers who may not have otherwise come into the building, and connect them to the resources of the center. Above all, I valued the support I received from other students and staff, especially Erin Cross, Bob Schoenberg, and Rebecca Schept. These are the relationships that defined my Penn experience.

On to the how: in a university like Penn, I know I am not, and likely never will be, a major donor. Nevertheless, I want to give in a way that reflects my values and maximizes my impact. I could give unrestricted dollars or broadly to the Penn Fund, but giving to the LGBT Center makes me feel like my gift matters – because I know the kinds of staff, programs, and services my gift will support.

As a student, it is often hard to conceive of Penn after you’ve graduated, but it is the crucial work of the LGBT Center staff to make the Penn we experienced and the Penn that will come after us. When I was a student, the LGBT Center staff was in the early phases of making a gender-neutral restroom map and they were, as I remember it, essentially told it was impossible. Today there is a gender-neutral restroom map. These improvements, however large or small, are made because of the people who are at Penn for more than four years. Giving is how I continue to support their work.

Finally, I invite you to join me in donating directly to the LGBT Center at any amount. You can donate by going to: https://www.vpul.upenn.edu/lgbtc/makeagift.php