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Revictimization

Finally, when the transgender identity is an extension and amplification of the victimized daughter's identification with the perpetrator, a divided consciousness continues to inform the survivor's psyche, playing itself out in scenarios of revictimization.

In both the play and imagination of the survivors, a tenuous relationship exists between the internalized male abuser and the violated female child… While the introjection of the perpetrator may at times mask the daughter's identity as victim and thus contribute to the construction of a false persona, patterns of revictimization reveal the extent to which the unprotected and violated female self also inform the personality of the victimized daughter. (Jacobs, 99)

Revictimization was the story of Brandon's short adult life, as she played out serial fraudulent identities that resulted in arrest and incarceration, seduction of under-aged girls who rejected her when they discovered her secret, and increasingly dangerous alliances with violent and homophobic males. Brandon's sexual deceptions, deceptions that escalated after her official diagnosis as transsexual, put her girlfriends at risk in very real ways. Her girlfriends in Lincoln had been teased and harassed by their friends, but when Brandon moved to the more provincial Richardson County, the stakes became even higher. Both of Brandon's Humboldt friends, Lisa Lambert and Lana Tisdel, were being harassed at their workplaces and at social events. One of Lisa's friends described Lisa's dilemma: "Everyone in Humboldt knew about Brandon. Lisa didn't try to hide it. Lisa couldn't believe something like this happened to her. She made it clear that she was too caring to shut Brandon out. She was mad and hurt about it, but she didn't want to hurt him [Brandon], didn't want to turn him out on the streets." (Jones, 205) Her compassion would cost her her life.

Lana's situation was complicated by her friendship with ex-convicts Tom Nissen and John Lotter. When Brandon was arrested for forging checks on December 15, 1993, she had phoned Lana to bail her out, but Lana was horrified to discover that her "boyfriend" was being held in the women's section of the jail. Instead of going herself, Lana sent Tom, her former boyfriend, to bail Brandon out. The arrest was reported that week in the Falls City Journal, making public Brandon's biological identity as female, and, consequently, Lana's participation in what would be perceived as a lesbian relationship. Friends of Brandon believe that the bailing-out was the beginning of a set-up for the subsequent rape. Nissen and Lotter appear to have felt deceived and humiliated by Brandon's gender presentation. In the words of one friend, "He [Brandon] played a player and [the player] got even for it." (private email, December 20, 2004)

According to Jones, however, Lana had attempted to protect Brandon, even after she realized she had been deceived. She told her family and Tom Nissen and John Lotter that she had seen Brandon's penis. But Tom and John were not convinced, and they performed their own investigation—strip-searching her. These were both men with histories of violence, and they decided to take matters into their own hands. It may have been that Lana's safety was seriously compromised once it was known by these men that she had participated in a sexual relationship with a biological female and had lied to protect the fact.

Three days after Brandon had, at Lana's urging, gone to the police to report the rape, the police questioned John and Tom, but did not arrest them. John denied the rape, but said that Lana had asked him to find a way to determine Brandon's sex. On December 30, the two men went to Lana's house looking for Brandon, but Brandon, who was no longer welcome there, had taken shelter at Lisa's farmhouse. Lana reported that John said he "felt like killing someone" and told her she, Lana, was next. This may have been why Lana's mother told them where Brandon was hiding. After they left, no phone calls were made to warn Brandon or Lisa that the men were on their way. Conflicting testimony suggests that Lana may have actually been in the car, or even at the house, on the night of the murders.