12th December 1972 – 31st December 1993
Brandon Teena was a transgender man whose murder on 31st December 1993 was the basis for the film Boys Don’t Cry.
Brandon was born in Nebraska in 1972 to an unsupportive mother and a father who died in a car accident before he was born. When he was 18 Brandon moved out of home to find work and buy a trailer for himself and his then Girlfriend. Brandon also began receiving counselling and treatment for his gender dysphoria. He eventually started a relationship with a woman named Linda Tisdel and met his future rapists and murderous, two ex-convicts, John Lotter and Marvin Nissen. Brandon had started presenting as male full time and kept his transgender identity private.
In ’93 Brandon was arrested for forging cheques and due to outdated policy and a lack of understanding Brandon was placed in a female jail and his arrest was published in the local newspaper under his birth name. As a result both his girlfriend and soon to be murderers learnt that Brandon was transgender.
Lotter and Nissen abducted Brandon and raped him after forcing him to strip in front of his girlfriend. Brandon escaped from his rapists and filed a police report. The police however were more interested in Brandon’s trans identity and so Brandon left without finishing the questioning. The police were unable to arrest Lotter and Nissen due to a lack of evidence. Lotter and Nissen found Brandon hiding at his friend Linda Tisdal’s house and then shot dead Brandon, Linda and another man in front of Linda’s toddler. To ensure Brandon was dead Nissen stabbed him in the chest.
Brandon’s murderers where given life sentences and his family remained unsupportive of his gender reassignment. He is buried in Nebraska under a tomb stone that bares his birth name and the epitaph “Daughter, Sister and Friend”. Responsibility for his death has been placed on the county Sherriff, who failed to stop the murderers after they had initially raped Brandon, and his transphobic response to Brandon during and after his murder.
Brandon’s murder combined with the outraged caused by Matthew Shepard helped lobby for more hate crime laws in the US. Despite these new laws thousands of transgender people face discrimination and violence around the world every year with the death count for transgender people rising.
A Prayer for Brandon Teena:
Lord God we give you thanks for the life of Brandon Teena. We are sorry for the times we are silent when we encounter transphobia and ask that you open the hearts and minds of those who act violently against trans people today. We cry out for justice for trans people around the world and for healing for those who suffer violence. Through Jesus’ most Holy Name we pray for healing. Amen
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