Brandon Teena Murder Trial: 1995
The Brandon Teena story became a national issue in the gay, lesbian, and transgendered communities. Since Brandon was essentially scorned, raped, and then murdered for his effort to redefine his biological gender, and since he was ousted by local authorities and press, his murder came to symbolize the difficulties facing those ostracized by mainstream society over gender identity issues. Brandon's former girlfriends in Nebraska found themselves stigmatized as lesbians, although they denied that their affairs with Brandon were lesbian in nature. They simply felt that they were innocent victims of sexual deception.
Brandon's mother, Joann Brandon, sued Sheriff Charles Laux in 1998 for not offering her daughter protective custody after Brandon reported the rape by Lotter and Nissen. The lower court ruled against Joann Brandon, saying that because Brandon dressed as a man, he was partly responsible for his own death. However, on April 20, 2001, the Nebraska Supreme Court overturned that ruling and said that Sheriff Laux was negligent for not providing protection to Brandon.
Aphrodite Jones authored All She Wanted, a sympathetic true-crime study of the rape and killing, and Jami Floyd, an ABC reporter, put together a television documentary for ABC 20/20 television. A full-length documentary movie, The Brandon Teena Story, the popular film Boys Don't Cry, together with numerous magazine articles and an Internet website all served as testimony to the compelling appeal of the tale in which this sensitive but troubled young person became a victim of prejudice and violent crime.
Suggestions for Further Reading
Jones, Aphrodite. All She Wanted. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1998.
Muska, Susan, and Greta Olafsdottir. The Brandon Teena Story. Zeitgeist Films, 1998.