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(Photo: Lilly Wachowski & Windy City Times)
By Seth Abramovitch, The Hollywood Reporter
The second half of the directing duo known as the Wachowskis has come out as transgender.
Lilly Wachowski, 48, sibling of Lana Wachowski, 50, issued a statement to Windy City Times that begins, “SEX CHANGE SHOCKER—WACHOWSKI BROTHERS NOW SISTERS!!!”
Read the statement in full here.
Another outlet threatened to out the younger Wachowski, leading to the surprise announcement, which, Lilly writes, she had been anticipating with “dread and/or eye rolling exasperation.”
“The ‘news’ has almost come out a couple of times,” Wachowski writes. “Each was preceded by an ominous email from my agent — reporters have been asking for statements regarding the 'Andy Wachowski gender transition’ story they were about to publish.”
Wachowski goes on to recount an incident in which a reporter from the Daily Mail recently showed up at her home to elicit an exclusive on her gender transition.
“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,” Wachowski writes. “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 U.K.”
Meadows had fatally poisoned herself in 2013 following a Daily Mail story headlined, “He’s not only in the wrong body … he’s in the wrong job.” The story, which outed Meadows as a teacher, asked if anyone had thought of the “devastating effect” her gender transition would have on her students.
After making the connection, Wachowski decided instead to come out on her own terms.
“So yeah,” she writes. “I’m transgender.”
Lilly cites one classic film — 1991’s The Silence of the Lambs — as having “demonized and vilified” the transgender community for its depiction of the serial-killer character Jame “Buffalo Bill” Gumb, played in the film by Ted Levine. While the media has since come “a long way” in transgender acceptance, she writes, “so-called bathroom bills … do not keep children safe. [T]hey force trans people into using bathrooms where they can be beaten and/or murdered.”
“We are not predators, we are prey,” Wachowski says.
Lilly’s sister Lana Wachowski (Photo by Paul A. Hebert/Invision/AP, File)
Lilly’s sister, Lana, came out as transgender on Oct. 20, 2012, in a funny, honest and deeply moving speech delivered at the Human Rights Campaign’s gala fundraising dinner in San Francisco.
She was joined at the time by Lilly, their parents and Lana’s wife.
“There are some things we do for ourselves, but there are some things we do for others. I am here because when I was young, I wanted very badly to be a writer, I wanted to be a filmmaker, but I couldn’t find anyone like me in the world, and it felt like my dreams were foreclosed simply because my gender was less typical than others. If I can be that person for someone else, then the sacrifice of my private civic life may have value,” Lana said in her speech.
“I knew that I would [come out] eventually,” Lana later told The Hollywood Reporter. “But it was interesting that I didn’t want to inhabit the memory too closely. A lot of them are very painful memories.”
Among them: Lana once suffered a physical beating at the hands of a Catholic school nun after she failed to join a line of boys. She also nearly committed suicide as a young adult before being stared down by a man who wandered onto an empty subway platform where she was standing.
“I don’t know why he wouldn’t look away,” Lana had revealed in her speech. “All I know is that because he didn’t, I am still here.”
Together, the Wachowskis have directed seven features, including the Matrix trilogy, Speed Racer and Cloud Atlas. They also co-created the Netflix series Sense8, a science-fiction fantasy about a group of people linked psychically, which explores transgender themes and stars transgender actress Jamie Clayton.
Eddie Redmayne, who played trailblazing transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl, recently told THR that Lana Wachowski — who with Lilly had directed him in 2015’s Jupiter Ascending — was a great resource to him while preparing for the role.
“She talked in depth and wonderful detail about [Elbe’s] art and also extraordinary things about that period. How architecture had gotten more feminine with art nouveau, how the notions of gender were beginning to change in the 1920s, with women’s clothing becoming more boyish and haircuts getting shorter. She was just so articulate on so many subjects,” said Redmayne.
In a statement issued to its blog, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation wrote that it was “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,” GLAAD said.
According to Jay Brown, director of research for HRC, the largest LGBT advocacy group in the U.S., “there is very limited data on transgender people and we really don’t know what the likelihood is of trans siblings. But in the same way that there are many families with gay siblings, we are certainly aware of families with trans siblings.”
“It’s incredible to see Lilly Wachowski join her sister today in living openly, authentically and becoming a courageous role model for others,” Brown tells THR.