News has been breaking this morning that acclaimed filmmaker Lilly Wachowski has come out as transgender, joining her sister Lana, who came out in 2012. The two directors are perhaps best known for The Matrix trilogy, as well as having worked on films such as V for Vendetta, Cloud Atlas, Speed Racer and Jupiter Ascending, as well as the hit Netflix series Sense8.
Lilly released a statement through her local Chicago newspaper, Windy City Times, addressing her transition following threats from several news outlets, particularly the British Daily Mail, to publicly out her against her will.
Her statement reads as follows;
‘SEX CHANGE SHOCKER – WACHOWSKI BROTHERS NOW SISTERS!!!
‘That’s the headline I’ve been waiting for this past year. Up until now with dread and/or eye rolling exasperation. The ‘news’ has almost come out a couple of times. Each was preceded with an ominous email from my agent – reporters have been asking for statements regarding the ‘Andy Wachowski gender transition’ story they were about to publish. In response to this public outing against my will, I had prepared a statement that was one part piss, one part vinegar and 12 parts gasoline.
‘I had a lot of politically relevant insights regarding the dangers of outing trans people, and the statistical horrors of transgender suicide and murder rates. Not to mention a slightly sarcastic wrap-up that ‘revealed’ my father had injected praying mantis blood into his paternal ball-sac before conceiving each of his children to produce a brood of super women, hellbent on female domination. Okay, mega sarcastic.
‘But it didn’t happen. The editors of these publications didn’t print a story that was only salacious in substance and could possibly have a potential fatal effect. And being the optimist that I am, I was happy to chalk it up to progress.
‘Then last night while getting ready to go out for dinner my doorbell rang. Standing on my front porch was a man I did not recognise.
”This might be a little awkward’, he said in an English accent.
‘I remember sighing.
‘Sometimes it’s really tough work to be an optimist.
He proceeded to explain he was a journalist from the Daily Mail, which was the largest news service in the UK and was most definitely not a tabloid. And that I really had to sit down with him tomorrow or the next day or the next week so that I could have my picture taken and tell my story which was so inspirational! And that I really didn’t want to have someone from the National Enquirer following me around did I? BTW – The Daily Mail is so definitely not a tabloid.
‘My sister Lana and I have largely avoided the press. I find talking about my art frustratingly tedious and talking about myself a wholly mortifying experience. I knew at some point I would have to come out publicly. You know, when you’re living as an out transgender person it’s…kind of difficult to hide. I just wanted – needed some time to get my head right, to feel comfortable.
‘But apparently I don’t get to decide this.
‘After he had given me his card, and I closed my door it began to dawn on me where I had heard of the Daily Mail. It was the ‘news’ organisation that had played a huge part in the national public outing of Lucy Meadows, an elementary school teacher and trans woman in the UK. An editorial in the ‘not-a-tabloid’ demonised her as a damaging influence on the children’s delicate innocence and summarised ‘he’s not only trapped in the wrong body, he’s in the wrong job’. The reason I knew about her wasn’t because she was transgender it was because three months after the Daily Mail article came out, Lucy committed suicide.
‘And now here they were, at my front door, almost as if to say –
”There’s another one! Let’s drag ’em out in the open so we can have a look!’
‘Being transgender is not easy. We live in a majority-enforced gender binary world. This means when you’re transgender you have to face the hard reality of living the rest of your life in a world that is openly hostile to you.
‘I am one of the lucky ones. Having the support of my family and the means to afford doctors and therapists have given me the chance to actually survive this process. Transgender people without support, means and privilege do not have this luxury. And many do not survive. In 2015, the transgender murder rate hit an all time high in this country. A horrifying disproportionate number of victims were transgender women of colour. These are only the recorded homicides so, since trans people do not fit in the tidy gender binary statistics of murder rates, it means the actual number is higher.
‘And though we have come a long way since Silence of the Lambs, we continue to be demonised and vilified in the media where attack ads portray us as potential predators to keep us from even using the goddamn bathroom. The so-called bathroom bills that are popping up all over this country do not keep children safe, they force trans people into using bathrooms where they can be beaten or murdered. We are not predators, we are prey.
‘So yeah, I’m transgender.
‘And yeah, I’ve transitioned.
‘I’m out to my friends and family. Most people at work know too. Everyone is cool with it. Yes, thanks to my fabulous sister they’ve done it before, but also because they’re fantastic people. Without the love and support of my wife and friends and family I would not be where I am today.
‘But these words, ‘transgender’ and ‘transitioned’ are hard for me because they both have lost their complexity in their assimilation into the mainstream. There is a lack of nuance of time and space. To be transgender is something largely understood as existing within the dogmatic terminus of male or female. And to ‘transition’ imparts a sense of immediacy, a before and after from one terminus to another. But the reality, my reality is that I’ve been transitioning and will continue to transition all of my life, through the infinite that exists between male and female as it does between the binary of zero and one. We need to elevate the dialogue beyond the simplicity of binary. Binary is a false idol.
‘Now, gender theory and queer theory hurt my tiny brain. The combination of words, like freeform jazz, clang disjointed and discordant in my ears. I long for understanding of queer and gender theory but it’s a struggle as is the struggle for understanding of my own identity. I have a quote in my office though by Josa Munoz given to me by a good friend. I stare at it in contemplation sometimes trying to decipher it’s meaning but the last sentence resonates:
”Queerness is essentially about the rejection of here and now and an insistence on potentiality of another world.
‘So I will continue to be an optimist adding my shoulder to the Sisyphean struggle of progress and in my very being, be an example of the potentiality of another world.
As Lilly has stated, this is not the first time that the media outlet The Daily Mail has attempted to publicly out a transgender person, and in the past it has lead to people’s deaths. Luckily for Lilly she had the strength and courage to break the news herself before the media took that right away from her.