Dezjorn Gauthier

STORYTELLER, wisconsin

Dezjorn started modeling at 6 months old for top children’s brands and winning national titles. He began his physical transition April 2014 and participated in a Barney’s New York campaign featuring 17 transgender models. In addition to being featured internationally in many articles and celebrity shoots, Dezjorn graduated from Marquette University in 2013 with a degree in Criminology, Law Studies and Sociology from Washington University School of Law. As CEO of Dezjorn International, his work focuses on empowering trans men of color through education, empowerment and inspiration. 

Nina Chaubal, 

STORYTELLER, CALIFORNIA

Nina grew up in Mumbai, India. In 2015, she left her job at Google to co- found the Trans Lifeline, the first ever crisis hotline for transgender people. In just three years, Trans Lifeline trained 700 transgender volunteers who answered 40,000 calls. Now Nina is launching an intentional community, art space, and small business incubator in the Mojabe Desert. She is helping foster numerous trans-owned small businesses.

Tiommi Luckett

STORYTELLER, ARKANSAS

Tiommi is a University of Arkansas graduate who advocates for the liberation of transgender & GNC people prioritizing the decriminalization of HIV & survival sex work, affordable housing, equal opportunity employment, comprehensive healthcare and supporting those living with HIV/AIDS. Nationally she works with Positively Trans under the tutelage of the Transgender Law Center, A Girl Like Me (blog), Well Project, US People Living with HIV Caucus, and Positive Women’s Network-USA.

Z Shane Zaldivar

STORYTELLER, NORTH CAROLINA

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 served as Hotline Program Director for Trans Lifeline, a peer to peer resource and support line for the transgender community where he spent over 500 hours responding to suicide calls. For more than 15 years, Z has worked to build community, connect trans people to one another, and mobilize his various communities (southerners, veterans, and people of color) to advocate for change.  

Production Team

André Pérez
DIRECTOR
Executive PRODUCER & Producer

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.

Lexington Lawson
PRODUCER

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.

Karari Orozco-Olvera
CO-PRODUCER

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.

Chithra Jeyaram
EDITOR (Digital Series, EP 4)
Deborah Libby
EDITOR (EP 1-3)

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.

Tylyn Anson
Assistant editor

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.

Christian Mejia
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.

Allie Stephens
COMPOSER (Ep1-3)

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.

Lucas Charlie Rose
Musician (Digital Series)
Lesley Martinez Etherly
CONSULTING PRODUCER

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.

Dawn Valdez
CONSULTING PRODUCER
Gavriel Legynd
Social media (former)

Gavriel is the CEO of Visioneer IT, a company that offers reputation management, email marketing services, content marketing services, and display advertising services.  

https://www.visioneerit.com/

Christopher Walker
Community Engagement (former)

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.

Rusty Cook
BRANDING MANAGER

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

Melvin Whitehead
BLACK TRANS MAN, INC.

Melvin Whitehead is a librarian and educator. He has been a speaker and panelist on topics such as race, gender identity, and diversity. In addition to fulfilling his duties as a librarian at a community college, Melvin works to improve the campus climate for all students through his work in developing the Safe Zone Ally program, his role as an advisor for a LGBTQ+ student group, spearheading the development of the college’s Safe Zone Speakers Bureau, and facilitating workshops on sexuality and gender identity.

Allie Stephens
COMPOSER

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.

Eli Strong
THE STRONG STANCE

is an avid Bama fan, speaker, writer, activist, and host of The Strong Stance on the Back2Us Radio Network. He was featured in the National Geographic documentary “American Transgender” in 2012, which followed the daily lives of 3 trans* people. Eli earned his BSW in 2004 and his MSW in 2005, with a concentration in Program and Agency Administration, from the University of Alabama. He lived in Washington, DC for a decade before relocating to Washington, GA with his wife.

Tiommi Luckett
Storyteller

Tiommi is a University of Arkansas graduate who advocates for the liberation of transgender & GNC people prioritizing the decriminalization of HIV & survival sex work, affordable housing, equal opportunity employment, comprehensive healthcare and supporting those living with HIV/AIDS. Nationally she works with Positively Trans under the tutelage of the Transgender Law Center, A Girl Like Me (blog), Well Project, US People Living with HIV Caucus, and Positive Women’s Network-USA.

Carrie Colpits
Trans Oral History Project

A Collective Member of the Trans Oral History Project for three years, Carrie helped develop I Live for Trans Education: a youth toolkit. She is an avid zine maker who wrote Gender Matters 1 and 2. 

Karari Olvera
Trans Latina Coalition

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.

Media Mentors

Dante Alencastre
INDEPENDENT FILMMAKER

Dante was born in Lima, Peru and emigrated to the U.S. in 1976. He graduated from Columbia University in 1983 with a BA in French Literature and Drama. He is a filmmaker who has worked on numerous projects, including two short films, cable television programs, and a magazine covering the culture of Amsterdam. When he returned to the U.S., he created a documentary about the situation of the LGBT community in his native Peru titled EN FIRE (2007), which had its world premiere at Outfest in Los Angeles on July 14, 2007. After getting international awards, he began working on a new documentary about activism in Peru, The Fire Within (2011), which premiered in Los Angeles, New York, and Outfest-Peru. Photo credit Jon Viscot

David Eads
DATA JOURNALIST & WEB DEVELOPER

David builds news applications for NPR Visuals. Until recently, he built news apps for the Chicago Tribune. He speaks and teaches about technology, organizes community data journalism workshops, developed the Tarbell publishing platform, and helped start FreeGeek Chicago. His work connects journalism, data, and social issues. He builds and teaches simple, direct solutions that help journalists effectively tell their stories on the web. He contributes to and organizes projects that strive for democracy, diversity, and sustainability.

Tracy Baim
JOURNALIST, AUTHOR

Tracy Baim is publisher and executive editor at Windy City Media Group, which produces Windy City Times, Nightspots, and other gay media in Chicago. She co-founded Windy City Times in 1985 and Outlines newspaper in 1987. She has won numerous honors, including the Community Media Workshop’s Studs Terkel Award in 2005, several Peter Lisagor journalism awards, an award from the international Astraea Lesbian Foundation, and the Chicago Headline Club Lifetime Achievement Awards in 2013. She was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 1994 and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association Hall of Fame in 2014. Baim has co-authored and edited several books including: Gay Press, Gay Power: The Growth of LGBT Community Newspapers in America (2012); Obama and the Gays: A Political Marriage (2010, Prairie Avenue Productions); Out and Proud in Chicago: An Overview of the City’s Gay Community (2008, Agate); Where the World Meets (2007), The Half Life of Sgt. Jen Hunter (2005), the biographies Leatherman: The Legend of Chuck Renslow; Jim Flint: The Boy From Peoria; Vernita Gray: From Woodstock to the White House; the Fight for Marriage Equality in the Land of Lincoln with Kate Sosin (2014). Baim was executive producer of the lesbian feature film Hannah Free, starring Sharon Gless (2008, Ripe Fruit Films) and Scrooge & Marley, a gay Christmas Carol, in 2012.