Teena Renee Brandon was born in December1972. JoAnne Brandons husband, died in a car crash while JoAnne was pregnant with her. She had another daughter with her late husband, Tammy. It had been a very difficult pregnancy, at one point JoAnne had thought that termination of the pregnancy was the best option but her catholic upbringing kept her from doing it. She had very thick hormone shots while she was in the hospital, and on total bedrest. Teena was very late, well past JoAnns due date. The poor woman was exhausted, waiting and trying to find activities to help induce her labor. She would up having her labor induced and Teena was born. JoAnne adored Teena; she was the last part of her deceased husbands love and Teena was a very sick baby. She was in the hospital for weeks before she was allowed to come home. JoAnne was sick herself, with a staph infection and couldnt see or hold Teena for weeks, which bothered her deeply. She claimed that as she grew older, Teena was always sick with something and JoAnn was continually taking care of her for one childhood illness or another. Both daughters were at opposite ends of The scale: Tammy, the oldest was very feminine. She loved her dolls and dressed in anything with a cute ruffle and ankle socks with lace. Teena loved to get dirty and was mischievous, laughing at her sister scaring her with whatever she could find. As they grew up together, Teena was tomboyish and Tammy was very feminine. Teena wore pants and turned up her nose at dresses and JoAnne never understood why Teena was so adamant about it that it wasnt worth arguing about. She did average work in school, but many teachers thought she was capable of doing much more. Teena didnt care.
In her teenage years,Teena had her share of problems. She stole, lied, and had several unhealthy relationships. The girls she hung around with didnt help, and Teena decided that she would try and join the military. It seemed like something she would be good at, and she started making plans to leave. Unfortunately, she failed the entrance exam and was devastated. It was the only thing she wanted to do, and the rejection was a slap in the face. JoAnne was desperate to help Teena find her place in life, and Teena was slipping farther and farther from her every day. She went to stay with friends, and drifted in and out of JoAnn and Tammys lives. JoAnne found out that Teena was posing as a man and causing grief for the people in her life. The bad checks, stolen credit cards alienated Teena from her family, and she moved out of JoAnns house and in with her Grandmother, where her gay cousin lived. Teena made her decision for good:she was going to live as a man and began to tell people she was having a sex change operation.
In rural Nebraska, transgender issues were non existent. Not many people knew anything other than boy, girl, and gay or straight. And gay wasnt even an option. In the film,Boys Dont Cry By Kimberly Pierce, Brandons story is told against a backdrop of bleak farm fields and intolerant undereducated people who had lived in the same town all their lives and had never seen a gay person, much less having any understanding of complex gender issues. And Teena herself was confused. She loved feeling like a man and the girls who paid attention to her as she made them believe she was a man. She dressed with a sock in her jeans, a pair of mens underwear and a swagger that unnerved JoAnn. He daughter was growing farther and farther away from her. Occasionally a young girl would see Teena, who was by this time calling herself Brandon, and JoAnn would carefully explain that Brandon was a girl, and try to explain that there was no Brandon, just her daughter. Brandon told his girlfriends that his mother was a crazy woman, a drunk who was sick and had wanted to have a daughter, when in reality she had a son named Brandon. He moved on to date several girls, one seriously enough for Brandon to buy a diamond ring Almost everyone knew of rumors about Brandons sexual identity crisis in Lincoln. But Brandon wasnt happy. Confused by her gender disorder and the fact that she was wanted by the police, there wasnt a lot of room for her to get around the local court, so Brandon moved around, crashing at different peoples homes. When she needed something she stole it, or found some way to get the money for whatever it was. Brandon had gone through a transformation and she was no longer Teena, her name was Brandon and her life was about to undergo a change that would eventually wind up costing Brandon her life.