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Lana M. Tisdel (born May 28, 1975) is an American woman whose early life and involvement with the December 1993 murders of Brandon Teena, Phillip DeVine and Lisa Lambert was chronicled in the 1998 documentary The Brandon Teena Story and the 1999 film Boys Don't Cry (which left out DeVine). She was portrayed in the film by Chloë Sevigny, who was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance as Tisdel.
|Born||May 28, 1975|
Falls City, Nebraska, U.S.
Josh Bachman (m. 2001)
|Parent(s)||Linda D. Gutierres (née Halterman), Leland Tisdel|
The director of the film, Kimberly Peirce, worked on the script for many years and interviewed Lana and her mother for details on their life. Peirce also drew information from other sources including All She Wanted by Aphrodite Jones (1996), a biography of Brandon Teena and the lives of those involved with the murders; and a 1994 Village Voice piece written by Donna Minkowitz which was responsible for the story becoming a media sensation in the early 1990s.
In the fall of 1993, Tisdel, aged 18, met Brandon Teena, 20, through their mutual friends. Teena was new to the close-knit area, from Lincoln, Nebraska, and the local crowd was curious about him. Teena and Tisdel began seeing each other, because Tisdel found Teena attractive and believed Brandon was a biological man. He was in fact born female, but identified as male. Tisdel has made it clear that her relationship with Brandon Teena was brief and did not include sex; only lasting about two months from their first meeting until the murder. However, their two-month relationship is described as very intense. Her mother Linda testified that Tisdel would be with Brandon all day, had trouble sleeping, and their relationship was all she cared about during that time.
On December 19, 1993, Brandon Teena was arrested for forging checks, and put in jail for several days. Tisdel found out he was assigned as a female after his birth name (Teena Renae Brandon) was printed in the local newspaper in the arrests section. Tisdel paid to get him out of jail, and he told her that he was undergoing sex reassignment surgery. Tisdel has disputed claims that after the truth was revealed to her, they continued a romantic relationship, but instead she told Brandon that they could still be friends. Tisdel defended Teena often, at one point lying to authorities and telling them she had seen him naked and saw his penis, in hopes they would leave him alone.
Two people that they were friends with during this time were John Lotter and Tom Nissen. Both young men had criminal records, and Teena had been staying with Nissen. Falls City is a small town, and all of these families were well-acquainted; Lana's best friend was Michelle Lotter, John's sister. Initially friendly, Lotter and Nissen soon began to harass Teena and Tisdel and scrutinize their relationship. During a Christmas Eve party, Lotter and Nissen forced Teena to take off his clothes in order to show everyone, including Lana, that he was anatomically female.
The two then kidnapped Teena and took him to a rural area, where they raped and beat him. Afterwards, Teena came to Tisdel's house, and Tisdel and her mother convinced him to speak to the police and go to the hospital. Lotter and Nissen had told Teena that if he told anyone what they did, they would kill him.
A few days later, on New Year's Eve 1993, Lotter and Nissen came to the Tisdel residence drunk and looking for Teena, and threatened the Tisdel sisters. They then drove to the house of Lisa Lambert, where Teena had been hiding out. Also in the house was Phillip Devine, a friend of theirs who was dating Tisdel's sister Leslie. Lisa Lambert was a single mother from Pawnee City, Nebraska, who often let friends stay with her in exchange for their help and company, because she lived outside of town. Lotter and Nissen then shot Teena, Lambert, and Devine to death. Lambert's son Tanner was in the house at the time and was unharmed. Tisdel was not present at the time of the murder, as it took place inside Lambert's home in Humboldt, Nebraska, a 30-minute drive away from Falls City, where Tisdel lived with her mother and sister. The bodies were discovered the next day by Lambert's mother, Anna Mae.
Tisdel, her sister Leslie, and mother Linda were all involved in the criminal trial and later lawsuits that followed the murder and later, movie development. Lana also has other siblings, including a brother, Terry Torrance. The Tisdel family appeared on Maury and A Current Affair, to discuss Brandon Teena and the trial proceedings. The Tisdel family did not get along well with Brandon Teena's mother, Jo Ann Brandon, and his sister, Tammy, who accused Tisdel of being responsible for the murders.
Tisdel sued the creators of Boys Don't Cry for using her name and likeness without permission, and the suit was settled out of court. Leslie Tisdel was vocal about the film's script changes, and upset that her boyfriend who was murdered, Phillip Devine, was not included in the film, nor was she, and instead the film focused on Brandon Teena. There has been scrutiny that the lack of information on Phillip Devine (1974–1993), who was from Iowa, is because he was African American, and Leslie stated she believed he has been left out of the story because of racism. When Boys Don't Cry was released, she petitioned Nebraska movie theatre owners to not show the film. Lisa Lambert's (1969–1993) name was changed to Candace in the movie. Tisdel's mother, Linda Gutierres, who died on December 2, 2003, at age 54, was portrayed in the film by Jeannetta Arnette.
Tanner Lambert graduated from Humboldt High School in 2011, and was raised by his aunt. John Lotter and Tom Nissen are currently in prison, with Nissen serving life imprisonment and Lotter facing execution.
- Nebraska marriage records accessed 3/23/2015
- "United States Public Records, 1970–2009," database, FamilySearch (23 May 2014), Lana M Tisdel, Grant, Nebraska, United States; a third party aggregator of publicly available information.
- All She Wanted. Pocket Books Printing. June 1996. Retrieved February 17, 2015.
- "Woman Who Posed As a Man Is Found Slain". New York Times. January 1994. Retrieved February 17, 2015.
- http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1994-01-17/features/9401170002_1_john-lotter-falls-city-lincoln/3 accessed 2/17/2015
- "Homicide in the Heartland". Advocate Magazine. March 8, 1994. Retrieved February 17, 2015.
- https://caselaw.findlaw.com/ne-supreme-court/1234773.html accessed 2/17/2015
- Brandon Teena murder trial court record accessed 3/23/2015
- "Lincoln Journal Star," December 4, 2003
- https://articles.latimes.com/2000/feb/07/entertainment/ca-61809 accessed 2/17/2015
- http://www.1011now.com/home/headlines/Exclusive_John_Lotter_Death_Row_Interview_151736035.html Archived 2015-02-18 at the Wayback Machine accessed 2/17/2015
-  accessed 3/23/2015
- Gary Bachman obituary, Falls City Journal Archived 2015-02-17 at the Wayback Machine accessed 3/23/2015