Brandon Tenna was a transgender man from Lincoln, Nebraska in the United States, who was the victim of a violent hate crime in 1993 and was later murdered in Humboldt, Nebraska, alongside Phillip DeVine and Lisa Lambert in what became known as “The Humboldt Murders”. Brandon’s life and death became the subject of the Academy Award-winning 1999 film called Boys Don’t Cry, which was in part based on this documentary film The Brandon Teena Story.
Born on December 12, 1972, to his mother JoAnn, Brandon’s life not only ended in but also began with tragedy as his father died in a car crash in Lancaster County eight months before he was even born. Brandon Tenna had an older sister named Tammy and together they lived with their grandmother in Lincoln, before being reclaimed by their mother when Brandon was three years old and Tammy was six.
As young children both Brandon and Tammy were sexually abused by their uncle, this abuse went on for several years, in 1991 Brandon reached out to a counselor for help. Brandon’s family described him as being a tomboy since early childhood but it wasn’t until his teen years that he started to identify as a male and during this time he would date a female student. His mother always rejected his male identity and persisted in referring to him as her daughter.
In 1993, after getting into some legal trouble, Brandon moved to the Falls City region of Richardson County, Nebraska, where he presented himself as a biological male. As time went on Brandon became friends with several local residents and later would move into the home of Lisa Lambert, from here Brandon began to date one of Lambert’s friends, 18-year-old Lana Tisdel, and began associating with ex-convicts John L. Lotter and Marvin Thomas “Tom” Nissen.
After Lotter and Nissen discovered that Bradon Tenna was in fact a biological female, they became obsessed with proving his anatomy to Lana, forcibly undressing him in the bathroom on Christmas Eve 1993, and hours later went on to rape him. On New Year’s Eve of the same year, in order to prevent Brandon from pressing charges against them, Lotter and Nissen shot and killed Brandon along with two bystanders.
Directed by: Susan Muska , Gréta Ólafsdottir