Kimberly Peirce was writing her college film thesis about a female soldier dressed in drag during the American Civil War when she read an article about Brandon Teena. Teena was a transgender male who was murdered after locals in his small Nebraska town found out about his gender history.

Peirce shifted her thesis and created a short film about Brandon Teena, interviewing his family members and residents of the town, and attending the murder trial of the suspects. Peirce’s short film was so well-received that it was made into a full-length feature film. Boys Don’t Cry wowed critics and won several awards, including an Academy Award for Hilary Swank, who played Teena.

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