How Brandon Teena Is Portrayed in “Boys Don’t Cry”


A transgender person is a person whose sexual identity does not match the sexuality assigned at birth. Brandon Teena in Boys Don’t Cry (1999), directed by Kimberly Peirce and starring Hilary Swank, is a transgender male who was born female but identifies as male. However, when this film was released in 1999, transgenderism was not yet widely recognized around the world. In the pamphlet of the film in Japanese, Peirce herself describes Brandon as a woman who pretended to be a man. Therefore, Brandon is a woman in the film, and the relationship with her girlfriend Lana seems to be portrayed as a lesbian relationship. However, actual Brandon identified himself as a man, and he loved Lana as a man. Furthermore, Brandon is raped by his friends John and Tom, but this scene in the film seems to be depicted with the perception of a woman being raped by men, rather than a man being raped by men. Therefore, while this film is very important in that it brought the perception of transgenderism to the public's attention, it is problematic in how it portrays transgenderism. By considering the relationship between Brandon and Lana and the meaning of the rape of Brandon by John and Tom, I will prove that Boys Don't Cry does not portray the true nature of Brandon Teena, despite the acclaim it received when it was released, and that the film itself misunderstands those who struggle with gender identity issues such as Brandon's.

Author Information
Miho Morii, Otsuma Women’s University, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: MediAsia2023
Stream: Film Criticism and Theory

This paper is part of the MediAsia2023 Conference Proceedings (View)
Full Paper
View / Download the full paper in a new tab/window

To cite this article:
Morii M. (2023) How Brandon Teena Is Portrayed in “Boys Don’t Cry” ISSN: 2186-5906 – The Asian Conference on Media, Communication & Film 2023: Official Conference Proceedings
To link to this article:

Comments & Feedback

Place a comment using your LinkedIn profile


Share on activity feed

Powered by WP LinkPress

Share this Research

Posted by James Alexander Gordon