December 30, 2013

Statement from TLDEF Executive Director Michael Silverman on the 20-Year Remembrance of Brandon Teena's Murder

Brandon Teena

December 30 - Tomorrow marks 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, this year’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 honor the memory of Brandon Teena, a man who lost his life simply for being himself, we are emboldened to carry on his legacy by staying the course in the relentless pursuit of safety, equality, and dignity for transgender lives.