The second of the Matrix moviemakers, and sometime comics scripter/publishers (they had their own comics company called Burlyman for a while), has now come out as trans, introducing herself as Lilly Wachowski to the world. (She was formerly billed as Andy; sibling Lana Wachowski, who previously worked as Larry, came out as trans in 2010.) While Lana’s transition was the object of a great deal of speculation over the years, in 2016 Lilly’s coming out seems more “day in the life,” although she was forced to come out when the Daily mail threatened to out her, and that’s pretty disgusting. The Daily Mail is a rag and this just confirms it.
Lilly’s statement is worth a read in it’s entirety at the above link, but here’s an excerpt:
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.
And though we have come a long way since Silence of the Lambs, we continue to be demonized 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 and 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 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.
Now, gender theory and queer theory hurt my tiny brain. The combinations 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 José Muñoz given to me by a good friend. I stare at it in contemplation sometimes trying to decipher its meaning but the last sentence resonates:
“Queerness is essentially about the rejection of a here and now and an insistence on potentiality for 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.
Some took the opportunity to note that the “red pill” so beloved of the MRA movement was created by two trans women:
— Parker Molloy (@ParkerMolloy) March 9, 2016
This whole thing jogged a thought in my mind regarding the lack of people of color in today’s movies, and hopes that a movie with a more inclusive cast could be made. Well, they already were. When the Matrix sequels came out, Reloaded and Revolutions, they presented a future world where the vast majority of the good guys – Zion – were mixed race. There were some token white dudes like Anthony Zerbe, but the Matrix movies posited a future much like the one that many population scientists think we’re heading towards, one that’s firmly multiracial.
Matrix 2 and 3 are pretty reviled in Nerd World (I really liked both films), but not whitewashing the future might be the most daring thing about the movies. I know its been argued that Neo is another White Savior, but that overlooks Keanu Reeves’ own mixed heritage. That said, I can see both sides of it, and it’s not for me to call it. At any rate, The Matrix Trilogy is a great piece of filmmaking and now we know it was made by two brave and brilliant trans women.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.