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 their ideas 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. Mama Has a Mustache is a short, quirky animated documentary about identity and family outside of the traditional gender binary, as seen through children’s eyes.
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?
Jonathan Skurnik, Producer & Director (pronouns: he/him/his)
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.
Joel Baum, Senior Director, Professional Development (pronouns: he/him/his)
As a cisgender man, our binary model of gender should serve me well. Theoretically, it is literally designed around my experience. But like so many others, it has failed me. The expectations in every dimension of gender--to have particular physical attributes, to dress and act in rigidly masculine ways, to carry a sense of self that is "manly"--have resulted in a great deal of unhappiness and damage as I have sought to reach these imposed definitions of who I am supposed to be. I truly believe that a more gender inclusive world will liberate all of us, and am proud to play even a tiny role in that process.
Sally Rubin, Producer & Director (pronouns: any will do)
Sally Rubin is an Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker and tenured professor at Chapman University. She is the Director of the Netflix, Hulu, and PBS documentaries Deep Down, Life on the Line, The Last Mountain, and Hillbilly. She served as Producer and Editor on films that have aired on Frontline, HBO, and the Sundance Channel.
Connor Davis, Editor (pronouns: he/him/his)
Connor grew up on the central coast of California and studied documentary film in San Francisco. He booked his first job as an editor on a feature film and over the past 10 years his resume has grown immensely. Connor has built up credits on several national broadcast campaigns, hundreds of branded and documentary films, and has recently expanded into television. His clientele includes Budweiser, Patagonia, Etsy, Lululemon, Google, Microsoft, Canada Goose, Stitch-Fix, Dignity Health and more. When he’s not working, he’s trying to figure out a way to pay for his private pilot’s license.
Steve Horner, Composer (pronouns: he/him/his)
Multi award winning Composer Steve Horner writes and produces exceptional music in a diverse array of forms and genres. He recently created the score for the 2019 Oscar Nominated Animated Short "One Small Step" which completed an impressive, award winning festival run including two for Best Original Score. Additionally, his music has been heard in Film Trailers for HBO, Universal Pictures, Starz, Sony Pictures, Paramount, Lionsgate, Relativity Media and Netflix. Steve has also created custom music and sound design for: HBO, Hyundai Genesis, Verizon, Intel, Nokia, Boeing, NBC Universal, The FX Network, Target, AMC Theaters, Panda Express, Best Buy, Humminbird, Minnkota, Home Depot, Firefox, and many others.
Bennett Singer, Co-Producer (pronouns: he/him/his)
Bennett Singer is an award-winning producer/director/writer whose films have been screened at The Kennedy Center, The United Nations, The British Museum, and the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. His latest documentary, CURED, directed with Patrick Sammon, won a $50,000 award in the 2020 Library of Congress Lavine/Burns Prize for Film; it will air nationally on PBS Independent Lens series in October 2021. He previously co-produced and co-directed BROTHER OUTSIDER: THE LIFE OF BAYARD RUSTIN, a "potent and persuasive piece of historical rediscovery" (Los Angeles Times) that premiered at Sundance, aired nationally on PBS and Logo, and won more than 20 international awards.
Helen Mendoza, Co-Producer (pronouns: she/her/hers)
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, Associate Producer (pronouns: he/him/his)
Sam Berliner is a Bay Area-based filmmaker and animator best known for his engaging and accessible films about gender non-conformity. His award winning short films, Dating Sucks: A Genderqueer Misadventure, Genderbusters and Perception have screened all over the world. When not actively making films, Sam is the festival director of Translations: the Seattle Transgender Film Festival. He also gives presentations about gender at organizations and schools. He freelances as a camera assistant, still photographer, animator, producer and editor. Sam graduated in 2005 from Smith College with a BA in Film & Theatre and earned an MFA in Cinema from San Francisco State University in 2013.
Thank you to our extraordinary funders for making the Youth and Gender Media Project possible.