For my final research paper in our class I will be writing about the appearance and stereotypes of transgendered individuals in the United States and Brazil. In researching for this topic I came across the film Boy Don’t Cry a 1999 Fox movie directed by Kimberly Peirce. This film is based on the real life story of Brandon Teena.
The film, set in a small town in Nebraska, features Hilary Swank as Brandon Teena, a female to male transgendered individual trying to find his way and place in the world. In the opening scene you begin to see the physical transition that Brandon is taking to look in appearance like a male. Shortly after this is a scene where Brandon has what appears to be his first experience with a girl. Later, violent and angry men are pounding on the door of his brother’s trailer looking for the “dike” who hooked up with their friend.
Brandon’s past has not been very great and throughout the movie you can see how he is wanted on charges of theft as well as other deviant criminal acts. After his brother kicks him out of this trailer he is forced to leave in search of a new more promising life. It is while he is at a bar that he meets the “friends” he will spend the remainder of his life with.
While spending time and living with his new friends Brandon falls in love with Lana. Soon the cops are on Brandon’s tail and he is arrested after this fake driver’s license leads the police back to the name Teena Brandon. It is in the paper that Brandon’s new friends first figure out that he is biologically a female.
Two of these friends, John Lotter and Tom Nissen, beat and rape Brandon after they realize he has female anatomy. Brandon files a police report, but before the men can be interrogated they murder him.
I think this movie fits in to my topic very well. It displays the stereotypes and actions that can affect transgendered individuals in the United States, and how the media tends to portray them. In this instance the director had little information other than the interviews of people who knew Brandon and the cold hard facts.
This lack of concrete evidence allowed her to play with the storyline and plot of the movie. Just a few of the stereotypes that continually reinforce our idea of individuals with “sexual identity crisis” are the idea that they are criminals or deviants, that they can provide comic relief, and they are highly sexualized. These aspects can all be seen throughout the movie.
Naked scenes and the sexual intercourse are only a few ways that the director used to show our cultures high dependency on visual proof, and caring more about the bodies sex than the intellectuals sex preference.
Want to see this movie? Check out the trailer!