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MAMA HAS A MUSTACHE is a short, quirky, fully animated documentary about gender and family, as seen through children’s eyes. Driven completely by audio interviews of kids ages 5-10, the film uses these sound bytes combined with clip-art and mixed media to explore how children are able to experience a world outside of the traditional gender binary.

Director's Statement

As a gender nonconforming documentary filmmaker and parent myself, this film is highly personal to me. The film is rooted in my personal experience and community,  many of the kids in the film are friends of my seven-year-old daughter, some are the children of friends of mine, and others are folks around the country who I connected with online. 




The idea of gender as a construct, rather than a biological trait, is not a new one. But the ways in which Americans are embracing this notion on a broad, national scale are vast and exciting. As we enter 2021, a slew of terms are now used to describe anyone who identifies as outside the bounds of traditional gender expression: gender nonconforming, gender variant, gender fluid, genderqueer, among others, all used adamantly to eclipse the gender binary. Within this context, kids’ own gender identities and their perceptions of their parents’ gender are more complicated and nuanced than ever.


How do kids, many of whom embrace this gender nonbinary, perceive their own and their parents’ gender? What are the ways in which children of nonbinary people are freed up to express themselves in a whole new range of forms? Parents, teachers, and kids are now in a place where they are ready to begin talking about these issues, ready to bring these conversations into the home, and into the classroom.


While legislation around gender and identity continues to try to keep kids from being who they are, and during a time when our world is suffering from so much pain and divisiveness, MAMA HAS A MUSTACHE seeks to explore and uncover this exciting new frontier--with lightness, humor, childlike openness, and play.



Sally Rubin is a nonbinary Emmy-nominated, documentary filmmaker and professor at Chapman University.

We are excited to be doing MORE with this film than the traditional film festival release. We are bringing a huge focus on impact into our outreach plans, which include the following:

  • A combination of VIRTUAL & LIVE EVENTS in conjunction with our regional and national partner organizations       

  • Creation of a TEACHING TOOLKIT & DISCUSSION GUIDE for in-classroom use

  • DIGITAL RELEASE of the film through downloads, iTunes,  streaming services, and Disney online 

  • CONFERENCES in the areas of Education, Child Development, Psychology, and LGBT/Gender Studies

  • SPONSORSHIPS & EXCLUSIVE SCREENINGS available to partners and their members

Email us to learn more about sharing the film in your community, school, or organization.

Director's Statement
Why Now?


MAMA HAS A MUSTACHE is a wonderful film! The children who star in it are delightful—so smart and funny and loving and free. It is so inspiring to hear children talk about gender in such a matter-of-fact, respectful, and accepting way. I had a smile on my face the whole time I watched the film, even at the end when I also had tears in my eyes. To hear children saying that they love themselves “one-hundred percent” and wouldn’t change anything about themselves is nothing short of revolutionary. Thank you for creating this important, moving film.

— Lesléa Newman, author of Heather Has Two Mommies and Sparkle Boy

I laughed out loud and I was deeply moved; you can't ask for much more than that from a piece of art, can you?  I especially love the way the film captures the kids’ joy, their wit, their individual personalities, their HAPPINESS, and how smart they are.  The animation goes along just perfectly.

— Silas House, Author of Clay's Quilt and Southernmost

The sense of freedom these kids feel, the permission their parents' own gender creativity grants them to be themselves, whatever that might be, is a delight to behold--and that delightfulness is gorgeously captured in Max Strebel's whimsical animation.

— Susan Stryker, author, Transgender History: The Roots of Today's Revolution

MAMA HAS A MUSTACHE is a delightfully real and candid film about gender identity that I could use in a multitude of ways in my middle school English classroom. I would use this film as a precursor for books that feature LGBTQIA+ characters, and as an opportunity for students to have space for an authentic expression of self and follow it up with an 'I Am' Poem Activity. This film has an immense value not only for LGBTQI+ students but also students who are allies, students who are questioning, parents, families, and community members.

— Amy Sara Lim, Middle School Teacher

This film provides an opportunity for students of all ages, cultural backgrounds, and identities to start conversations about their authentic selves, and how they want to express themselves. It supports dialogue between parents and their children and creates space for this critical conversation.

— Jiva Jimmons, Secondary School Teacher

I loved every moment, I was riveted by these cuties. What a gift, this is a wondrous and beautiful articulation of the future. The material and artistry speaks for itself. The film is *so* beautiful and forward thinking, a true testament to the possibilities of the future.

— Zackary Drucker, Producer of Transparent and Lady and the Dale

Engaging, important work. The posing of questions allows for a very `soft landing’ onto the complex terrain of both gender identities and family constellations. The kids were drawn so much as individuals that one could enter into their stories very easily, and their portrayals of themselves and their families allow for the complexities to be revealed, but also the rather ordinaryness of family life in its many permutations. I can imagine that kids would find this very accessible, keeping them in the stories and the inquiries.

— Diane O’Donoghue, PhD, Director, Program for Public Humanities, Tufts University

"Sharing the film at our conference gave attendees new tools to navigate gender identity. Director Sally Rubin speaks to the hard-hitting questions about trans parenting, raising nonbinary kids, and how this conversation is reshaping how we view what a family looks like."

— Erin Uritus, CEO

Out & Equal Workplace Advocates

Using audio interviews, animation, and colorful collage mixed media, this adorably charming documentary short offers a touching guide to trans parenting. Told from the perspective of the kids’ experiences, filmmaker Sally Rubin gently interviews kids on what it’s like to grow up with trans and gender nonconforming parents. Their observations are honest, hilarious, and always straight from the heart.

— Jude Dry, IndieWire

An adorable and smart film! I love these kids, the animation, and how the film promotes ease around these subjects rather than tension and fears around getting things “wrong.”

 Amy Scholder, Producer

Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen

"This is a groundbreaking film - a must see for literally everyone."

— Sam Feder, Director

Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen

"Thank you so much for sharing your film.  I just watched it, and I was completely blown away by its beauty.  It was such a joy to hear young people freely and lovingly and matter-of-factly talk about gender expression, their own trans and non-binary parents, and their love and acceptance of themselves.  It's a beautiful film, and thank you so much for making it.  Many years ago, before I went for my PhD, I was an elementary music teacher in NYC, and I can see this film being very important in elementary classrooms (and PTA meetings).  It humanizes trans families in a way that feels very important right now."

 Naomi Podber, PhD

Postdoctoral Researcher, Chapman University





Production Team

Production Team


Sally Rubin

Sally Rubin is a nonbinary Emmy-nominated, documentary filmmaker. Her work includes directorial credits such as DEEP DOWN, LIFE ON THE LINE, and HILLBILLY, which have broadcast on Hulu, Independent Lens, and PBS nationally. She has done producing, writing, and editing on films that have aired on Frontline, HBO, and the Sundance Channel, and on the experimental LGBT-themed films such as Wu Tsang’s WILDNESS, Sam Feder’s DISCLOSURE, and Shaleece Haas’ REAL BOY. Rubin has received grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, Chicken and Egg Pictures, the MacArthur Foundation, and the Fledgling Fund, among others. Her films have screened at top festivals including the LA Film Festival, DOC NYC, Big Sky, and the American Documentary Showcase, as well as LGBT-focused festivals such as Outfest and Frameline. A graduate of Stanford’s documentary program, Rubin is a judge for the Emmy Awards, the International Documentary Awards, and a proudly out, queer professor at Chapman University.

max new photo.jpeg

Max Strebel
Director of animation

Max Strebel is a queer filmmaker and motion graphics artist, with a focus on animated sequences for documentaries with strong social justice themes.  His most notable projects have been shown on Netflix and HBO. He has also had his work screened at film festivals nationwide including Tribeca, Frameline, San Francisco International, Mill Valley, Santa Fe and Santa Barbara among others.  Max is an Adjunct Professor at Chapman University, where he works closely with students creating animation for social justice documentary classes.  Commercially, Max’s clients include Google, Intel, Sony, LG Chem, USDA, ModCloth among others. Max is a graduate of NYU Tisch School of the Arts.

View Max talking about the film

StacyGoldate_headshot by Susan Kuklin201

Stacy Goldate
Editor & Co-Producer

Stacy Goldate is a queer director and editor. She directed the award-winning 1996 documentary, LUCY BARKS! about an all-ages punk music venue in Nashville. In Chicago, she worked for Women in the Director’s Chair and helped develop an after-school program for LGBTQ+ youth through the Video Machete collective. She was named one of Chicago’s 30 Under 30 by the Windy City Times and received her MFA in 2003 from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she created a series of films and video installations that screened world-wide.  Stacy has edited over two dozen documentary productions including CNN’s THE NINETIES, THE 2000s, and 1968 for Executive Producer Tom Hanks; Chris McKim & Eva Orner’s Emmy-winning OUT OF IRAQ, JUSTIN BIEBER’S BELIEVE, directed by Jon M. Chu, and the award-winning HILLBILLY (Hulu), directed by Ashley York & Sally Rubin. In 2018, she and Craig A. Colton directed A GREATER SOCIETY and led a voter turnout campaign with the film. Recently, Stacy edited the documentary DISCLOSURE (Netflix) which premiered at Sundance 2020 and won a GLAAD media award. 

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Frameline, San Francisco

Holly Shorts Film Festival (Oscar-qualifying), Los Angeles 

Outfest, Los Angeles

San Francisco International Film Festival



MountainFilm, Telluride

Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Festival, Colorado Springs 



Tampa Bay International Film Festival (Oscar-qualifying)



Chicago International Children’s Film Festival (Oscar-qualifying), Embrace Award



Nantucket Film Festival



New York International Children's Film Festival (Oscar-qualifying), Nominee, Audience Award

Rochester International Children’s Film Festival


Providence Children’s Film Festival



Port Townsend Film Festival, Women and Film

Seattle International Children’s Film Festival, Seattle, Winner, Best Short Documentary

TRANSlations: Seattle Trans Film Festival 





Calgary International Film Festival (Oscar-qualifying), Alberta, Canada

Global Media Makers Workshop, Kerala, India

Film Independent Documentary Workshop, Kolkata, India

Flatpack Film Festival, Birmingham, United Kingdom



Out + Equal Workplace Summit 2021

EDGY Conference 2022: Dimensions of Gender

ILGA World Conference 2022

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