illy Wachowski, one half of the notoriously private, movie-making sibling team behind the Matrixmovies, has come out as a transgender woman — but it wasn’t on her own timetable.
She says she went public now to pre-empt getting outed against her will by Britain’s Daily Mail in a salacious story headlined, “Sex change shocker: Wachowski brothers now sisters!”
The 48-year-old was adamant that her story not be told by The Daily Mail, which had printed a December 2012 op-ed piece about a transgender teacher named Lucy Meadows who committed suicide four months later. A 2013 inquest by Britain’s Press Complaints Commission labeled their story as “character assassination.”
“So, yeah, I’m transgender,” she wrote in an open letter posted on the website of her hometown’s LBGT media outlet Windy City Times. “And yeah, I’ve transitioned.”
“I knew at some point I would have to come out publicly,” Wachowski wrote, noting that tabloids had previously threatened to run the story. “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.”
LBGT groups such as GLAAD strongly object to publicly outing someone before they are ready to tell the story themselves.
“I’m out to my friends and family,” she explained. “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.”
Lilly has been married to Alisa Blasingame since 1991.
Her elder sister, 50-year-old Lana Wachowski (born Laurence) publicly acknowledged her transition in 2012. While accepting the Human Rights Campaign’s Visibility Award, Lana confessed that her feelings of gender confusion once had driven her to consider suicide. “There are some things we do for ourselves,” she said, “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.”
Fast-forward four years Lilly’s announcement.
She says she considers herself 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.”
While acknowledging, “we have come a long way since Silence of the Lambs,” that didn’t mean Lilly didn’t harbor any fears about coming out in 2016. “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.”
In Lilly’s experience, the terms “transgender” and “transition” don’t tell the whole story, either.
“To be transgender is something largely understood as existing within the dogmatic terminus of male or female,” she wrote. “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.”
She echoed Lana’s speech when she closed her essay with her new mission statement: “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.”