This question of identifying yourself has been torturing the humankind for ages. It was a central topic for numerous works of art, it gave rise to the style of existentialism, and it was discussed by science and religion. Nonetheless, the ultimate answer was never given. The drama “Boys Don’t Cry” directed by Kimberly Peirce was one more attempt to show the complexity of this matter. Being based on a real-life story, the movie depicts the cause of a serious concern even nowadays, which is transgender identity.
The story takes place in a small town of Nebraska. Teena Brandon was born as a woman, however, she felt herself as a male. Being a teenager Brandon used to make friends with local girls acting like a man. Eventually, these dates caused problems, since citizens of the town were aware of the fact that Brandon was a female. One night in bar he got into contact with a company of friends and left the town. Brandon had developed rather close relationships with Lana Tisdel. Unfortunately, the rest of the group had found out about Brandon’s problem and they could not accept it for granted. John Lotter and Tom Nissen raped Brandon. Several days later, the situation had escalated and as a result, John and Tom killed Brandon and another girl Candace. Lana, who had strong feeling to Brandon despite the fact he was a transgender man, had been lying on his dead body all night. The finale of the movie is based on the background narrative letter from Brandon to Lana.
The movie appears to be very dejecting and emotionally saturated. A gloomy setting, low-income background of the characters and even name of the city – Falls City, contribute to the creation of the negative atmosphere. Meticulous acting of Hilary Swank reflected a power of influencing the mind of a viewer by impalpable shadows of emotionality. As the matter of evidence, Hilary Swank became a second actress in the history in world’s cinematography, who had won two Academy Awards by the age of 30.
Turning to the question of transgender identity crisis, one should dwell upon its mental fundamentals. A transgender person is a person whose gender identity does not correlate with biological sex. This term includes individuals who regard themselves to be representatives of the opposite sex as well as people with constant changeable identity of gender. To put it another way, transgender people refer themselves emotionally and psychologically to another sex. Often they feel captured in a “wrong body” and suffer from gender dysphoria. Mostly after an operation of transgender individual may stabilize their inner state. Contrary to popular belief, lesbians, gays and bisexuals do not belong to this category, as far as these individuals feel themselves positively in their bodies, with their sex identity.
Bearing in mind the previous points, one may claim that the movie “Boys Don’t Cry” serves as illustrative material for reflection of transgender identity issue. The most crucial point is the personal feelings of Brandon. The scene where he had made haircut shows childish enthusiasm and satisfaction of a new hair, which brings him closer to male appearance. Deliberate sloppy way of wearing his shirts, smoking cigarettes, drinking alcoholic beverages, which appear to be too strong for him, all these details show Brandon’s fervent desire and mental inclination to be a man. Another proof is the scene after a fight in a bar when Candace noticed a bruise on his temple. Brandon’s smile reflected his radiant excitement with this sign of masculinity – a bruise, a fight, a trouble. Brandon was happy to accept that, to a considerable degree, to be a part of unfortunate company. He was ready to take part in dangerous bumper-riding justifying it with the fact that he had nothing to lose and his life should be interesting.
Even though Brandon feels himself as a man, he has not lost his female features. The girls consider him to be a gentleman claiming that he is the best “boyfriend” they have ever had. Brandon gave compliments, he noticed details, and he treated women tremulously. Perhaps, his inner biological nature dictated him how a woman has to be treated. Brandon was attentive and made the girls experience feelings they had never had before with narrow-minded and rough John and Tom. Brandon was a white sheep in the doomed society of those times. He knew how to enjoy life, how to see happiness in small things, and knew how to cherish the moment.
However, there is an issue of his constant lie. He was forced to lie because the truth was too bitter and other people would not understand him. Brandon was lost in his falsehood, but there was no way back. Although in the end, he had paid off for this decision.
In addition, there was the society and its wrong perception of the problem. Brandon felt rejection, misunderstanding. In the 90s a transgender individuals could not find a support, they were misunderstood and humiliated. One may see that even family members were trying to hide Teena, her mother was moving into different cities, and neighbors gave disapproving looks or even tried to assault Brandon Teena. When Candace felt ashamed because of her name and said she would like to change it, Brandon replied that sometimes that might help. This scene reveals a tragedy of a person who openly admits that it is better to start your life from scratch, when nobody knows who you really are.
To conclude, it should be mentioned that the slogan of the movie is very eloquent and explainable: a true story about finding the courage to be yourself. Brandon tried to apply it, but he was punished for it. He was punished by human pride and shallowness, but boys do not cry.
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