Lana M. Tisdel (born May 28, 1975) was the girlfriend of Brandon Teena, a transgender male who was raped and murdered in Humboldt, Nebraska on December 31, 1993. Her involvement in the murder was chronicled in the 1998 documentary The Brandon Teena Story as well as the 1999 biographical film Boys Don't Cry, in which she was portrayed by actress Chloë Sevigny, who was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance.
In the fall of 1993, Lana Tisdel, aged 19, 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 dating because Tisdel found Teena attractive, believing he was cisgender male. He was in fact assigned female at birth 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, the two months of the couple's 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, 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 Teena told her that he was undergoing a sex change operation. Tisdel has disputed claims that after he revealed that he was a female they continued a romantic relationship, but instead she told Brandon that they could still be friends. Tisdel was often put into the position of having to defend Brandon, even 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 who they were friends with at the time were John Lotter and Tom Nissen. Both men had had criminal records and Teena had lived with Nissen for a short time. Falls City, Nebraska, being a small town, meant that a lot of these families were well acquainted, and Lana's best friend was Michelle Lotter, John's sister. Although initially friendly, Lotter and Nissen soon began to harass Teena and Tisdel and scrutinize their relationship. During a Christmas Eve party, Lotter and Nissen crossed the line and forced Teena to take off her clothes, to show everyone, including Lana, that he was female-bodied.
The two eventually kidnapped and then drove Teena to a rural area and beat and raped him. Afterwards, Teena escaped to Tisdel's house, where 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.
Days later on New Years Eve, Lotter and Nissen came to the Tisdel residence drunk looking for Teena, and threatened Lana and her sister. They then drove to the house of Lisa Lambert, where Teena had been living. 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 for extra help, and company because she lived out of town. Her toddler Tanner was also in the house. Both men forced their way inside and murdered Teena, Lambert, and DeVine with fatal gunshot wounds. Lambert's son Tanner was left unharmed. Tisdel was not present at the house at the time of the murder as depicted in the film Boys Don't Cry, but was safely at her home 30 minutes away in Falls City with her mother and sister. The bodies were discovered the next day by Lambert's mother, Anna Mae.
Lana 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 do not get along with Teena's mother, Jo Ann Brandon, and his sister, Tammy, who accused Lana 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. Her sister Leslie was very vocal about the film's script changes, and was 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 controversy that Phillip DeVine (1974 - 1993) wasn't included in the film because he was African American, and Leslie has 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 film. Tisdel's mother Linda Gutierrez, who died in 2003, at age 54, was portrayed in the film by Jeannetta Arnette.
Lisa Lambert's son Tanner Lambert graduated from Falls City High School in 2011, and was raised by his aunt. John Lotter and Tom Nissen are currently in prison, John awaiting on death row and Tom serving a life sentence.
Lana Tisdel graduated from Falls City High School in 1992. She married Josh Bachman in 2001 and currently lives in Centralia, Kansas with their children. Centralia is an hour drive south of Falls City.
On July 4, 2012, Tisdel was involved in a car accident when she veered off the side of the road and hit a piece of farming equipment.