The Queer Issue
You shouldn't know who Brandon Teena was. His life's details should be none of our business. Hilary Swank shouldn't have an Oscar on her mantle for nailing her portrayal of him in 1999's Boys Don't Cry. He should be alive, turning 35, and anonymously charming as many of the ladies of southeastern Nebraska as possible, just like he did as he turned 21, before he was murdered on New Year's Eve 1993, becoming the great transgendered martyr of our time.
Born Teena Brandon in 1972 to a widowed mother, the details of his two decades alive come our way secondhand. As a child, Teena, a biological female, was thought of as a tomboy. As a teen, he began living as a man, dating girls, developing a record of petty crimes and a reputation as a chronic liar. He tried to join the military, but failed the entrance exam. He lived in the margins, borrowing and stealing to survive, sleeping wherever he could arrange it. In some ways, he was a stereotypical rural Midwestern loser. But by most accounts, he was supremely talented at pleasuring young women. Ultimately, that's what got him killed, but that's not what made him a martyr.
Brandon's couch surfing landed him in hyperrural Falls City, Nebraska, in late 1993. There he began making time with the lovely Lana Tisdel, endearing himself to her unknowing friends and family, including John Lotter and Tom Nissen, a couple of ex-convicts. In mid-December, Brandon got caught passing bad checks around town. As he was processed at county lockup, his biological gender was revealed. When the local paper in the tiny town printed news of his arrest under his female birth name, a severe shitstorm followed. Lotter—who had once dated Tisdel—and Nissen assaulted Brandon at a Christmas Eve party, forcing him to strip naked in front of everyone. Afterward, the pair drove him away, brutally raped him, and brought him back to Nissen's home. Brandon escaped and met up with Tisdel, who convinced him to file a police report.
Horrible enough already, but pay close attention now and try to keep your blood from boiling over.
Brandon went to the cops on Christmas Day. They took photos of his body and compiled conclusive evidence that he had been sexually assaulted. Sheriff Charles Laux then interviewed Brandon personally, using his time with Brandon to berate and intimidate him so intensely that Laux's deputy in the room left in disgust. No arrest warrants were issued. Three days later, Laux interviewed Lotter and Nissen, who admitted to the assault but denied the rape. Laux did not detain them. On December 30, Laux's deputy formally requested that Laux get a warrant issued. He refused. On December 31, Lotter and Nissen tracked Brandon down at a farmhouse outside of town and shot Brandon and two other occupants of the house to death at close range.
You shouldn't know who Brandon Teena was.