Tina, a 30-year-old transgender woman and her grandmother, have been struggling to make a life for themselves in New York since emigrating from Mexico when Tina was only six years old. Grandmother yearns to return to Mexico, while Tina struggles for acceptance as a transgender woman in America. Working as a gypsy cab driver to save money for her transition, Tina battles the constant anxiety of being undocumented. She has a lover of 2 years, who suddenly disappears from her life when she decides to actually go through the transition. She is seeing psychologists and doctors for the process and around same time, after yet another brutal beating in the transgender community, she emerges as an outspoken advocate, a role that changes everything. When she joins a trans advocacy group, Tina gains courage and dignity. All this while, she has a secret admirer, the neighborhood deli boy, who longs for a different life as much as Tina does. Tina sells her car for the surgery but disappointingly finds out the hormone injections will not be good for her liver. In a tragedy of sorts, Tina meets a sad ending, that too through the hands of his admirer.
The ending tells us the stats for most hate crimes against transgender women especially trans women of color. This is a very sad reality of our society. Coming back to the film, much of the film is devoted to immersing us in Tina’s daily life, how she thinks of herself and how she is regarded by others. In the process, the director failed to establish the character. I would have liked to know why did the grandma decide to stay for almost 24 years in the city. We would like to have known more of Tina's history. Sure we see how she feels while being mistreated by people around her including her boyfriend, but somehow I still felt a bot disconnected with the character. The whole angle of the neighborhood stalker was a bit ambiguous. Was he a secret lover or a stalker or a hater? The film was still ok when we followed Tina's life and her support system. There are many such small flaws but I can see the makers heart in the right place. But that doesn't mean the importance of the film is any less. I am so glad to see real life trans people playing trans characters.
A slice of life drama set in unfamiliar New York neighborhoods, this is a fresh story. I wanted to like the film much more than I did, but that could be just me dealing with some personal stuff. Despite everything, this film still deserves to be seen. (6/10)