Watch Lana Wachowski's Moving Speech About Her Transgender Experience

Illustration for article titled Watch Lana Wachowskis Moving Speech About Her Transgender Experience

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.


Lana Wachowski Reveals Suicide Plan, Painful Past in Emotional Speech [THR]

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Ugh, that hair is super cool. I'm always jealous of people who can rock a 'do like that, and I just can't. I mean, literally can't. I've tried. It wasn't pretty. It looks super good on her, though.

Honest question; regarding the problem with people referring to her incorrectly as "he" or apparently not KNOWING what to say... is it considered impolite to, like... ask? I mean, I haven't met any transgendered people myself personally, but this is the sort of social anxiety that keeps me up at night. I wouldn't want to offend, and I would want to address someone in the manner they were comfortable with and identified with, and I had THOUGHT just saying, "Excuse me, but do you prefer to be called he or she orrrrr.... ?" was simple enough, but now I'm wondering if that's rude and I should just KNOW? Should you, like... I dunno... go with the gender they appear to be identifying with until they correct you? But some people have conflicting feelings on that, so maybe asking is safer?

I just want to be nice to people and meet interesting people and maybe not fuck it up by offending anyone. Yes, I overthink things. I just don't want to upset anyone.