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The Brandon Teena Story
IMDB Rating: 7.2/10 from 786 votes
Release: 23 September 1998 (USA) /

The Brandon Teena Story

Genre: Biography, Documentary
Director: Susan Muska,
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: Documentary about Brandon Teena (aka Teena Brandon), a transgendered person, who was murdered along with two others in 1993 in rural Nebraska. The story is told through interviews with people who knew Brandon, recorded interrogation and trial transcripts, and photographs and file film footage. Written by Michael C. Berch <mcb@postmodern.com>

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Critic Reviews


Although we do get to hear the voice of Brandon Teena because of her taped interview with the police, The Brandon Teena Story is essentially the plot of Boys Don't Cry without the central protagonist. Hilary Swank filled the void that Brandon's absence created with her Academy Award winning performance. What we have here is a documentary of the events leading up to his murder and what happened to his killers.

When dealing with a transgender individual to properly tell the story we have to go back to the cradle to those very first questioning that something is not right with the body I'm in. So it was with Tina Brandon born in Nebraska and raised in a time where she would have had limited access to literature about being transgender. She also was raised in a redneck culture and her male role models were the redneck boys she grew up with. This was to her what it meant to be a man.

Before he was murdered at the end of 1993, Tina Brandon reversed her name and started living as Brandon Teena in a nearby town where no one knew him from a previous identity as a woman. As a man Brandon did pretty good with the woman by the accounts in the film and that aroused suspicion that eventually led to tragedy.

There were two crimes involving Brandon Teena. The first was a brutal rape when her physical privacy was violated on Christmas Eve and then her murder along with two other people to silence them as witnesses after Brandon Teena brought the complaint of rape on New Year's Eve.

Two things I guarantee you will disturb you for all time to come. The first was the total lack of remorse by Brandon's killers, John Lotter and Tom Nissen. They still truly believe that in their heart of hearts they were somehow defending the barriers of male sexuality from unwanted invasion. Secondly it's the total lack of compassion and understanding of transgender issues by the sheriff's department when you hear the sheriff questioning Brandon about the rape. Both these things sad to say aren't a new story for me. I worked 23 years for NYS Crime Victims Board and even today the approach some police take regarding gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender crime victims is appalling. It's far worse where I live now in Buffalo than in New York City where I'm originally from. That it's not a new a revelatory story for me is another frightening thing.

To get the facts as Joe Friday used to say on Dragnet, I suggest you watch the Brandon Teena Story documentary. To flesh out who was Brandon Teena than don't miss Hilary Swank's performance in Boys Don't Cry.

This review is dedicated to all the Transgender support groups out there in the world, especially to the Buffalo Belles and Spectrum in my area. They provide an incalculable service to those transgender folks at various stages of their journey. Due to the insurance regulations most will die in the bodies they feel wrongly trapped in. Hopefully that will change and the Brandon Teenas don't have to stay Tina Brandon if that's not who they were meant to be.

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