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5 Reasons White LGBTs Should See Tangerine

5 Reasons White LGBTs Should See 'Tangerine'

5 Reasons White LGBTs Should See 'Tangerine'

If you haven't heard of Tangerine... well, that may be part of the problem. The independent film, which follows trans sex workers Sin Dee (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) and Alexandra (Mya Taylor) as they search for a pimp in Los Angeles, was a hit with critics. In fact, it scored 96 percent on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes for, in part, showing a side of Tinseltown that hasn't been seen on the big screen before.

As Hollywood grapples with its #OscarsSoWhite controversy—2016 was the second year in a row in which every Academy Award-nominated actor was Caucasion—Tangerine emerged as a prime example of how Academy voters may have turned a blind eye to projects that celebrate diversity. Despite an awards campaign that received the support of Caitlyn Jenner, the film and its trans actresses of color were among those deserving people and projects that were not recognized for excellence.

As recent history has shown us, films have the power to not only entertain, but also to win hearts and minds to the causes of disadvantaged communities. And transgender women of color, who are disproportionately affected by violence and health issues like HIV, need all the hearts and minds they can get. Thus, Tangerine is a perfect way to help other groups within the LGBT community, particularly white people and allies, understand how some trans women live, so they too can help enact change.

Here are five reasons they should see Tangerine.

1. Sex work is a reality 

Tangerine educates while excluding exploitative ideology around sex work, the film shows trans women and sex workers who, despite what some might refer to as leading dangerous lives, live in our world. They've experienced joys, disappointments, hopes, ideas, and regrets, and, like everyone, they're just trying to survive. Tangerine shows no pity; it doesn’t push an agenda or advocate for anything. It just exists.

2. Sin-Dee and Alexandra are in the community

Mya Taylor told ThinkProgress, "I hope that people see this is real. Trans people — not every trans person — but trans people are doing sex work because they can’t get a job or anything." There needs to be no judgment or disregarding of their realities from our community, only love and support for them being their authentic selves and doing what they need to do to survival.

3. Tangerine shines a light on cultural differences

While Tangerine doesn't speak for all trans women of color, it's a good way for white people to learn more about the transgender community. We are all different. We are all beautiful. We all deserve love and support. 

4. The acting is top-notch

Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor are magnetic on screen, and they're friends IRL. The cast brings enthusiasm and authenticity to their characters. It's unlike any other film about trans people because the filmmakers cast trans actors to play trans characters. Groundbreaking, right? The pair has also been nominated for a slew of prizes, including Independent Spirit Awards, and Taylor even took home a Gothan Award recently for her outstanding performance.

5. Tangerine is LOL funny 

While the stars play very different characters, both have flawless comedic timing and the movie has a sense. But, the characters' humorous moments are very different from each other. Sin-Dee’s come from her over-the-top, loud, and aggressive personality, while Alexandra's humor is drier than a saltine cracker. When asked why white gay people should see Tangerine, Taylor recently told The Advocate, “It’s really funny, you know. It’s like a love story. But it’s a friendship love story. It’s very sweet.”


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