Are You a Boy or a Girl?

Boys Don’t Cry is a powerful true story about a transgender man (in layman’s terms, a man trapped in a woman’s body), Brandon Teena, who was brutally raped and murdered after his biological sex was discovered by John Lotter and Tom Nissen on December 30, 1993 in Falls City, Nebraska. Brandon (played by Hilary Swank) leaves his home of Lincoln where he’s been in trouble with the law and so that he can escape his life at home. He hooks up with a new set of “friends” and begins his clean slate in Falls City, an all-white town in which the rate of domestic violence is high and people pride themselves on being God-fearing, good citizens. Lotter and Nissen are typical “good ole boy” ex-cons who take Brandon into their family. For a while, Brandon finds the acceptance and friendship he is looking for. He even falls in love with local sweetheart Lana Tisdel (played by Sevigny), and plans to move away with her. Just when it looks like alcoholism and no ambition in life is a bigger problem in Falls City than homophobia, things take a turn for the worse when Brandon’s new friends get wind of his criminal charges under the name Teena Brandon. After some snooping through his room, they find tampons, a penile prosthesis and papers revealing who he really is and confront him. At this point, Brandon has already told Lana that he a hermaphrodite after being put in jail in the women’s cell, although this is not the truth. She doesn’t care and bails him out, only for all the rest of his “family” to painfully face him. Lotter and Nissen held Brandon down, beat him, and tore his pants off to reveal his female sex parts, humiliating him in front of his girlfriend. Even after Lana is forced to face the truth that she has been sleeping with a biological woman, she refuses to abandon him because she loves him and doesn’t care. Later, Lotter and Nissen kidnap Brandon and brutally rape him. The audience is not spared a single sickening detail of Brandon’s exploitation. He promises not to tell anyone what they have done to him as they drive him back to their house. Brandon escapes through the window and reports the incident to the police. Because of the strange, unheard of details of his situation (lesbianism and transgenderism), the police officer treats Brandon as if he is actually the criminal, asking all sorts of questions that do not pertain to his rape and doubting it occurred. His pain and alienation is palpable throughout the movie, particularly in this scene. Lana’s mother is informed about the report and tells Lotter and Nissen, who take their hatred and fear to the next disgusting level.As Brandon and Lana are trying to run away to be together, Lotter and Nissen catch up with them and brutally shoot him in front of Lana. They also shoot one of Brandon’s friends who was trying to help them leave town. Lana collapses and sobs into Brandon’s dead body. BGLAD (Bisexuals, Gays, Lesbians, and Allies for Diversity) presented this movie on September 11th as their contribution to Diversity Week of 2007. They chose to show this movie as a part of Diversity Week because there hasn’t been much said about transgender issues and that needed to change, because this is only one story of hatred. People who came to watch the film and discussed it in an open-forum afterwards were deeply affected. You can’t help but love a movie that takes on risqué topics like rape and gender identity. If you can’t stomach scenes of real injustice and hatred, this isn’t the movie for you, but if that’s the case, maybe this planet isn’t for you either. However, if you believe true tragic stories like this one and many others like it should be told, no matter how uncomfortable it makes you, it will leave you speechless and squeeze every last ounce of apathy out of you.