We tell stories about young people fighting to be true to themselves.
At the Youth and Gender Media Project, we believe all young people should be encouraged to be themselves, free from the fear of bullying or discouragement. Our mission is to support educators, families and youth who want to create inclusive communities by providing them with ground-breaking videos and curricula about gender expansive youth. Our films open minds and hearts, and invite viewers to examine and challenge everything they thought they knew about young people and their relationships to gender. Our ultimate vision is to create a world where all people are free to express themselves fully and are celebrated for who they really are.
What is the Youth and Gender Media Project?
Founded by award-winning filmmaker and media activist Jonathan Skurnik, The Youth and Gender Media Project produces short films and curricula that capture the diversity and complexity of young people who are questioning the binary (male/female) concept of gender.
In The Family Journey: Raising Gender Nonconforming Children family members invite you into their transformation from denial to acceptance, and eventually celebration of their courageous children. I’m Just Anneke tells the story of a gender-fluid twelve-year-old girl who’s taking hormone blockers to delay puberty while she decides if she wants to be male, female, or somewhere in-between when she grows up. Becoming Johanna tells the story of a sixteen–year–old transgender Latina living in Los Angeles, who is taken into foster care when her religious, immigrant mother refuses to accept her transition to a young woman. Creating Gender Inclusive Schools provides a behind-the-scenes look at a public elementary school that trains their entire school community—students, teachers, parents and staff—about gender, inclusion, stereotyping, and bullying.
Our films introduce profoundly new concepts, like the idea that even a young child can be transgender and the new and still rare use of hormone blockers to delay puberty. Universal themes like family acceptance, being true to one’s self, coming of age, the power of community, and the importance of tolerance and love make these films accessible and deeply moving, even to people who may be resistant to the idea of transgender youth.
In collaboration with our outreach partner Gender Spectrum, as well as several other non-profits, we are dedicated to creating safe and inclusive communities for all children, regardless of their gender expression.
Who is the Youth and Gender Media Project?
Producer & Director
Filmmaker and educator Jonathan Skurnik was a gender expansive child who loved to play with both dollhouses and Hot Wheels, wear pants and dresses. Like any child, he wanted it all! Then he started to get teased and bullied and gave up "girly" things. In the early 2000s Jonathan read about children who were gender creative and transgender and were living in communities that supported them. These children and their families were doing what he hadn’t been able to do as a child. So Jonathan created the Youth and Gender Media Project, a series of short films about these modern day heroes, which are screened in schools throughout the country to make the world safe for all flavors of gender identity and expression.
Helen Mendoza is an award-winning producer whose broad experience spans film, television, theater, music and the Internet. Helen co-produced the documentary, “For The Bible Tells Me So,” which follows five conservative Christian families who must reconcile their faith-based beliefs with the reality of their children’s homosexuality. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2007 and among its awards, received the Kathleen Bryan Edwards Award for Human Rights at the Full Frame Documentary Festival. Helen currently lives in Los Angeles with her family. Helen has a keen and very personal understanding of the subject from her own childhood as well as being the mother of a gender fluid child.
Sam Berliner holds an MFA in Cinema from San Francisco State University and a BA in Film and Theatre from Smith College, and is the Festival Director of Translations: The Seattle Transgender Film Festival. As a genderqueer/trans/ queer filmmaker, his three recent films provide a positive voice for trans, genderqueer, androgynous and gender-fluid folks, documenting our history, serving as a call to action to be recognized and respected by society, and urging our culture to evolve. His award-winning films have screened at over 100 film festivals around the world and are distributed by CFMDC and Frameline Voices. www.datingsucksmovie.com www.genderbusters.com.
Dr. Patrick Rock
Director of Education
An experienced educator, Dr. Patrick Rock is dedicated to raising awareness of transgender and gender-expansive youth in formal as well as informal educational contexts. In addition to his work at the Youth and Gender Media Project, Patrick has trained crisis counselors for LGBT youth at the Trevor Project, taught Developmental, Social and Educational Psychology courses at UCLA and The American Jewish University and published papers in major Developmental Psychology journals. Patrick draws on his years teaching students of a wide range of ages and backgrounds to create lessons that both engage and inform, presenting films, discussions, and activities that contain critical information on the experiences and needs of gender-diverse youth. In 2014, Patrick was honored at Barrack Hebrew Academy for contributions to LGBT Jewish youth with the dedication of the school’s first gender neutral bathroom in his name. Patrick graduated from Swarthmore College with Highest Honors in 2009 and earned his doctorate in Social Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles, in 2016.
Connor Davis is a Los Angeles based film editor. He began working as an editor in 2005 and has since worked on a wide variety of projects shot all over the world including commercials, trailers, documentaries, and a feature film. Connor loves working in all genres of film but he is most passionate about documentaries. He believes these types of films possess great power to influence audiences and inspire change.
Director of Education & Training at Gender Spectrum
Working with schools, medical professionals, therapists, universities and other organizations, Joel facilitates trainings, conducts workshops, develops curriculum, consults with parents and professionals, and provides resources in service of a more compassionate understanding of the complexity of gender. Joel began his career as an award-winning middle school science teacher and school administrator, and more recently served as a district administrator in Oakland, California. Joel is also a professor of Educational Leadership at California State University, East Bay where he has developed two distinct administrative credential programs.