Rey Tang began writing scripts and making short films in the seventh grade, after becoming inspired by Asian-Americans showcasing their videos through YouTube. In high school, while writing, shooting, and editing shorts with friends, Rey won a National Medal from the Scholastic Arts and Writing Competition for her work “Just Another File”. Later, she wrote and directed "Noodles & Incense”, a queer Asian-American short film that played at several festivals including New Filmmakers LA, QWOCMAP, Aladerri International Film Festival, and others. Currently, she is focused on promoting her Northwestern senior thesis "Emergence" and hopes to give transgender students a voice through this narrative short.
Conventionally, transgender coming-of-age stories focus primarily on when trans teens begin to reconcile with their gender identities. That is, there’s a stifling one-size-fits-all traditional narrative for trans characters and queer characters overall. I wrote and directed Emergence in direct response to this gap in storytelling. I believe that some of the most interesting points of the LGBTQIA+ experience comes with living within our identities - that is, what comes after the initial coming out? Through Tori, I’m excited to explore these unique intersectionalities that transgender queer women occupy.
College freshman Tori arrives at college shortly after the pandemic and still carries trauma from her conservative high school. Tori is a transgender athlete and faces crippling gender dysphoria in various social situations, such as changing in locker rooms and making new friends. As a result, Tori was content to lead her life in isolation, changing alone outside and keeping to herself. Yet, when she meets fellow teammate and first-year Amanda, she finds herself letting her guard down, and through their growing relationship, each individual can confidently step into their newfound identities for the first time.
Emergence is my ode to the outskirts of Chicago. Having grown up in New Jersey and gone to school in Evanston, I hold a special place in my heart for the suburbs. Whether it be through quiet conversations on the porch or hanging out on the playground sets, Emergence is a celebration of my love for the unique late-night solace found in Chicago, as well as the warmth, camaraderie, and community that grows in these pensive moments.
College is a time when many students begin to open up into their true selves, but trans students in higher education still face discrimination, fear and difficulties being accepted. Many Chicagoland universities have LGBTQIA+ support offices and affinity groups to help all students proudly and safely live their truth. Check with your university for more information.
Learn more about Rey Tang, and see more of her work, at https://www.reytang.com/.
Becoming an adult is hard. There are so many societal pressures about who to be and what to look like, and what is right or wrong. You receive unsolicited advice from well-meaning relatives, or more blatant bullying and hateful speech from classmates or strangers. A constant barrage of confusing information rattles around in your head just as you’re trying to figure out who you are. It can be hard to hear your own voice through the noise of everyone else’s opinions. Your voice is in there of course, however quiet, waiting for you to claim its power so you can finally be seen. Waiting until you feel safe enough to embrace the person that you know yourself to be. This can be difficult as we have a whole history of being told otherwise. We may need to look for the Helpers to get us through. How wonderful are the Helpers? The ones who will sit with you as you navigate your journey of coming into your own authenticity. To listen to your insecurities and fears while providing courage and bravery when you need it. To be the voice of reassurance when doubt and uncertainty creep in. To help you move towards self-acceptance and loving the comfort of your own skin. These are your people. They are out there. And you will find them.