A Community Advisory Board (CAB) of trans people from across the racial, cultural, economic, and professional spectrum will help make creative decisions and give input. The CAB will include representatives from partner organizations (GLADD, TOHP, Lambda Legal, Black Trans Man Inc., etc.). These committed people will assist in outreach and engagement.
Half of the production team will be transgender community members with connections to diverse communities.
A mixed gender group of Media Mentors will provide feedback at key points in the production process, making themselves available for consultation by members of the production team. Media Mentor will both help ensure technical high quality and also help strengthen video making know-how in the transgender community.
Dezjorn resides in Muskego, WI, USA. Started modeling at just 6 months old for top children's brands around the nation and winning national titles. He began his physical transition April 2014; shortly after the well known Barneys New York campaign, which featured 17 transgender models. This was the first publishment he had as a transman. With international coverage Dezjorn has been featured in many articles and celebrity shoots all while attending school. With modeling as his first passion, Dezjorn graduated from Marquette University in 2013 with a degree in Criminology, Law Studies and Sociology. He also holds a paralegal diploma, apart of the American Bar Association and attends Washington University School of Law. Dezjorn now is managed by the world's first transgender-specific agency; Transcendence Icon Company in New York, NY. Aside from modeling and furthering his education, Dezjorn started his own clothing business "I am here, I am he LLC" to effectively bring awareness to the transgender community with special focus on transmales and transmen of color through education, empowerment and inspiration. His business hosts an annual surgery fund, laptop scholarship, FTM essesentials donation program, and mentoring.
In shape-shifting, through the arts and social circles, I aspire to bring those who aren’t usually heard to the table. I raise these questions: How can we all utilize our artistic practice to challenge the formulas of privilege? How can creative artists and decision makers challenge their infrastructure to build a new nation of theatre? ...In my Trans* /two-spirit communities, we can use theatremaking tools to express, to heal, to celebrate, and to tell our stories on stages. There is a teaching I received when I was given a sacred hoop dance. It was that we are all connected in this great circle of life. The symbol of the hoop is important because it unifies all living things. In a circle there are no corners in which to hide, and in this circle unifying all living things, we must stand next to and across from each other as equals. Healing, celebrating, telling together, though our stories differ. A new nation of theatre.
Tiommi Luckett is a transgender woman, born and raised in Helena, AR. A graduate the University of Arkansas, Luckett has lived in Little Rock for a decade. Co-Director of the Arkansas Transgender Equality Coalition, she advocates for the liberation of transgender & GNC people prioritizing the decriminalization of HIV, decriminalization of survival sex work, affordable housing for trans-identified individuals, equal opportunity employment, comprehensive healthcare and promoting awareness of HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. Luckett works with HRC locally. Nationally she works with Positively Trans under the tutelage of the Transgender Law Center, blogs for A Girl Like Me, is a CAB member of The Well Project, sits on the Steering Committee of the US PLHIV Caucus, and is part of Positive Women’s Network-USA.
Z Shane Zaldivar
Storyteller, North Carolina
While in College and the United States Marine Corps, Z challenged the oppression of LGBT folks in Uniform. After being expelled from the military with an honorable discharge for being LGBT, Z began to develop a political analysis when working with the Center for Artistic Revolution, sharing his story and advocating for the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
Z’s been an advocate for more than 15 years working to build community, connect trans people to one another, and mobilize his various communities (southerners, veterans, and people of color) to advocate for change. Z has travelled doing public speaking on intersectionality and the South at Roots Camp, LGBT in the South and, Philadelphia Trans Health Conference. He lives in North Carolina where he’s a leader in the movement fighting HB2 and in his local trans people of color community. Z is the Hotline Program Director for Trans Lifeline, a peer to peer resource and support line for the transgender community.
Pérez is an oral historian, educator, filmmaker, and community organizer who founded the Transgender Oral History Project in 2007. He created multimedia historical exhibit about transgender activism in 2009 that he’s installed at colleges and universities including Iowa University (2013), University of Vermont (2009), Marlboro College (2009), and University of Illinois Chicago (2012). Andre has presented workshops about storytelling and transgender issues at University of Vermont (2008), University of Massachusetts Amherst (2009), the Allied Media Conference (2009-2013), University of Illinois Chicago (2012), and School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2014).
Most recently, Andre served as Director and Senior Producer for I Live for Trans Education, a grassroots multimedia curriculum that teaches youth about issues impacting the trans community. He worked with a volunteer team of 20 transgender community members at varying skill levels to create four documentary shorts and accompanying interactive activities. He has distributed it to high school GSA’s across IL and the US via live events and train the trainer session at conferences. Since 2012, André has recorded over 400 interviews as part of StoryCorps, broadcasting 40 segments on NPR and WBEZ. Andre has committed his life to empowering marginalized communities through media production, leadership development, and creating platforms to share underrepresented stories.
Director of Community Engagement
Christopher Walker is a black genderqueer transmasculine boi raised in the lily-white suburban hills of New Jersey. He holds a BS in Management and Business from Skidmore College of New York. After they began to decolonize their mind in college, they fled to Chicago to continue playing the saxophone and pursue an arts-focused event programming career, which they began as an engagement assistant at the Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore. In Chicago, they've coordinated events and programming for the Chicago International Film Festival, the Chicago International Music and Movies Festival, Corks and Brushes, The Smart Chicago Collaborative, Bartend Chicago, Open TV - beta, #PrEP4Love, and People Who Care. In addition to their work with America in Transition, they currently hold the title of Social Media Manager for Open TV - beta, a webseries platform and artist incubator that prioritizes creators that are queer, women, femme-identified and people of color. Chris is also a project manager for People Who Care, a marketing consultancy for non-profits. After a stint in the belly of a non-profit beast, he's made a promise to never work for a straight white man again, no matter how well meaning they may be.
Lesley Martinez Etherly
Lesley Martinez Etherly is a filmmaker and Chicago native with a passion for community empowerment through access to media technology. Lesley is a 2016 Kartemquin Diverse Voices in Docs Fellow, Invest Chicago Fellowship recipient, Her Producing credits include Market Value feature film (Best of Fest, Cinema Diverse 2017), The Great Melting Pot Pilot series, Associate Producer documentary Genius of a Different Hue; the story of Black Advertising. Lesley is the Founder and Executive Director of Contexture Media Network, nfp a nonprofit committed to providing digital technology and media production resources for community empowerment.
Director of Cinematography
Having spent most summers as a child in rural Mexico, Christian’s aunts and uncles inadvertently imbued a certain style in him of interpreting and retelling events that inspired wonder and excitement in their listeners. As a cinematographer, Christian hopes to use that influence to create striking images that invoke emotion in his viewers. Hailing from the windy city, he earned his Bachelor's of Arts in Film & Video at Columbia College Chicago. There, he adopted a school of thought that emphasizes story-driven cinematography that is based on emotive lighting and deliberate camera movement.
Karari Olvera is the genderqueer first born of Mexican immigrant parents. An activist, writer, and makeup afficionado, Karari is the co-founder and former editor-in-chief of xQsí Magazine, an online LGBTQ Latin@ multimedia publication based out of Los Angeles. Under their leadership, xQsí Magazine counted with a diverse team of writers and media producers from all across the United States and included correspondents in Mexico and Uruguay. They current serve on the board of United Latin@ Pride, organizing the Midwest's first and only week-long celebration of LGBTQ Latin@ Pride which sees an average of 300 people throughout the week's diverse and free community programming that includes film screenings, panel discussions, workshops, and community gatherings.
Lexington L. Lawson is a writer, producer, and community organizer with special focus on youth experiences and LGBTQ identities. Lexington is a the Booking Manager for America in Transition, Co-Host of the online radio program The Life Lab on E3Radio and Writer and Line Producer for the animated web series McTucky Fried High. The thread of all his work is to create opportunities for people to know their own truth, be the best version of themselves and have the courage to make their dreams a reality.
Nationally recognized composer, producer & arranger Allie Stephens has scored over 500 national TV commercials and 100 feature length documentaries and independent films. They spent 12 years handling blue-chip commercial accounts such as American Airlines, Budweiser, State Farm & McDonalds, and have created themes and underscores for networks such as A&E, PBS, The Biography Network, The History Channel, WTTW and NPR.
Post Production Specialist
Tylyn Anson is a queer, trans filmmaker from the south, and MFA graduate in Film Production from the University of New Orleans. She has extensive experience both on set and in post-production, having worked on over 20 films. Tylyn released several short films that she wrote, directed, and edited, including: 7 Stages of the Closet (2013), Enough for Love (2014), and If Not Now. Her work focuses on queer characters experiences, and stories. When not working, Tylyn lives in Logan Square in Chicago where she reads and calculates just how much coffee is safe to drink per day.
In 2015, Deborah traveled to the Peruvian jungle to shoot principal photography for her master’s thesis, Wise Medicine, a short documentary about the global spread of indigenous plant medicine shamanism. Her 2014 film The Healing Song, a documentary about gong sound healing, has screened at festivals worldwide, including the Boise Film Festival and Clean Shorts Festival where it received nominations for Best Student Short and Best Short Documentary. Deborah is a 2015 recipient of the Festival Inventive Grant (FIG) Award for her narrative/documentary hybrid short Surrender, and a nominee for the 2015 Princess Grace Foundation Award. She served as assistant editor on the Emmy-nominated PBS series Notes From the Field, and second camera on the narrative feature The Year That Changed Us, directed by Kyle Henry.
Rusty C. Cook is a human of the queer feminist transmasculine variety with a penchant for art, design, illustration, writing and performance. Rusty holds a BA in Art + Design from DePaul University and is an alum of the School of Visual Art’s Impact! Design for Social Change residency. They live in Chicago between a cemetery and a nursery with their basset hound Henry.
COMMUNITY ADVISORY BOARD