How Would Brandon Teena Have Fared In Today’s World?

bteenarevWith access to the Internet, Brandon Teena would have seen and known a lot more about queerness and transgender identities. Brandon did research about having sexual reassignment surgery, so I would imagine, twenty years later, he would have seen images and videos of butch lesbians and trans men and trans women talking openly about their feelings about their gender identity and about their desire to transition or not. He might have seen self-made videos of people dressing in their preferred identity and/or transitioning.  He could have seen a doctor’s presentation on how a surgery might be done.

In writing the script for Boys Don’t Cry, we asked ourselves, ‘Why did Brandon who lived in the relatively large and cosmopolitan city of Lincoln, Nebraska [population: 265,000] not go to New York City or San Francisco, which he likely would have thought had greater queer culture and out populations? Why did he choose to move to the much smaller, less cosmopolitan town of Falls City [population: 9,000]?’ We concluded that he stayed in a place that was familiar and where there were fewer queer people because that environment made it easier to pass as a man. So while Brandon Teena twenty years later would likely have been more knowledgeable of queer culture, if he did not want to move into a queer life and instead wanted to disappear into a straight life, he may still have made the same choice to go to Falls City. And while the people that he hung out with in Falls City twenty years later may also have had some more knowledge of queerness, they may have been no more accepting of it.  I never thought Falls City was the problem. I always imagined it was the people Brandon sought out and fell in with. If he had chosen more tolerant people, he may have had a different outcome.”


— Boys Don’t Cry director Kimberly Peirce asked how cultural shifts might have changed the life of Brandon Teena, the transgender man who is the subject of her film and who was murdered in 1993, during an interview with Harper’s Bazaar