Her Article Inspired Boys Don't Cry. She's Apologizing for It

Donna Minkowitz returns to the pages of the 'Village Voice'
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 22, 2018 8:51 AM CDT
Her Article Inspired Boys Don't Cry. She's Apologizing for It
This Feb. 21,1996 file photo shows John Lotter, center, being escorted from the Richardson County Courthouse in Falls City, Neb., after being sentenced to death for the December 1993 murders of Brandon Teena, Phillip DeVine, and Lisa Lambert, a crime that inspired the movie "Boys Don't Cry."   (AP Photo/St. Joseph News-Press, Eric Keith, file)

The April 19, 1994, issue of the Village Voice ran a story called "Love Hurt" by Donna Minkowitz. It was the story of Brandon Teena, the 21-year-old transgender man murdered on the preceding New Year's Eve in Nebraska, a story that gave rise to the film Boys Don't Cry. Now Minkowitz is back in the Village Voice with an admission: That the piece, which director Kimberly Peirce told Minkowitz made her fall "in love with Brandon," "proved to be the most insensitive and inaccurate piece of journalism I have ever written." What follows is an apology that Minkowitz says has been a long time coming. At the root of it is what she describes as a massive and extreme ignorance about transpeople, "that being trans had nothing to do with whether you were straight or gay."

Minkowitz explains that she "conjectured" that the sexual abuse Brandon had suffered at the hands of an uncle and a high-school rape caused him to hate his female breasts and genitalia, painting Brandon as a lesbian who decided to live as a man as "a choice made in fear, motivated by internalized homophobia." Seeking to right the article's "implicit anti-trans framing," Minkowitz goes on to produce a new version of the story, one that weaves in Minkowitz's own identity as a lesbian who was abused as a child, reports on tidbits in her nearly 25-year-old notes that she failed to recognize as important, uses the pronoun "he" for Teena, and describes what she hates most about the original piece: its final two-word sentence. Read her full piece here. (More Longform stories.)

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