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REVIEW

'The Brandon Teena Story'

By Deirdre Sinnott (Al Dente)

The fact that there is a documentary about Brandon Teena-a young, working class, transgender person who was murdered in a small Nebraska town in December 1994-shows that there is a significant and growing movement against trans oppression.

Many transgender people are murdered at the hands of bigots. Trans people have been systematically oppressed by the cops and the bosses for hundreds of years. If we know the names Brandon Teena, Marsha P. Johnson and Venus Extravaganza-all killed by bigots and trans oppression-it's only because of a growing awareness of the lives and deaths of trans people. This is the direct result of a movement for liberation.

The new documentary film, "The Brandon Teena Story," produced and directed by Susan Muska and Greta Olafsdottir, is a respectful and important work. The most unfortunate aspect of the film is the absence of its main character. We see Brandon Teena only through photographs, people's memories, and testimony from the men who raped and murdered him.

The most painful part of the film is an audio tape of Brandon made by cops as they grilled him about being raped by the men who would later kill him and two others. The cops deliberately waited to arrest the pair until after the murders.

Brandon's story of transitioning, love, murder and oppression is told thoughtfully by friends and former girlfriends. It was Falls City Sheriff Charles Laux, who publicly exposed Brandon's genetic sex (female), who began the cascade of violence that ended in the triple homicide of Brandon Teena, Lisa Lambert and Phillip DeVine.

Lampert and DeVine were killed to try to protect the identities of the murderers, John Lotter and Tom Nissen.

While there is a lot of information about Brandon Teena available to the movement, this film is an important contribution because it exposes the daily oppression transgender people suffer at the hands of bigoted cops and the sexist, transphobic, anti-lesbian/gay/bi system that oppresses us all.

This article is copyright under a Creative Commons License.
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