Mya Taylor and Kitana Kiki Rodriguez in Tangerine (2015)
Mya Taylor and Kitana Kiki Rodriguez in Tangerine (2015)

‘Tangerine,’ a tale from a transgender community

April 4, 2018

Mya Taylor and Kitana Kiki Rodriguez in Tangerine (2015)
Mya Taylor and Kitana Kiki Rodriguez in Tangerine (2015)

Bursts of laughter and stomping of feet were contagious at the Legacy Hall’s Multipurpose Room on April 4, as the University Programming Board hosted the 2015 film “Tangerine” as part of activities for the Inclusion Now Festival 2018.

“One of the issues we have on this campus is figuring out how to properly include the transgender community,” Jonathon Quam, professor of mass communications.

With transgender actors casted in transgender roles, the old-fashioned comedy and fast paced scenes bring out a genuine story of friendship and the challenges faced by members of the transgender community – all while being shot entirely on three iPhone 5 smartphones.

“There are elements and themes in this movie that I sometimes most hate to reiterate that often gets played out with the transgender community, such as: prostitution [and] hustling. It’s the common way you see them represented on screen, but at the same time it’s a film that uses entertainment to connect to its audience,” Quam said.

The comedy-drama film starring Kitana Rodriguez and Mya Taylor, follows the story of a transgender sex-worker (Sin-Dee Rella) who following her release from jail, discovers her pimp and boyfriend has been cheating on her. She is left devastated when she finds out her best friend is one of the people he cheated with. It also draws light on the daily treatment of members of the transgender community as the audience witnesses urine being thrown at Sin De Rella from a moving vehicle and the ugly stares she receives from people as the depart a community bus.

Quam said, the story of friendship that exists in the film is much more powerful than any other aspect of the film.

“Ultimately it brings you around to understand that the point of the story is really not the weird ridiculous day these two individuals are having. It’s the connection they have with each other which is something that everyone can relate to.”

Although fewer than 10 were in attendance, Quam said he is happy for the students who came.

“Turnout is up and down as the week goes on. Some events we’ve had over a hundred people, some events we’ve had ten, others we’ve had somewhere in between 40 to 50. I think it’s all right. Whatever reasons they came they still experienced this movie which is likely a movie most people are not going to seek out on their own.”

Morgan Sinclair, sociology junior said she loved the movie.

“It was great. It was definitely unique and not something that is been produced often. I don’t think I can speak for the transgender community but to me it’s more representation than has been put out there before,” Sinclair said. “I felt like I was on a 100 percent roller coaster ride but it was great and it’s nice to see transgender people in their own roles.”

Heather Witt, accounting senior, said she thought the movie was interesting.

“I thought it was good, it was a small group of the transgender community, but I thought they were represented pretty well,” Witt said. “I thought it was interesting that in that one area it was only transgender prostitutes.”

Her boyfriend John Merril, said he thought the plot of the movie wasn’t too great.

“It was ok. It didn’t seem to have too much of a strong plot, but the movie itself was good, it just felt like it was too much travel and not enough story, just in terms of walking too much but in terms of presentation I thought it was fine,” Merril said.

Inclusion Now Festival 2018 is being hosted by the he College of Fine Arts, student affairs, and organizations from across campus.  It features a full week of programming dedicated to celebrating social justice on Campus.


Thursday, April 5  

  • Noon-1 p.m. College of Humanities “Disabilities and Discrimination” (student-led presentation)
  • 7-9 p.m. Office of Equity, Inclusion & Multicultural Affairs Film: “Treasure”
  • 9:30 p.m. PRIDE Drag show

Friday, April 6

  • 11 a.m.-noon College of Fine Arts/College of Science & Math Safe Zone Training (lunch provided)
  • Noon-2 p.m. “Sins of Omission: Does Claiming Faith Allow a Physician to Walk Away from those in Need?”
  • 2 p.m. Paint Fight on the Quad
  • 7-9 p.m. College of Fine Arts “Shakespeare’s R&J” (Bea Wood Studio Theatre)

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