20 years ago tonight Brandon Teena was murdered. Two friends, Lisa Lambert and Philip DeVine, were killed with him.
20 years ago the trans community protested that Brandon was not killed because he was a “lesbian” but because of his gender identity, which in turn triggered the organizing and anger of the contemporary trans community.
20 years after his death, so much has changed — much of it for the good, but so, so much still needs changing. Guys like him — living on the outskirts of mainstream society, with little parental support, so little money, who (want to) transition at a young ago but who have almost no access to good, trans-friendly healthcare — are still under-represented and under-served.
We still don’t have a non-discrimination law that protects trans people from employment, housing, or other forms of discrimination. There is, in part due to his murder, a hate crimes law which included gender identity.
Despite the fact that trans people still face enormous levels of violence and discrimination, more and more are coming out; more and more are getting involved in what VP Biden called “the civil rights issue of our times”. More and more allies who aren’t trans are paying attention. All of which is great, but still.
He would have turned 41 this year. I wish he had.