This past Saturday, Lana Wachowski, one half of the directorial team behind the Matrix and Cloud Atlas, was honored by the Human Rights Campaign with their annual Visibility Award. During the HRC gala, Wachowski gave a moving 30-minute speech discussing the pain and confusion of growing up trangender. The entire speech (watchable in the video below) is funny, gentle, moving and well worth a listen, but we'll pull some highlights for you.
On receiving the award:
So I'm at my hairdresser's. He's gay, go figure. I say yeah, the HRC wants to give me an award. Award for what? I say, "I guess for kind of being myself." He's like playing with my hair and looking at me and he's like, "Yeah, I guess you make a pretty good you." And I was like, yeah, "Yeah, well there wasn't a lot of competition." And ‘cause hes a catty bitch he said, "Yeah, it's a good thing — just imagine if you had lost."
On people's inability to accept her for who she is:
I was recently out to dinner with a mixture of friends and strangers who were all very excited to meet a "Hollywood" director...Throughout the dinner they repeatedly refer to me as "he" or one of the "Wachowski Brothers," sometimes using half my name, "Laaaaaa," as an awkward bridge between identities, unable or perhaps unwilling to see me as I am, but only for the things I do.
On promotion for Cloud Atlas:
It will be the first time that I speak publicly since my transition. Parenthetically this is a word that has very complicated subject for me because of its complicity in a binary gender narrative that I am not particularly comfortable with...I have been out to my family and friends for over a decade and for the majority of that time I have been discussing this, this particular moment with my therapist, with my family and my wife because I know eventually I will do it but I know there is going to be a price for it. I knew I was going to come out but I knew when I finally did come out I didn't want it to be about my coming out. I am completely horrified by the "talk show," the interrogation and confession format, the weeping, the tears of the host whose sympathy underscores the inherent tragedy of my life as a transgender person. And this moment fulfilling the cathartic arc of rejection to acceptance without ever interrogating the pathology of a society that refuses to acknowledge the spectrum of gender in the exact same blind way they have refused to see a spectrum of race or sexuality.
She goes on to discuss her youth, her depression, the support from her family and the transition itself, giving those of us fortunate enough to have been born into the right bodies a chance to see a sliver of the transgender (or at least a transgender) experience. Even if Wachowski is a reluctant spokeswoman for the trans community, she certainly seems to be doing lovely job.