This new and completely mesmerising movie from queer Latinx filmmaker Flavio Alves makes such a crucial contribution to the continuing dialogue on the transgender community. This story that traces the relationship between Tina (Carlie Guevara) a young, Latina, trans woman and Eliana (Miriam Cruz) her grandmother, as they navigate Tina’s transition and struggle brings home the stark reality of trying to build a life as undocumented immigrants in New York City.
Alves co-wrote the story with John Rotondo and to make it even more authentic, in a groundbreaking move, he involved 50 transgender actors and filmmakers in the process.
Aa an undocumented transgender woman Tina has limited options for finding work, so she drives a cab whilst her grandmother stays home and keeps house. Each week she takes herself off to see a psychiatrist (Ed Asner) so that she can be evaluated to start the medical part of her transitioning. This takes time and an impatient Tina rales at the fact that her future is to be decided by an elderly white man.
Tina does at least enjoy the friendship of a tight knit band of girls in the trans community, who not only offer her support, but persuade her to get politically active when one of their numbers is beaten up by the Police. She also has a boyfriend in tow who is infrequently around when it suits him, but then disappears completely when Tina gets the OK to start the official transitioning.
What the movie so succinctly highlights is the many hurdles that a trans person must overcome, and as in Tina’s case, how devastatingly expensive it is when you must face it without the benefit of medical insurance. It also brings home very sharply how patchy the level of acceptance of trans people is in even a metropolis like New York where one would have thought there would be far less transphobia. It takes so much more strength and courage for them all just to deal with the routine of their day to day lives.
Alves gets a remarkable performance from trans actress Carlie Guevara making her debut movie that transfixes you to the screen. The reality of her finely nuanced portrayal of Tina and how she imbues the role with a quiet but forceful passion is so very impressive. Surrounding her with so many Latinx and women-of-color members of the trans community on screen made the movie so much more compelling, even though the script in the end just couldn’t avoid the inevitable violence that they face on an almost daily basis.