Remembering Brandon Teena 20-Years After His Death


Brandon Teena

December 31, 2013 marked 20-years since the brutal murder of Brandon Teena, a 21-year-old transgender man in Nebraska, whose story shined a spotlight on the unspeakable violence facing transgender people in our society and became the basis for the Academy Award-winning film “Boys Don’t Cry.” In the decades since the crime, the nation has made strides in recognizing transgender rights, including passage of a transgender-inclusive federal hate crimes law in 2009, last year’s U.S. Senate passage of a transgender-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), various pro-transgender advances at state and local levels, and increased positive visibility for transgender people in the media.

But sadly, 20 years after Brandon Teena’s death, the transgender community still faces tremendous rates of violence, unemployment, and poverty, and a lack of access to proper healthcare and public accommodations. Yet despite these challenges, transgender people across this nation continue to forge ahead, living authentic lives and overcoming immense obstacles. As we continue to honor the memory of Brandon Teena, a man who lost his life simply for being himself, TLDEF is emboldened to carry on his legacy by staying the course in the relentless pursuit of safety, equality, and dignity for transgender lives.