Josephine Kearns (she/her) is a dramaturg, educator, and theatre consultant specializing in transgender, queer, and intersex issues. She has worked with Kansas City Rep, Shaw Festival Theatre, Fifth Ave. Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, TimeLine Theatre, and Northwestern University, among others, and is currently the gender consultant for the Broadway development of the new musical STU FOR SILVERTON (prod. Diana DiMenna).

A lifelong theatre artist and former educator, Josephine also conducts in-depth education sessions on topics of gender and inclusivity for schools, hospitals, businesses, arts organizations, nonprofits, and more. She has worked as a program coordinator for the gender program at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago; she serves as a gender consultant for businesses with Trans Focus; she supported Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in making a more gender- and queer-inclusive curriculum; and she has contributed to gender policies for a number of public institutions, including Chicago Public Schools and the State of Illinois.

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Few theatre companies are equipped to sensitively handle shows with trans, intersex, or queer themes. While diversifying casting is important, in isolation it can leave actors in tough positions. A gender consultant:

  • Allows trans/queer actors to focus on acting, not educating

  • Provides space & safety for these actors (who often perform scenes related to their personal trauma) to do their best work

  • Ensures internal and external communications are handled respectfully

  • Gives shows space to tell their most truthful, impactful stories

What do I do as gender consultant?

  • Script consultation

  • Gender sensitivity trainings for staff, cast, & production team

  • Serve as part of core artistic team for auditions, rehearsals, design meetings, etc.

  • Rehearsal room support – part expert associate director, part support for trans/queer actors (with goals similar to intimacy design)

  • Marketing/PR consultation, crafting language for press releases, grants, casting notices, etc.

  • Guidance for company management and front of house to ensure inclusive spaces

  • Written content for programs, lobby displays, blogs, etc.

“Josephine is bright, clever, interesting, and really funny! Loved hearing everything that was taught today. I could listen to this topic for several more hours.”

“She made us feel comfortable asking questions.”

“Informational, direct, unashamed, and authentic.”
— anonymous feedback from ‘Gender 101’ training sessions
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I am an experienced facilitator and have provided over 100 training sessions around issues of gender identity for schools, medical institutions, arts organizations, businesses, and more. My basic sessions are:

Gender 101

Ideally a 90- to 120-minute session for a group of 15-100. This session covers basic terminology around issues of gender identity, an overview of issues pertinent to transgender and intersex communities, recommendations for actionable steps tailored to the needs of the organization, and time for questions and conversation. Participants leave with a basic understanding of trans and intersex needs and a concrete list of ways to improve their organization’s approach to these populations.

Gender 201

Ideally a 4-6 hour session for a group of 10-25. Gender 201 is a deeper dive into the topics of Gender 101, for those who already have a baseline understanding and want the tools to become community leaders around these issues. This session focuses more heavily on group participation and in-depth conversation.

If you have questions or ideas for a different type of session, I would be excited to discuss them. Please reach out!

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Boy at TimeLine Theatre Company
by Anna Ziegler, directed by Damon Kiely

“A powerful and timely play.”  –Chicago Theater Beat

“Theater as a call to action, conversation, and empathy.”  –PerformInk

At TimeLine, dramaturgy work includes writing extensive program content and planning an immersive lobby installation in addition to typical dramaturg responsibilities. For this project I was also lucky enough to travel to the Kinsey Institute Library in Bloomington, IN, where the personal files of Dr. John Money are archived, as part of my research. The research summaries I wrote can be viewed here:

For the cast and production team: Boy Actor Packet

For the audience: Boy “Backstory” program

I also gave a radio interview about the show for Out Chicago, which can be found here(segment starts at 1:09).

— contact —

For trainings and general inquiries please reach out directly:

Theatre Representation:
Helen Schultz, Abrams Artists Agency

Chicago-based, available for travel