Brandon Teena was a tran*sgender man who was attacked and m*urdered in 1993 by two people who discovered his biological se*x. Teena was ra*ped, and the two shot and k*illed him a week later after learning that he had reported the ra*pe to local police. The case is one of the most well-known trans-ha*te cri*mes in American history.
In 1972, he was born as the female Teena Brandon in Lincoln, Nebraska, and his childhood was filled with abuse and devastation. His father died in a car accident before he was born, and his mother was 16 when she gave birth. Teena and his sister Tammy were sexually abused as children by a male relative.
He liked sports and wore his hair short. Teena attended a religious private school in Lincoln, NE, until his sophomore year, when he moved in with his girlfriend, Traci Beels, to explore his sexuality. Teena was abused by Beels, and he quickly moved back in with his mother.
Mom Refuses to Accept Teena
Teena identified as a male by his senior year and only dated females. He was now the class clown, and he was very popular, but his mother did not approve of his new lifestyle. She refused to accept Teena’s gender and continued to address him as her “daughter.”
Teena then attempted to join the United States Army but failed the written exam. Depression set in quickly, exacerbated by his mother’s and family’s lack of support. He attempted suicide once, which sent him to the Lancaster County Crisis Center for several days of inpatient treatment. Doctors diagnosed him with a “Gender Identity Crisis” and a personality disorder.
Teena did well for a while, attending therapy sessions on a regular basis. However, this did not last long, and he began living a rough cri*minal lifestyle, forging checks, stealing credit cards, and engaging in other compulsive behaviors. He required the funds to purchase gifts for his girlfriends.
Teena Skips Town
Teena left in 1993, leaving several warrants behind – and the knowledge that he was born female. He arrived in Humboldt, Nebraska, shortly before turning 21. He easily made new friends here. Two of the new friends were John Lotter and Marvin Thomas Nissen. Lana Tisdel, 19, became his new girlfriend as well.
Girlfriend Learns the Secret
Teena soon began his life of forgery, which landed him in jail. On December 19, 1993, his girlfriend arrived to pick him up. Tisdel later discovered that Teena was tra*nsgender while being housed in the women’s section of the jail. He attempted to explain that he was t*ransgender and was considering gender reassignment surgery.
When the details of Teena’s arrest were published in the local newspaper, everyone in town discovered that she was tra*nsgender. The notice stated that he was female and that his given name was Teena Brandon.
A Violent Confrontation
Lottler and Nissen confronted Teena at a Christmas party several days later. Lotter was particularly enraged by Teena’s gender. He was forced into a car, driven to a remote location, physically restrained, and rap*ed. They released Teena, threatening to k*ill him if he told anyone about what had happened.
Teena ran to his girlfriend’s house, where she called an ambulance. A rap*e kit test was performed, and a police report was filed. Sheriff Charles Laux blamed Teena for the assault and made numerous insensitive remarks about his identity. Because of this, Teena’s mother filed a lawsuit against Richardson County and was awarded nearly $100,000.
Nissen and Lotter were interviewed by Laux, but they were not arrested.
The pair sought retaliation after Teena went to the police.
Teena Murd*ered by Enraged “Friends”
Nissen and Lotter went to Teena’s house on December 31, 1993. Teena was shot at point blank range before being stabbed to de*ath. Lisa Lambert and Phillip DeVine, two other adults in the house, were also mur*dered in front of the woman’s eight-month-old son. At the time of the incident, DeVine was dating Tisdel’s sister.
Lotter and Nissen were both apprehended on the same day. They were both found guilty of mur*der. Nissen testified against Lotter and was sentenced to life in pri*son in exchange. Lotter was sentenced to de*ath, but after Nebraska abolished the de*ath penalty in 2015, his sentence was commuted to life in pri*son.