A young man named Brandon Teena navigates love, life, and being transgender in rural Nebraska.


Kimberly Peirce
2,264 ( 317)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 49 wins & 38 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Hilary Swank ... Brandon Teena
Chloë Sevigny ... Lana Tisdel
Peter Sarsgaard ... John Lotter
Brendan Sexton III ... Tom Nissen
Alicia Goranson ... Candace
Alison Folland ... Kate
Jeannetta Arnette ... Lana's Mom
Rob Campbell ... Brian
Matt McGrath ... Lonny
Cheyenne Rushing Cheyenne Rushing ... Nicole
Robert Prentiss Robert Prentiss ... Trucker
Josh Ridgway Josh Ridgway ... Kwik Stop Cashier
Craig Erickson Craig Erickson ... Trucker in Kwik Stop
Stephanie Sechrist Stephanie Sechrist ... April
Jerry Haynes ... Judge


Based on actual events. Brandon Teena is the popular new guy in a tiny Nebraska town. He hangs out with the guys, drinking, cussing, and bumper surfing, and he charms the young women, who've never met a more sensitive and considerate young man. Life is good for Brandon, now that he's one of the guys and dating hometown beauty Lana; however, he's forgotten to mention one important detail. It's not that he's wanted in another town for GTA and other assorted crimes, but that Brandon Teena was actually born a woman named Teena Brandon. When his best friends make this discovery, Brandon's life is ripped apart. Written by Zhe

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A true story about finding the courage to be yourself.

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence including an intense brutal rape scene, sexuality, language and drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Peter Sarsgaard and Chloë Sevigny later appeared in Shattered Glass (2003), which is also based on real events. See more »


The cuts and bruises on Brandon's face change while he talks to Lana inside the shack. See more »


Tom Nissen: Think they'd recognize her if we chopped off her head and her hands?
See more »

Crazy Credits

A special thanks to all of the transmen and butch dykes who helped, advised and auditioned for this project and supported the process of bringing this story to the screen. See more »

Alternate Versions

The Indian Board of Censorship cut 2 minutes from the original run time.
  • Deleted the visuals of bare breasts of Lana while Lana and Brandon are making love.
  • Deleted the visuals of bare breasts of Lana in the flashback scene.
  • Deleted the visuals of bare breast of Lana while they make love in the car.
  • The visuals of John and Tom brutalizing Brandon was reduced to a flash (Length Retained: 4.00 ft).
  • Deleted the words "motherfucker" and "cocksucker".
The film was given an 'A' rating (adults only) with a certification number CFL/3/90/2000-MUM. See more »


Referenced in American Dad!: Helping Handis (2006) See more »


Burning House of Love
Written by Exene Cervenka and John Doe
Performed by X
Published by Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp. (BMI) o/b/o itself and Eight Twelve Music
Courtesy of Elektra Recording Group
By Arrangement with Warner Special Products
See more »

User Reviews

Brilliant film, but a few pointers...
26 March 2002 | by Zen BonesSee all my reviews

The mark of a great film is that it conveys real feeling to an audience without having to explain everything by the numbers. This film achieves that, obviously. It has deeply moved anyone with even half a heart. Unfortunately, the subject matter of this film is SO unfamiliar to most people, that many have no understanding of what it was about. That's not their fault, nor Ms. Peirce's since had she spelled it all out to us, what we would have seen was a competent TV-type movie of the week, instead of a powerhouse of a film that touches us to the depths of our souls. But I think after reading so many of the reviews here at IMDB, some important facts should be understood.

Brandon was not a "male impersonator" or a lesbian, or crazy. He was a pre-operative female-to-male transsexual. That is, he was a male before the necessary physical transition that a transsexual goes through (ie. hormones and surgery) before he can be "officially" be declared a man. He was not a liar. He was a walking contradiction. He was as much a man as he would have been had he had the chance to undergo the biological and surgical transition. Because his body had not caught up with his mind, it's understandable that many people are confused about this. But hopefully, this fact will help audiences understand the confusion that Brandon felt. He was raised to believe, like all of us are, that what decides a person's gender is their anatomy, so the fact that his body was a lie to him all his life made it nearly impossible to live with the contradiction of what he organically knew to be the truth in his mind. Once he finally expressed his true self to the world by donning the physical appearance of 'Brandon', he could no longer go back to being 'Teena'. The cat was out of the bag. Imagine yourself as a man who knows that in order to not live a "lie" he must be called "Teena" and dress as a female every day of his life in order to join the workforce or socialize with other people. Once he'd fully established himself as the man he was, he could not subject himself to 'female drag', for what would have been numerous years for him (sex reassignment surgery costs tens of thousands of dollars and takes one to three years, once the process is started).

A reviewer here wrote "why Brandon chose to live there (Nebraska) with her lifestyle is beyond me." I'd like to kindly explain to this viewer and others who share the same sentiment that the answer to that puzzler is that Brandon was not a "her" and his reality was not a "lifestyle". Many people 'disagree' with this very fact. Thus, it is understandable that had Brandon gone to San Francisco, Paris, or Timbuktu, he would have confronted the same confusion and frustration, and unfortunately hostility and violence, no matter where he went. There are simply millions of people who do not understand transsexualism, thus it is common that their confusion leads to simply believing that it is the transsexual who is confused. I am not blaming anyone for these sentiments. It's only in recent years (mostly thanks to the internet) that there has been detailed study of female-to-male transsexualism. There are millions of female-to-male transsexuals throughout the world, and sadly most of them have suffered much of the pain that Brandon suffered until they became aware that they were not alone. Had the internet been available to Brandon during his lifetime, he would have had an opportunity to see that he was not alone, and that there were others like him who could lend him their support and guidance.

I'm most grateful to Ms. Peirce for making such a brave and deeply touching film, and I hope that viewers will, whether they understand Brandon or not, find an even deeper layer of tolerance for people who are quite different from themselves.

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Official Sites:

Fox Searchlight





Release Date:

31 March 2000 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Take It Like a Man See more »

Filming Locations:

USA See more »


Box Office


$2,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$73,720, 10 October 1999

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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