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Teena Brandon: Transgender Tragedy - InfoBarrel

The heartland of America is a breeding ground for bigotry and ugliness.


It is in this geophysical area from which patriots come, knee-jerk reactionaries who thinkMerka was
made by some fictitious god, that people such asqueer-o-sexuals are that gods mistakes, and towel
headspeople who might be Islamic or of Arabic descentare suspect infidels.
It is from here that some of the worst that humanity offers grows.
An incident involving only the last three weeks of a Nebraskans life immortalized her in a way not
necessarily intended.
A few days after being brutally raped by two homophobes, Teena Brandon, a young woman living as
a young man, wasmurdered by her attackers.
Nebraska
The Great Plains States in America are both fruitful and bleak.
They form the literal breadbasket to the world with hundreds of thousands of arable acres of
farmlands, miles and miles of open fields, and a people who, until recently, were culturally
disenfranchised.
There may be something to the isolation of the Plains opennessanyone standing in its vast emptiness
cannot help but feel alone. Inthe pocketed communities thatsprung up in places like Kansas,
Oklahoma, and Nebraska people lived their lives in a relative cultural void for decades. Norms of
behavior were established that carried over into the modern era, and the jingoistic ethos of God,
guns, and country was perhaps nowhere stronger than in the Plains States.
Among the famous people who trod Nebraskas soil was Pulitzer-prize winning author and butch
lesbian, Willa Cather (1875-1947). She was not born in Nebraska but came there with her family
when she was nine.
When she enrolled at the University of Nebraska, she arrived on her first day in the mid 1890s
dressed as a man (her imaginary, opposite-sex twin, William Cather).
She lived the life of a literary light as a lesbian. She had three major loves during her lifetime, all
female, and she spent the last forty years in New York City with a female partner, Edith Lewis.
Markers and other informational material at her Nebraska childhood home just north of Red Cloud,
Nebraska, never mention her lesbianism, however, although it was a major influence in her life and
writing.
Not so literate Nebraskans were Charles Starkweather and his girlfriend, 14-year-old Caril Ann
Fugate.
The 19-year-old Starkweather, a bandy-legged, red-haired, myopic, strutting rooster and a runt,

went on a classic murderous rampage that began on December 1, 1957, and ended with their
capture on January 29, 1958.
The pair traveled throughout Nebraska starting in their hometown of Lincoln, making it as far as
Wyoming. Starkweather gunned down everyone in their path in his desperation to find escape before
getting caught for the murder of a gas-station attendant and Caril Ann Fugates entire family
(mother, father, and 2-year-old sibling). In all, eleven people died during their two months on the
run. Starkweather went to the Big Chair on June 15, 1959. Caril Anne Fugate, though sentenced to
life as an accessory, served only 17 years. She was released, moved to Lansing, Michigan, changed
her name, found a menial job, and married in 2007.
Lincoln, Nebraska, occupies a place in the southeastern part of the state.
It also occupies a dark place in the minds of America.
It is here the tragedy of the transgender young woman, Teena Brandon, played out.
Its a Girl!
Teena Renae Brandon was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, on December 12, 1972, to JoAnn Brandon.
Patrick, her father, had died in a car wreck eight months before Teena was
born. Her mother named Teena after the familys dog (a German Shepherd named Tina Marie).
Much like serial killer Aileen Wuornos, Teena and her sister Tammy were abandoned to the care of
their grandparents by JoAnn. The girls lived with them until Teena was three and Tammy was six.
JoAnn remarried in 1975, and she came for them. The new family moved into a trailer park in
Lincoln.
JoAnn had a job as a clerk in a womens store, leaving the girls in the care of whoever was available
to babysit. One of these was an uncle whom Teena later alleged had molested both girls over a
several year period. JoAnns new husband was an alcoholic, and by 1980 the two were divorced.
Teenas demeanor had always leaned toward the tomboyish. However, as she grew older she began
to more readily identify herself as being more boy than girl, at least mentally. This, according to
some, was a self-defense mechanismby not appearing feminine she would not attract the unwanted
attentions of men.
Teena reported to her few friends her biggest fear was being raped.
Confused?
Gender confusionis itself a confusing term.
The term is applied to transgender people. It is certain the person to whom the label is applied (a
man who feels as if he is female and therefore attracted to things women would find attractive) is
not confused about his or her feelings.
It is society that is confused by such a person: he or she does not fit the expected mold of behavior
for one possessing his/her naturally endowed sex organs. Therefore, a label must be applied. The
more politically correct, clinical term, gender identity disorder, is also misleading, as if the persons

inclinations are somehow abnormal,a disease or malfunction. None of that is truegender identity lies
within the person, and only he or she can say whether he or she is confused.
Most recently, the world has watched as celebrity child Chastity Bono over the years has gone from
being an out lesbian to a transgender person, undergoing hormone treatments and surgeries to
become fully male. Chastity Bono, now using the name Chas, had perhaps never thought of herself
as a lesbian. Although she was attracted to women, Chas Bono felt the same attractions to women as
a heterosexual male doesshe was simply born with the wrong body. [This is clearly differentiable
from the lesbian who relishes being female but enjoys, and is sexually attracted to, other women.]
So, too, Teena Brandon harbored the same feelings at an early age. She began dressing more
masculine and even dated a female student while in school. However, her behavior drew a lot of
unwarranted and negative attention, and she was an easy mark for bullies.
Teena was not ambivalent about her sexualityshe was, in her mind, a man trapped inside a womans
body. The torments in her life stemmed from that unfortunate circumstance. Her mother, JoAnn,
ridiculed this change in persona in her daughter. Although Teena had tried to make her understand,
JoAnn insisted on calling Teena her daughter and using feminine pronouns in reference to her.
Teena and her sister attended Catholic schools in Lincoln. By the time she entered high school,
Teena had adopted the name Billy Brinson for her male self. She started dating girls from other
schools (who did not know she was female). During her sophomore year in Catholic high school she
renounced Christianity because of its mediaeval views on homosexuality. She continually violated
the schools dress code with her manly attire.
Wanting to plan for a future, shortly after her 18th birthday and during her first semester of her
senior year, Teena enlisted in the US Army after a recruiter had been round to the school. However,
the Army rejected her when, on a written exam, she identified herself as male (perjury under
contract).
That same month, December 1990, Teena went to a skate park with friends. Before going to the park
she had bound her breasts with an Ace bandage and put on her most butch clothing. With her closecropped hair, she looked like a boy, albeit a scrawny one. Teenas date for this event was a 13-yea-old girl whom Teena kissed as intimates do. Teena met this girls 14-year-old friend Heather, and
Teena was taken by her. As Heather had only seen Teena dressed as a boy, Teena adopted the drag
look from then on as a means of attracting teen girls.
Apparently happy with her newfound charisma, Teena was reportedly buoyant the last few months of
high school. But she also began skipping out of school; her failing grades led to her expulsion in June
1991 just three days before graduation.
Girls Want to be With the Girls
Summer of 1991 found Teena floating without anything on her agenda except the girl, Heather. She
did find a job as a gas station attendant, though. She wanted to save up enough to buy or rent a
trailer for herself and Heather to set up housekeeping.
JoAnn, suspicious of Teenas relationship with the underage Heather, set Teenas older sister, Tammy,
on her trail. Tammy was supposed to report back to JoAnn if anything untoward was happening
between the girls.

Teena, meanwhile, developed some of the neuroses that could be expected of one living in a mental
storm. She was bulimic, and she abused drugs and alcohol. She had once overdosed in a suicide
attempt.
She finally told JoAnn about the sexual molestation at the hands of the uncle when she was younger.
At a psychiatric evaluation, part of general therapy, Teena was diagnosed as suffering from a severe
sexual identity crisis. Further examination insured Teena was not suicidal, and she was released
from psychiatric care with instructions to attend therapy sessions. Teena and her mother went four
times a week to these sessions for two weeks.
Teena had lived in the home of her underage girlfriend Heather (to whom she had given a
promissory ring, a pre-engagement token) and Heathers mother, Ruth. Ruth put Teena out in 1992,
however, after JoAnn called explaining that Teena (who was using the name Brandon) was really a
girl. [To illustrate just how ignorant these people were, Teena had told the nave Heather she had
once been female but was now a hermaphrodite.]
Teenas older sister Tammy no longer lived at home, crashing with a friend named Reanna. Teena
moved in for a place to stay.
Teena and the Law
Teena had been cadging personal checks and stealing from those she lived with. She forged these
checks for cash and pilfered from her roommates ATM accounts when the opportunity presented
itself.
Heathers mother Ruth had been bilked out of a few dollars by Teena (through check kiting), and she
swore out a criminal complaint. Teenawas found and charged with second-degree forgery. She was
put on probation.
Teena tried to make up with the girl Heather by sending her letters of apology for having deceived
her. Meanwhile, she struck up a relationship with another girl named Gina Bartu. Gina did not know
Teena was female, and apparently any intimate physical contact between them was severely
restricted. Teena, however, continued forging checks and stealing credit cards to buy gifts for her
new-found love, Gina.
Their mother, JoAnn, learned her daughters were living with Tammys old high school friend Reanna.
JoAnn made enough of a fuss with this woman that Reanna asked Teena to leave. Teena Brandon
returned to her mothers home but continued her petty thieving.
She was again charged with forgery in May 1993 (along with some other related charges) and was
jailed. Her girlfriend, Gina, was going to post bail. It was upon going to the jail to seek Teenas
release that Gina Bartu learned that Brandon Teena, her boyfriend, was really Teena Brandon, a
female. Teena begged Ginas forgiveness, claiming she was saving for a sex change operation and to
not break up with her. To avert a split, Teena asked Gina to marry her (bizarrely,Gina said yes).
By September 1993, Teena was back in jail again for having stolen a credit card and racking up
charges of over $450 on it fraudulently. The card was connected to Gina somehow, because Gina
threatened to press charges. Teena advised she would reimburse her, and the matter was dropped.
JoAnn and Teena argued incessantly in the wake of this latest arrest. Teena had been more mannish
in her activates, lifting weights and acting more macho, and it upset JoAnn. After a fierce argument

in late November 1993, Teena Brandon left Lincoln, Nebraska.


Badlands
Humboldt, Nebraska, is about 20 miles northwest of Randolph Countys seat, Falls City. Randolph
Countyis at the absolute southeast corner of Nebraska where it meets Missouri and Kansas. It has
been described as The Land of the Pick-Up Truck, and its redneck reality could not possibly be
foreseen by such a conniving transgender gadabout like Teena Brandon. However, she felt the walls
of Lincoln closing in, and after meeting a new friend named Daphne, the pair took off for
Humboldt,about 80 miles SSE of Lincoln.
Teena already had assumed the male guise of Brandon Teena and wore it effectively. She looked like
a soft boykind of scrawny (55 tall weighing 112 pounds) and shy, but clearly and decidedly
unfeminine. Here, in a new place, she thought she could simply start all over again with her new,
preferred male persona.
The girl Daphne had a friend named Lisa Lambert who rented a rundown farmhouse just outside
Humboldt. Lisa was 24 years old, had an eight-month old son, and she was alone. Perhaps interested
in finding a husband and a father for her baby, Lisa took a shine to Brandon, and Teena was invited
to stay with her temporarily. Almost immediately, though (during the first week of December), Teena
met Lana Tisdel, a 19-year-old strawberry blond to whom she was attracted. Lana lived at home with
her mother Linda and a sister.
In turn, Lana Tisdel introduced Teena to her circle of friends. One of her friends was dating Lanas
sister. This was a black 19-year-old with a prosthetic leg named Phillip DeVine. Another person to
whom Teena was introduced was a young man named John Lotter.
Lotter had once been Lanas boyfriend. He was described as of low intelligence. Born in 1971, this
Falls City native had done almost nothing with his life. He was balding prematurely at the age of 22,
and he was not terribly self-directed. He drank most of the time and got into trouble.
His best friend was another man similar in temperament to himself, also born in 1971, a loser named
Marvin Thomas Nissen. He preferred the name Thomas or Tom. Nissen was married to a woman
named Kandi, and he had two children with her.
Teenas relationship with Lana Tisdel blossomed quickly. There is no clear evidence about the nature
of their intimacy. Allegedly, Lana purportedly told one of her friends that Teena had a small penis.
The friend allegedly replied that Teena was so good a boyfriend that Lana should just forget about
the size of his manhood. [This seems ridiculous on its faceeither Lana had never seen or handled a
penis (unlikely since her ex-boyfriend was John Lotter who no doubt had sex with her), or Teena
Brandon had an outsized clitoris and Lana was too stupid to know the difference. Perhaps Lana
bought the hermaphrodite story. Finally, since Teena packed her pants with two pairs of socks to
give a bulge, there is no reason to presume she might not have taken the extra step to tuck a dildo
into her pants as well. Lana never said she had intercourse with the small penis just that Teena had
one.]
Teena Brandon was happy with Lana and her running buddies, John Lotter and Marvin Nissen. But
since Teena was broke, she reverted to her forging activities for cash. On December 15, 1993, Teena
Brandon was arrested for attempting to cash a forged check at a bank. On December 19, 1993, Lana
went to the jail to post Teenas bail. Teena was housed in the womens unit, and like Gina Bartu

before her, Lana learned Brandon was a girl named Teena. Lana, in addition to her shock, found she
was not legally old enough to post bail for Teena. She contacted the legal-aged John Lotter to come
and complete the transaction on December 22, 1993. At that time, without having anything
confirmed, Lotter got a whiff of the truth that Brandon might be a girl.
To a person of limited life experience and of low IQ, such a revelation would be a blow to his fragile
ego. Homophobes live on the edge of denial as it is, and not only was his ex-girlfriend hanging
around with another guy, the guy was really a dyke putting the moves on her through deceit!
Lotter obsessed about this and as soon as Teena was out on bond, he told Marvin Nissen what he
had found out: their little drinking buddy, Brandon, was a girl.
Revelations & Rape
Teena Brandon had smoothed things over enough with Lana for the two to at least be still on
speaking terms. However, because Teenas arrest had been reported in the paper, it was soon all
over town that Teena was a woman. Lanas mother, Linda, was furious at the charade, and forbade
Teena from seeing her daughter. Teena, not realizing the depth of the furor stirred up by recent
events, went to a Christmas Eve party where Lana, John Lotter, Marvin Nissen, and others were in
attendance.
Lotters upset over Teena had spilled over onto his little drunken friend Marvin. Between the two of
them they absolutely had to know if Teena was a male or female. Lana was of no help as she refused
to discuss it. At the party, Teena was dragged off and punched repeatedly by Lotter. He and Nissen
stripped Teenas pants off and confirmed she had a vagina. Others present reported Lana merely
stood by and watched this happen.
The two homophobes decided, however, that humiliating Teena was not enough punishment for her
deception. They hustled her off in their car to a quiet spot near a meat-packing plant. There, Lotter
and Nissen beat and brutally raped Teena Brandon. Lotter used her vaginally and anally; Nissen
would lie later and claim that although he tried to rape her vaginally, he instead ejaculated into a
condom. [It seems absurd to believe any rapists on the spur of the moment would thoughtfully have
a condom on hand.]
Nissen and Lottery took the battered and bloody Teena Brandon back to Nissens house. It is
believed his wife, Kandi, was home then (she later appeared as a prosecution witness). They took her
to the bathroom and insisted she take a shower and clean up. This was now the wee hours of
Christmas Day. They left her alone in the bathroom; Teena managed to climb out a window and
made her way in the cold, barefoot and without a jacket, to Lanas house.
Death Comes Calling
Lana convinced Teena to file a police report for the rape. Both Nissen and Lotter had warned her not
to tell anyone, especially the police, upon threat of death.
Teena was afraid and had every right to be, but she went ahead to the sheriffs department anyway.
She was taken to an ER for a standard rape kit (which was later lost by the local police), and then
uncomfortably questioned by the typically closed-minded sheriff of the county, a man named Charles
B. Laux.
Rather than ask about the specifics of the assault and who did it, he was more interested in her

peculiar(to his way of thinking)choice of garb and demeanor. His line of questioning was ridiculous.
Did either of the men fondle her vagina? When she replied they had not, he scoffed in disbelief,
claiming something must be amiss as all men would want to touch and fondle a vagina. She finally
found his questioning to be both prurient and pointless, and she stopped talking.
Lotter and Nissen, terrified of going to prison for rape and not trusting Teena to be silent about it,
decided to kill her. They equipped themselves with a rope, a hatchet, and extra clothing.
They started lookingfor Teena in the places they thought she might be. They first went to her old
home in Lincoln, Nebraska, and then they went to three other places they had uncovered from her
address book (assuming it was taken during her rape; otherwise it is unknown how the pair came to
have it).
They gave up their search, having exhausted their meager brains, and spent the rest of the day
drinking and talking of murder. It was the pairs intent to kill Teena and cut off her head and hands
to prevent identifying her corpse. [This almost certainly would have failed. Discovery of a female
torso with an Ace bandage bound around her breasts and two pairs of socks stuffed into the crotch
of her jeans would have been more than enough to identify the unknown as Teena Brandon.]
Lotter and Nissen were finally called in for questioning by the sheriff on December 28. [This was
three days after the rape. It is unclear why they were not immediately brought in.] Lotters excuse for
assaulting Teena (stripping off her pants at the Christmas Eve party) was that Lana Tisdel (Teenas
girlfriend) had asked him to determine Teenas sex. Lotter said neither he nor Nissen had sexual
contact with Teena, but he refused to supply semen or hair samples.
Marvin Nissen volunteered to give samples (whether he actually did is unknown). Nissen claimed,
however, that he had stood by while Lotter had consensualsex with Teena. He was asked to come in
for a follow-up interview; Nissen advised Lotter of what he had told the sheriff and also added he
was due for more interrogation later. Both felt a sense of urgency to find Teena and silence her.
Meanwhile, Lanas mother had called her ex-husband, a man named Lindell, and explained what was
going on with Lana and Teena. This man then took it upon himself to go find John Lotter, and incited
Lotters sense of wounded machismo even further. Teena, scheduled to go back for a follow-up
interview on December 30 with the sheriff, went to the department as appointed. When she arrived
she saw Marvin Nissen there for his follow-up interview, and she turned around and left instead. She
called JoAnn, her mother, who asked her to come home to Lincoln; Teena advised the situation
would be over soon and she would probably see her on or around January 3 [1994].
Lotterand Nissen met up after Nissens interview, and they hatched another murder plot. This time,
Lotter said they needed to be better armed. Both mens movements afterwards were purely
premeditated toward murder as they had been a few days earlier. They drank heavily. They stopped
off at Lotters mothers house where they picked up a pair of gloves and a heavy knife in a sheath with
Lotters nameembossed on it. They visited a friends house that they knew owned a gun. While there,
Lotter excused himself to use the friends bathroom. He knew where the man stashed a pistol, and he
took it. He and Nissen departed soon afterward.
The drunken pair drove to Lana Tisdels house late that night. Although their plan called for
kidnapping Teena and killing her elsewhere, both were committed to killing her on sight (and
anyone else if necessary).
Teena was not at Lanas, however; Lanas mother gave them directions to Lisa Lamberts rented

farmhouse in Humboldt. The men took off. [Lana later advised police that Lotter had made it
abundantly clear that he and Nissen were out to kill someonemagically, however, neither she nor
anyone else in
the Tisdel house had enough caring to ring Lisa Lambert and warn her.]
The killers arrived at Lisas farmhouse and broke in.
On the couch was Lanas sisters boyfriend, Phillip DeVine. He was sleeping over because he and his
girlfriend (Lanas sister) were on the outs. Lotter and Nissen did not notice him immediately.
The pair moved to Lisas bedroom and found her in bed. They awakened her and demanded to known
where Teena was. Lisa said she had no idea; when asked if anyone else was in the house Lisa told
them of Phillip DeVines presence in her living room.
A quick search of Lisas bedroom revealed Teena huddled under a blanket on the floor near the foot
of the bed. She was jerked to her feet and shot. She collapsed on the bed. Nissen asked Lotter for
the knifehe raised Teenas shirt and stabbed her in the abdomen.
Phillip DeVine, hearing the noise, hobbled into the room and found the gory scenethey had also shot
Lisa Lambert where she sat on her bed., and she was lying dead on it next to Teena where she had
collapsed. Phillip backed out of the room, with Lotter and Nissen edging toward him. He went so far
as to get on his knees and begged for his life (according to Nissens testimony later).
Phillip was told to have a seat on the sofaLotter shot him at close range.
Too Quiet
An emergency call was placed to the Humboldt Rescue Squad at 10:20 AM on December 31, 1993.
Emergency personnel arrived to find Lisa Lamberts mother, Anna Mae Lambert, sitting in the dining
room feeding Lisas eight-month-old son. She was the person who phoned in the emergency. She had
arrived that morning and found the carnage police would discover soon; she had enough presence of
mind to disturb nothing except to retrieve the baby from the bedroom.
In the living room splayed out on the floor against the couch was Phillip DeVine. He had been shot,
an entrance wound in his jaw with an exit wound in the right side of his head. He had a second
gunshot wound in the neck (police identified him from his wallet found at the scene).
Anna Mae directed police to the bedroom. The floor was floodedthe waterbed upon which two bodies
lay was leaking. Police saw the blond young woman, Lisa, and what they first thought was a babyfaced young man on the bed. No one had any idea who the man was.
Lisa Lambert had been shot in the stomach and once in the right eye. Police surmised she had sat up
when first shot and had fallen prone onto the bed afterward. The young man had a close-range
gunshot wound under the chin (powder residue and stippling indicated a near-contact shot). They
noted the jagged knife wound to the abdomen and also observed evidence of blunt force trauma to
the head (probably struck with the butt of the gun before shooting).
The sheriff, Charles Laux, was one of the respondents to the scene, and he immediately recognized
the dead young man on the bed as Teena Brandon. He also immediately knew who probably had

killed her and advised all present of his suspicions. Because the sheriff, grudgingly, already had the
pair of Lotter and Nissen already in his sights for Teenas rape arrest warrants for the outstanding
sexual assault were issued.
Evidence linking Lotter to the crime was found quickly enough. The pairtrue criminal
mastermindshad tried to throw the knife and gloves into a nearby river. It was frozen over solid, and
the evidence sat right there on the
surface, the knife sheath having Lotters name stitched on it. The two were picked up quickly, and
questioned; they both told different stories, each implicating the other.
Finally, Marvin Nissen was the first to cut a deal with the statein exchange for his testimony, the
death penalty would be taken off the table for him. At his trial he was convicted of one count of firstdegree murder (for Teena), and two counts of second-degree murder (for Phillip DeVine andLisa
Lambert). He was sentenced to life imprisonment with two other 10-year-minimum sentences for the
second-degree charges. His current prison record shows a scheduled parole review hearing for
March 2016.
John Lotter, the man whose pride was so wounded by his ex-girlfriends fling with a lesbian, was
sentenced to death (but for his bargaining, Nissens fate would have been the same). He was charged
with three first-degree murder counts; a burglary count (for stealing the gun from his friend); and
three counts of using a deadly weapon in the commission of a felony.
He and Nissen have changed their stories many times since each was imprisoned in 1996. The state
of Nebraska finds both complicit, and Lotters appeals have been exhausted. Following a brief
moratorium in Nebraska on executions, he isdeservedlyback on schedule for death.
The collateral damage in this murder, Lisa Lambert and Phillip DeVine (certainly both innocent
bystanders in this drama), are never recalled in discussions of the events. They should be
remembered, too.
Teena Brandon?
Who was Teena Renae Brandon?
Despite her perceived martyrdom within the gay community, she was not a model citizen. Nor was
she a champion of gay rights or a revolutionary working on behalf of gays and transgender people
everywhere.
She was a self-absorbed narcissist who was also a petty criminal.
It is almost certain that Teena Brandon felt some secret glee in fooling the impressionable young
girls she courted. These were mostly unworldly and nave teens used to ill-treatment in their little
corner of Nebraska.
Teena Brandon, as a girl who knew how to treat a girl, was probably looked upon as a knight in
shining armor by these girlswho had such diminished expectations. With men like Lotter and Nissen
as their choices, Teena Brandon was quite a catch comparatively.
In addition to that, she was not a good model for the transgender communitywhatever anyones
opinion of transgender people happens to be, liars and deceivers in any group are not worthy

representatives of that group.


Chas Bono, during the earlier years as Chastity Bono (a lesbian), dressed mannishly, etc., but to the
best of anyones knowledge Chastity never tried to deceive any woman into believing she was
anything other than female (who wanted to be a man, but female nonetheless). Now that the process
of gender reassignment has been executed, Chas Bono is as honest about that change as about the
earlier lifestyle. Chas Bono, the he, does not try to fool women into liking him. They either do or they
dont, and he is not actively engaged in deceiving anyone.
The imposture seemed to be part of Teenas raison dtre, though. She seemed to enjoy the disguise
and the fooling. Every time she was outed she gave excuses:she was gearing up for a sex change
operation or she was a hermaphrodite. She never told anyone the truth: I feel like a man, and I
would like to be a man, but right now I cant afford to complete the process. Will you still love me,
anyway?
Teenas lies about saving for a sex change operation are laughable to anyone of even average
intelligencesuch operations, not covered by health care insurance as they are
consideredcosmeticcost tens of thousands of dollars, and Teena Brandon did not even have a steady
job. Her petty forgery netted her very little, all of which she generally spent on her current girlfriend
of the moment.
Teena Brandon was not a confused girl as many would believe. She felt male, and she acted as a
male would (albeit a very selfish, self-centered one). She was a conniving dreamerand a user.
She categorically and emphatically did not, however, deserve to be violently raped and murdered by
anyone, least of all by two homophobic rednecks. Her downfall was her lack of honesty with those
around her.
Imposters rarely get away with it in the long run. Unfortunately, for Teena Brandon, neither did she.
***
Authors notes: Teena Brandons story was brought to the big screen in 1999 in the Academy Awardwinning Boys Dont Cry, starring Hilary Swank.
It is clearly understood that Teena Brandon thought of herself as male. The gender-correct method
of referring to Teena throughout this piece would have been to use the masculine pronouns he or
him. It is for the sake of clarity and consistency that the feminine was used and not because the
author does not understand the difference or wishes to disparage transgender people by maliciously
refusing to use proper language.
The real story here is about Teena Brandon, not the twohomophobic killerswho murdered her.
However, there is some unresolved information about Lotters and Nissens backgrounds, none of it
worth resolving.
Most sources report without qualification that these two were ex-convicts. Another source reports
they had met each other in the Army.
Both seem unlikely.

Completing hitches in the armed forces and stints in prison would require them to be older than they
were. Similarly, it seems unlikely the 22-year-old Marvin Nissen had enough time in life to be an
adult in prison, complete an army hitch, be married, and have two children. The ex-con story is
probably a rumor started to make themselves seem more menacing to the locals. It is possible one or
both had been in and out of local jails for petty offenses, but neither probably had ever been inside a
real prison.
If anyone bothers to uncover past criminal history for these two and wishes to correct this
assumption, please do. [And as a further indicator of character, as a boy John Lotter was summarily
refused admission to the iconic Boys Townabout 10 miles west of Omahafor incorrigible and
homeless youths. He was considered too bad even for that institution.]
There is an interesting observationno one has ever mentioned about either of the two macho men,
John Lotter and Marvin Nissen:thehomosexual nature of their sexual assault on Teena.
First, it reeks of homoeroticism, the same as any gang rape does. One man standing and watching as
another commits a rape is engaging in homoerotic sexual behavior (as are boys and men who circle
jerk).
Secondly, both men knew Teena Brandon acted and thought of herself as a man. This meant that,
despite the fact they were raping a person with a vagina, the act was symbolically homosexual. It is
particularly noteworthy that in addition to raping her vaginally she was also raped anally; had they
wanted to merely punish her womanhood all they had to do was vaginally rape her. The anal rape
was a homosexual act psychologically for these two, both of whom could then kid themselves that it
was heterosexual sex because Teena had a vagina.
To their twisted way of thinking there is no doubt both believed they had surely taught that queer a
lesson!