Joey Moses, class of 2020, is the first transgender freshman to receive the induction into the Thespian Society at Penn High School. This is his journey towards that. 

Penn Theater has been known for welcoming all students, regardless of their race, gender, or sexuality. Joey Moses, class of 2020, is one of the many that use theater as an outlet. On Tuesday, May 23rd, the Pennies will induct Moses into the theater committee, making him the first trans* person to ever be inducted (the asterisk signifies one word to identify many genders).

Moses uses theater as a way to be whoever he wants to be. “I can be someone completely different, in a good way,” the freshman thespian said. It’s a way for people to express their emotions without facing the repercussions of society. Theater knows no discrimination, everyone is welcome to come and share their passion.

The act of playing a character is not on his to-do list but works mostly crew and costumes.”In run crew, we’re kind of the silent heroes. If anything goes wrong and the actors come to us, it makes you feel very needed.” To join the Thespian Society, a student must participate in many events involving theater. “I participated in every theater thing I could,” Moses explains. “I did the haunted house, Kiss Me Kate, and Midsummer Night’s Dream.

For Joey Moses, friends had the most impact on his journey. “She [Melody Shimba] pushed me to do auditions… I would be pushed out of my comfort zone and I would be open to new things… I also had another friend that… would pull me into jobs.” His friends supported, pushed, and helped Moses become the worker he is today.

Theater award cabinet in front of the Orchestra room.
Theater award cabinet in front of the Orchestra room. | PNN

Gendered auditions have never been a problem in theater or Moses, “You can finally bring out… that character to speak through you.” Moses advises to audition for various characters of all genders and assures that no one will judge or question. “Being transgender shouldn’t limit you in any audition or anything on stage… Don’t let your gender hold you back. Let it free you.”

By Kevin McNulty

Kevin McNulty teaches English and Mass Media Studies at Penn High School. He advises the Penn News Network and manages the PNN Studio and news room. For more information, navigate your browser to