Second Wachowski Sibling Comes Out As Transgender, After Threat From Tabloid Reporter
By Jen Chung in Arts & Entertainment on Mar 9, 2016 3:11AM
The second creator behind the Matrix trilogy and other reality-contorting content has come out as transgender today. In a letter released to Windy City Times, writer-director Lilly Wachowski explained why she's making the announcement now. "In response to this threatened public outing against my will," Wachowski wrote. "I had a prepared a statement that was one part piss, one part vinegar and 12 parts gasoline... So yeah, I'm transgender. And yeah, I've transitioned."
Chicago native Wachowski, who has been referred to as Andy Wachowski professionally up through last year's Netflix original drama Sense8, said that while there have been other potential stories about her transition, "The editors of these publications didn't print a story that was only salacious in substance and could possibly have a potentially fatal effect. And being the optimist that I am, I was happy to chalk it up to progress." But then last night, a Daily Mail reporter showed up at her door and strongly implied she should talk to him:
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 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.Wachowski added, "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."
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 the door it began to dawn on me where I had heard of the Daily Mail. It was the "news" organization 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" demonized her as a damaging influence on the children's delicate innocence and summarized "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 all 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 has 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 the victims were trans women of color. These are only the recorded homicides so, since trans people do not all fit in the tidy gender binary statistics of murder rates, it means the actual numbers are higher.
GLAAD issued a statement, "GLAAD is thrilled that Lilly Wachowski is able to be her true and authentic self today, however, she should not have been forced to disclose her transgender identity before she was ready to do so. Journalists must learn that it is unacceptable to out a transgender person, in the same way it is unacceptable to out a person who is gay, lesbian, or bisexual."
Wachowski's sister and creative partner Lana is also transgender and gave an emotional speech in 2012 about facing her fears and how her sibling was extremely supportive, telling her, "If anyone says anything bad about you, I'll break a bottle over their head."
Sense8, which was renewed for a second season, features a transgender character, Nomi, played by a transgender actress, Jamie Clayton, who pointed out that her storyline was incredibly unusual: "Nomi's story has nothing to do with the fact that she’s trans. She just is, and she’s living her life ... as a whole, complete person and no one cares that she’s trans — and they shouldn't because she's a human being."
You can read the full statement at Windy City News; she reflects, "[T]hese 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 in the infinite between the binary of zero and one. We need to elevate the dialogue beyond the simplicity of binary. Binary is a false idol."
Update: The Daily Mail (naturally) denies that it pressured Wachowski, with a spokesperson stating, "As Ms Wachowski says herself, we were not the first media group which approached her and we made absolutely clear at several points in the conversation that we were only interested in doing the story with her cooperation and had no intention of publishing anything without her consent. Our reporter was extremely sympathetic and courteous at all times. We are baffled as to why Ms Wachowski has reacted as she has but we wish her well with her journey."