Brandon Teena: The sad fate of a charming young boy
Brandon Teena, or Teena Brandon as he was born, would have been a charming young boy– had he been a boy.
He was adventurous, street smart, and he had the good looks to go with it.
Had Brandon lived to tell his story, the psychologists would have had a field day understanding this transgender man and the destruction wrought about by this confusion.
But this was not what was written in Brandon’s stars. A different story was set for him.
Brandon Teena’s precociousness
Brandon was born on December 12, 1972 in Lincoln, Nebraska.
“As she was growing up, she was ornery and full of life,” his mother, Joann, remembers. “She was a prankster, and she was a tomboy.”
This was all but normal for a kid– until teenage angst and the consciousness of his desires set in.
Feeling like a boy and being attracted to girls, Brandon would put a sock in his crotch so he could fool girls.
What’s more, he started doing petty crimes like theft and check forgery. He also attempted suicide.
Brandon Teena’s move to Falls City
With all his problems, Brandon escaped to Falls City in 1993. There he met Lana Tisdel and the two started dating.
It was also there that he became friends with ex-convicts Tom Nissen and John Lotter.
In Falls City, no one knew Brandon was a girl and for him it was a fresh start. But because of money problems, he started forging checks again and he was arrested for it.
This blew the lid on his true sexuality. Angry for fooling them, on Christmas Eve of 1993, Lotter and Nissen physically assaulted and raped her.
In his statement of the attack, Brandon said: “We walked into the bathroom and Tom hit me. He kicked me in the ribs. He stepped on my back. Then he picked me up by my coat, carried me out to the car.”
The police was less concerned about the rape and more about the fact that she was girl.
Moreover, Nissen and Lotter weren’t charged and they exacted a graver revenge.
On New Year’s Eve, they shot Brandon point blank and stabbed her with a knife to ensure her death.
They also killed Lisa Lambert, the owner of the house where Brandon was hiding, and a friend Philip DeVine.
Brandon Teena’s legacy
With his death, Brandon is now an LGBT icon, having brought LGBT, rape, and homeless youth activism to people’s consciousness.
His life was also turned into an Academy Award-winning movie Boys Don’t Cry starring Hillary Swank.
But 23 years later, we need to remind people that icons were human too.
That’s why we tell and re-tell stories like this one: of a sad, charming, troubled young man named Brandon Teena.