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.
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
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, Director of Education at Gender Spectrum
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.
Connor Davis, Editor
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.
Steve Horner, Composer
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.
Bennett Singer, Co-Producer
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
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
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.
Thank you to our extraordinary funders for making the Youth and Gender Media Project possible.