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"I began to believe voices in my head -- that I was a freak, that I am broken, that there is something wrong with me, that I will never be lovable."
October 24, 2012 10:10 AM   Subscribe

"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."
On Saturday, Lana Wachowski (co-director of the "Matrix" franchise and "Cloud Atlas") received a "Visibility Award" from the Human Rights Campaign for her recent decision to publicly come out as transgender. In a powerful 25-minute acceptance speech, Lana spoke about the pain she went through growing up and how she developed self-acceptance. Video. Transcript. Q&A with the Hollywood Reporter.
posted by zarq (76 comments total) 51 users marked this as a favorite

 
She spoke about planning her own suicide, which may be disturbing to some readers.
posted by zarq at 10:14 AM on October 24, 2012


Lana was Larry before 2002, if you're wondering which Wachowski she was
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 10:18 AM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Watched Matrix a couple days ago for the first time since I heard about this. It's pretty interesting viewing in light. Look how nearly identical Trinity and Neo are, for instance. And all the dualism takes on new meaning. Not to mention the "all the sentinels are punchy, lantern-jawed men and the Oracle is a woman baking cookies" stuff.
posted by DU at 10:19 AM on October 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


In the original plans for the first Matrix movie "Switch" was intended to be a transgendered character, having a "male" form in the real world and a "female" one in the Matrix.
posted by The Whelk at 10:21 AM on October 24, 2012 [49 favorites]


The DC Office of Human Rights have been running an absolutely fantastic "Gender Identity Respect" ad campaign across the city for the past few weeks.

It's really nice to see trans-respect and awareness being talked about at the forefront.
posted by schmod at 10:23 AM on October 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


I think that there may be a parallel to be drawn between the Wachowskis and Turing, and how their experiences are reflected in their creative focus on artificial intelligence and simulation.
posted by empath at 10:36 AM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


In the original plans for the first Matrix movie "Switch" was intended to be a transgendered character, having a "male" form in the real world and a "female" one in the Matrix.
posted by The Whelk at 10:21 AM on 10/24
[1 favorite +] [!]


That's so cool and I wished they had left it that way.
posted by gc at 10:37 AM on October 24, 2012 [10 favorites]


And I think the Neoplatonic influences on the matrix become more interesting, what with platonism's distinction between ideal forms and reality.
posted by empath at 10:37 AM on October 24, 2012


In the original plans for the first Matrix movie "Switch" was intended to be a transgendered character, having a "male" form in the real world and a "female" one in the Matrix.

Someone actually wrote a pretty good short fanfic along similar lines for Yuletide last year!
posted by Narrative Priorities at 10:45 AM on October 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think I’m safe, but then she takes me home and she’s trying to understand what happened, but I have no real language to describe it. I just stare at the floor and she keeps asking me over and over what happened. And I begin feeling the same mounting frustration, the same mounting fury that I felt with the nun. She tells me to look at her but I don’t want to, because when I do I am unable to understand why she cannot see me.So this bit triggered some memories for me, wow.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 10:46 AM on October 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


He said, “Look, if my kid wants to sit down and talk to me I’m a lucky man. What matters is that you’re alive, you seem happy, and that I can put my arms around you and give you a kiss.” [applause] Having good parents is just like the lottery. You’re just like, “Oh my god, I won the lottery! What the -- I didn’t do anything!”

Amen.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:53 AM on October 24, 2012 [19 favorites]


When my dad arrived he shrugged it off easier than accepting that his wife and daughter had once voted for Jane Byrne instead of Harold Washington [for Chicago mayor in 1983] -- a choice that still rankles him today. He said, “Look, if my kid wants to sit down and talk to me I’m a lucky man. What matters is that you’re alive, you seem happy, and that I can put my arms around you and give you a kiss.” [applause] Having good parents is just like the lottery. You’re just like, “Oh my god, I won the lottery! What the -- I didn’t do anything!”

Who blew all that dust in here?
posted by chavenet at 10:54 AM on October 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Lana was Larry before 2002, if you're wondering which Wachowski she was

Part of me wants to call out this comment as playing into the insistence that a trans person's former name always be mentioned. It's inevitable that any article mentioning one Wachowski mentions the other and it's a pretty good bet the one you remember being called Andy is the one currently being called Andy, meaning you can work out Lana has to be the one you remember being called Larry. On the other hand the Q&A link does get most of the way through without mentioning Andy. Then again, if you can remember both their names, you probably already knew Lana was called Lana.
posted by hoyland at 11:00 AM on October 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


It's great that the Human Rights Campaign decides to honor a Hollywood Idol Like Lana and throw a big party for Hollywood bigwigs and get all that great press which undoubtedly leads to more donations. I think that's super.

What would have been even better is if the Human Rights campaign actually had a track record of supporting transgender people. For example, in 2009 the HRC decided not to include the medically necessary procedures needed for transgender transition into their LGBT medical legislation. In 2008 the NRC decided to exclude transgender people from their ENDA employment discrimination legislation. In 2011 the HRC released a press release for marriage equality which failed to mention transgender people . So it's great that HRC gets to throw a party for transgender awareness - yay us - but it would be greater if they actually supported transgender people where it counted.
posted by Podkayne of Pasadena at 11:04 AM on October 24, 2012 [29 favorites]


Aaaand now I want to go watch Archer.

But seriously, this is good. The more positive public attention that trans people get, the better, considering that they seem to be the outsiders even within the LGBT world.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:04 AM on October 24, 2012


Part of me wants to call out this comment as playing into the insistence that a trans person's former name always be mentioned. It's inevitable that any article mentioning one Wachowski mentions the other and it's a pretty good bet the one you remember being called Andy is the one currently being called Andy, meaning you can work out Lana has to be the one you remember being called Larry. On the other hand the Q&A link does get most of the way through without mentioning Andy. Then again, if you can remember both their names, you probably already knew Lana was called Lana.

I knew both of the Wachowski's birth names and did not already know that Lana was called Lana, or indeed that she had transitioned genders. I clicked into the comments specifically looking for this information.

I would wager that a lot of people know the Wachowski's names from the Matrix period when they were hotshots but don't actively follow news about them, especially since they haven't produced any work worth watching in a decade or so. I was even cautiously excited about V For Vendetta (and we all know how that turned out) but I don't ever remember hearing the name Lana mentioned in any of the press.
posted by IAmUnaware at 11:22 AM on October 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


>>In the original plans for the first Matrix movie "Switch" was intended to be a transgendered character, having a "male" form in the real world and a "female" one in the Matrix.

>That's so cool and I wished they had left it that way.


It could be tragic. Imagine you escape the "fake" world and find that you're "really" a different gender.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:22 AM on October 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Podkayne of Pasadena: "So it's great that HRC gets to throw a party for transgender awareness - yay us - but it would be greater if they actually supported transgender people where it counted."

Highlighting this because yes. This is not an untainted happy pill, and it's very easy for the HRC and similar organisations to support us when there's a nice story to tell with a celebrity in it and everyone's okay in the end but apparently much harder to keep that up when there might be political capital at stake.

I messed up the formatting in my other comment but missed the edit window, ouch.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 11:25 AM on October 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


Imagine you escape the "fake" world and find that you're "really" a different gender.

Now imagine that concept was "Being 10 years old"
posted by Podkayne of Pasadena at 11:25 AM on October 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Just popped in to say I'm hyped to see Cloud Atlas! I've also enjoyed the press around it, most of the articles I've read have been very respectful. Often times the only paragraph where her TS history was mentioned was via a quote by Lana herself.

(and she's ridiculoid cute, btw)
posted by Theta States at 11:34 AM on October 24, 2012


Local/regional singer in the NW went through full-op transgender switch (female to male) several years ago. My then-girlfriend and I were vending at a faire he (formerly she) performed at, and had the booth closest to the stage. I had no idea who this guy was, but he spoke of "inheriting" the music library and making his piece with "her" dog. I had NO idea what had happened. Said performer had a fairly significant following, including my then-girlfriend... and so I asked her, "Hey, did something happen to Heather? This guy's up there talking about inheriting the music library..."

GF paid more attention to the performance, recognized the song but not the performer, grew very upset and ran to the table selling CDs for all the musical acts at the faire. There was a general gag rule about speaking on the transgender op, but with someone visibly tearing up they came out and told her about the op.

The thing that amazed me the most was that the transition seemed so smooth (of course, I'm an outsider and not part of the following), and that said performer got his voice back in shape so quickly after it had changed dramatically in tone.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:36 AM on October 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


I was even cautiously excited about V For Vendetta (and we all know how that turned out)

It was a pretty good movie with an inspiring message that popularized a certain mask?
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 11:40 AM on October 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


That speech was really good. Full of humor and sincerity.
posted by NationalKato at 11:41 AM on October 24, 2012


I thought it was pretty neat the Wachowskis were making another flick.

And then Hugo Weaving, James D'arcy, and Jim Sturgess in yellowface and why.
posted by KChasm at 11:52 AM on October 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


since they haven't produced any work worth watching in a decade or so.

Speed Racer was actually a minor work of genius, IMHO. I'm not a fan of the original cartoon (beyond a certain level of kitsch-appreciation, at least), but the kind of pure imaginative moviemaking going on there was absolutely insane.
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:58 AM on October 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


I just watched the video of her speech, and I think it's awesome, in the true sense of the word. I sat there in awe of her bravery and her confidence, her humor and her honesty, her irrepressible passion and her quiet nervousness -- in other words, her humanness. It sucks that HRC's policies don't fully support transgender people; hopefully, by Lana relinquishing her hold on privacy in an effort to be visible for those who feel invisible, that will begin to change.

I very much relate to the compasslessness of invisibility, not because of my sexual orientation, but because of my battles with depression and bipolar. It is a terrifying feeling, to feel so insubstantial as to be inconsequential. Her anecdote of the man with the square glasses coming down the stairs and seeing her -- really seeing her -- made me cry. I wish more people had the courage to be so boldly honest. I wish I did.

Also? She is one fantastic writer. I can't wait to watch "The Matrix" again.
posted by flyingsquirrel at 12:04 PM on October 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Whelk: Do you have a source for Switch being planned as transgendered? I posted about it on my facebook and a bunch of people are like "whoa that's so cool where did you read about this?" and I want to give them a better response than "this dude I trust on metafilter said so"...
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 12:04 PM on October 24, 2012


So it's great that HRC gets to throw a party for transgender awareness - yay us - but it would be greater if they actually supported transgender people where it counted.

Completely agree. They have thrown the transgender community under the bus when it comes to equality and it sucks.
posted by zarq at 12:09 PM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just popped in to say I'm hyped to see Cloud Atlas! I've also enjoyed the press around it, most of the articles I've read have been very respectful.

The Big Media reviews collected so far on Rotten Tomatoes aren't very flattering.

Although I do concur with Strange Interlude; Speed Racer is more rewarding than its dismal Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb ratings suggest.

I still regret skipping the opportunity to see it on IMAX.
posted by dgaicun at 12:39 PM on October 24, 2012


So what about the thing I read years ago suggesting that Larry was not actually transgendered but instead undergoing a forced-feminization by his dominatrix "Ilsa Strix"? Where is that in all this, was it just bullshit?
posted by anazgnos at 12:43 PM on October 24, 2012


Speed Racer was actually a minor work of genius, IMHO.

Indeed. I still think it'll be cited as an influential film years from now.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:48 PM on October 24, 2012


(and she's ridiculoid cute, btw)

this sounds a little patronizing
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 12:50 PM on October 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


this sounds a little patronizing

This sounds a little like you desperately needed something to say in this thread. Calling a person (of any fucking gender) cute is not inherently patronizing. At least, not in the way your comment is.
posted by mikoroshi at 1:02 PM on October 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


it is kind of painful to hear people, especially those with whom one shares certain things, being referred to in a kind of diminutive manner, especially when it involves "cute", which is an adjective applied typically to puppies and/or kittens, and "ridiculoid" which is painfully twee

i hope that my being slightly offended has not offended you
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 1:08 PM on October 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Her speech was absolutely wonderful.

As far as Cloud Atlas goes, it is shaping up to be one of the films that makes me happy Rotten Tomatoes exists. I love when a certain type of movie get's a 50% or there abouts on RT because:

1. It proves how useless a percentage based system of art criticism is

AND

2. It means that the movie very well may be one that divides people in a very sharp way that is perfect for post-film discussion.

Alternatively it might just mean that the film in question is attempting to be accessible, intelligent, and optimistic.

Critics hate a piece of art like that.
posted by sendai sleep master at 1:08 PM on October 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Whelk: Do you have a source for Switch being planned as transgendered? I posted about it on my facebook and a bunch of people are like "whoa that's so cool where did you read about this?" and I want to give them a better response than "this dude I trust on metafilter said so"...

Ugh not off the top of my head. It was something I read in a few essays and interviews that came up and stuck in the back lobe of my brain.

Go go internet detective squad. (vanishes into darkness)
posted by The Whelk at 1:27 PM on October 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'd read and heard a lot of the background "gossip" about Lana's transition when it was going on and they were refusing any and all public appearances. There was a lot of speculation, joking, and other really negative things going on surrounding it.

I'm glad she's stepped out of the shadows and into the spotlight. She's a wonderful human being, incredibly well-spoken, and I'm actually a bit stunned that she was willing to accept this award and make this speech.

We are all richer for her decision.
posted by hippybear at 1:47 PM on October 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


So what about the thing I read years ago suggesting that Larry was not actually transgendered but instead undergoing a forced-feminization by his dominatrix "Ilsa Strix"?

I'd read and heard a lot of the background "gossip" about Lana's transition when it was going on and they were refusing any and all public appearances.

I think the biggest coverage was the Rolling Stone article by Peter Wilkinson from 2006.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:57 PM on October 24, 2012


I don't have any more coherent response at the moment than: This speech was really fucking incredible.
posted by sparkletone at 2:11 PM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't remember what all I read, but I do remember Roger Ebert's encounter with the siblings at a screening of The Godfather, and the accompanying photo feeding into a lot of it.

And I remember coworkers who had encountered it making a lot of jokes. I remember that quite well, not in a good way.
posted by hippybear at 2:12 PM on October 24, 2012


Speed Racer was actually a minor work of genius, IMHO. I'm not a fan of the original cartoon (beyond a certain level of kitsch-appreciation, at least), but the kind of pure imaginative moviemaking going on there was absolutely insane.


Seriously in agreement. It's a totally underrated movie in every way and I'm surprised about the lack of attention it received. Thanks for the reminder. I'm gonna go watch it again. I'm not a big fan of "eye candy" type movies but this movie was seriously too delicious for me not to love.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 2:13 PM on October 24, 2012


It's a totally underrated movie in every way and I'm surprised about the lack of attention it received.

Few of the movies which seem to today be regarded as "classic new canon", especially of SF and Fantasy, were well received at the time.

Labyrinth, Dark Crystal, Brazil, Blade Runner, and others of that vein -- all giant box-office flops. I think that Speed Racer has had a lot of influence on succeeding filmmakers.

I suspect that Scott Pilgrim will one day be looked upon as equal genius.
posted by hippybear at 2:20 PM on October 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


I finally understand the speed racer love after loving Dredd 3d so much, if you know what I mean.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:22 PM on October 24, 2012


Part of me wants to call out this comment as playing into the insistence that a trans person's former name always be mentioned.
Obviously, one can go too far (introducng her as "Lana once Larry" all the time :-)), and what Lana wants her historical self to be called is her choice, but you have to give people a point of reference. I think this kind of fear of being tied forever to a previous identity actually works in reverse, to be honest. The previous identity is real, it might be pathological in some ways -- but it existed.

If one is so afraid to mention that Lana was once Larry, it doesn't give the impression that one has fully bought into her struggle, rather it gives the impression that the transition should not be mentioned. That one has not been able to integrate the idea that normative gender (appearance or otherwise) offers such narrow categories. The transformation from one to other is erased from history along with the ambiguity inherent in it, and all is right with the world -- she is and was always a woman.
posted by smidgen at 2:34 PM on October 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh, man, Speed Racer. A friend and I Netflix'ed it for Bad Movie Night and when it was about halfway through we turned to each other and said (not in these exact words), “holy crap, this is really good.” The racing scenes are like mainlining fun. And it was the first movie I bought on Blu-Ray, because DAMN.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:58 PM on October 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Big congrats to Lana! Shame on me for pouring over before and after photos of her, but not only is she really cute, she looks incredibly happy and comfortable compared to before. Wow, and awesome.

As far as her being recognized because she's famous...that's great. Change, acceptance and understanding have to start somewhere and why not at the top or in the public eye where it will get some notice.
posted by snsranch at 3:13 PM on October 24, 2012


where is the lana fan club? can anyone join it?
posted by gorestainedrunes at 3:15 PM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can I also say that I wish the Q&A link had been the main link for the video (which is included on that page, too), rather than the link used as "Video" in the FPP?

Because, damn... if that isn't a really terrible way for a website to frame that speech. WTF, Hollywood Reporter?
posted by hippybear at 3:24 PM on October 24, 2012


It's pretty cool that Lana has come out in this way. Her speech affected me strongly; pangs of identification with how she came to understand her gender, and came to terms with being trans.

Some of the ideas Lana and her brother have communicated are problematic. I'm uncertain about Cloud Atlas and its use of yellowface, for example. (Yes, Lana and Larry have said that they think we should see beyond pigeonholes when it comes to race, and I appreciate that viewpoint, but they still employed white actors at the expense of Korean actors for portraying Korean characters.)

Perhaps we're starting to enter the phase where being trans is part of a nuanced whole -- where trans people get to be trans and other things, rather than just being heroes or villains, freaks or pity cases. In her case, she gets to be trans and have some problematic ideas and be an amazing movie director and have some really wonderful ideas. I hope that's coming true.
posted by jiawen at 4:13 PM on October 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


And it was the first movie I bought on Blu-Ray, because DAMN.

This was my first movie I ever bought on Blu-Ray as well. I know people love to shit on it but the movie is literally the closest thing to a cartoon brought to life and is deliciously over-the-top in every way that it needs to be.
posted by Talez at 5:14 PM on October 24, 2012




10 Reasons Why Speed Racer Is an Unsung Masterpiece

Number 11: It's the first movie The GF and I saw a second time at the cinema since... The Matrix.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:59 PM on October 24, 2012


hoyland: "Part of me wants to call out this comment as playing into the insistence that a trans person's former name always be mentioned."

I think you're overthinking this. If Lana had become famous as Lana, but was Larry before becoming famous, and their former name was always being pointed out, I'd totally agree, but, from my experience, whenever anyone becomes famous under one name, and then changes names, every article about them will at some point mention their former name.
posted by Bugbread at 6:03 PM on October 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


While we're having our little Speed Racer lovefest, I'd just like to point out my very favorite thing in the entire movie: The moment (around the 80-minute mark) when the camera suddenly crash-zooms in on Pops Racer's hand -- revealing his high school wrestling championship ring -- right before he body-slams a ninja to the ground, all in one awesome CGI-enhanced take. A less ambitious film would've established Pops' wrassling bona fides with throwaway expository dialogue, BUT NOT THIS MOVIE. Genius.
posted by Strange Interlude at 6:09 PM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


And now that I've had a chance to watch it: wow. I always multitask video clips. I can't just sit and do one thing. But I could not stop watching this. In my list of top ten most witty, inspirational speeches, without question.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:12 PM on October 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Watched Matrix a couple days ago for the first time since I heard about this. It's pretty interesting viewing in light. Look how nearly identical Trinity and Neo are, for instance. And all the dualism takes on new meaning. Not to mention the "all the sentinels are punchy, lantern-jawed men and the Oracle is a woman baking cookies" stuff.

Also, knowing the details of Lana's near-suicide (described in her speech in the OP) casts the third-act subway platform fight from The Matrix (skip to 2:50) in an entirely new light for me. I'm definitely going to need to watch those movies again...
posted by Strange Interlude at 6:58 PM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


While we're having our little Speed Racer lovefest, I'd just like to point out my very favorite thing in the entire movie: The moment (around the 80-minute mark) when the camera suddenly crash-zooms in on Pops Racer's hand -- revealing his high school wrestling championship ring -- right before he body-slams a ninja to the ground, all in one awesome CGI-enhanced take. A less ambitious film would've established Pops' wrassling bona fides with throwaway expository dialogue, BUT NOT THIS MOVIE. Genius.


How many movies exceed the original source material? By like, 1000X?
posted by The ____ of Justice at 6:59 PM on October 24, 2012


If one is so afraid to mention that Lana was once Larry, it doesn't give the impression that one has fully bought into her struggle, rather it gives the impression that the transition should not be mentioned.

There's a difference between talking about someone's transition and being compelled to mention their previous name in doing so, though. I mean, this post couldn't exist without talking about her transition. I'm saying we should pause long enough to ask whether someone's previous name is relevant.

I tried to make it clear in my original comment that I was a bit undecided on whether it's relevant here--my gut reaction was that we were falling into this compulsion but, on reflection, thought also that there was a potential issue of not knowing who we were talking about if one didn't read all the links (which was a fair possibility, given that the speech was the main thrust of the post).
posted by hoyland at 7:01 PM on October 24, 2012


especially since they haven't produced any work worth watching in a decade or so.

As a big fan of 'Speed Racer', 'V for Vendetta', and 'Cloud Atlas', I strenuously object.
posted by eugenen at 9:16 PM on October 24, 2012


Forgive me but isn't all the talk about Speed racer and her other movies a bit of a derail from the actual focus of the article here?
posted by Podkayne of Pasadena at 9:21 PM on October 24, 2012


Yes, Ra forgive we talk about a director's body of work, rather than just her body.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 12:55 AM on October 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bit fuckin' rich to call her transition something that's 'just about her body'...
posted by Dysk at 2:43 AM on October 25, 2012


I've often wondered, does it mention anywhere why they were billed as the Wachowski Brothers early in the piece.

It always seemed a little odd to me when the Larry/Lana stuff was coming out that they wouldn't have billed themselves as the Wachowskis from the start if this was a thing that was always in the background. It sort of cemented Larry in the public mind as Larry.

It's always niggled at me.

(I loved Speed Racer too, and I am looking forward to Cloud Atlas.)
posted by Mezentian at 3:58 AM on October 25, 2012


So... should I apologize for being all fangirl for Lana and calling her cute?


And Roger Ebert loved Cloud Atals, which has me super excited to give it a try.
I totally agreed with him about Synecdoche NY, which I loved, and totally disagreed with him about Tree of Life, so I want to know where I'll fall in regards to this one.
posted by Theta States at 9:12 AM on October 25, 2012


(although yes, I am generally loathe for any discussion about any woman to focus on her physical appearance, I apologize for broaching that topic...)
posted by Theta States at 9:17 AM on October 25, 2012


It always seemed a little odd to me when the Larry/Lana stuff was coming out that they wouldn't have billed themselves as the Wachowskis from the start if this was a thing that was always in the background. It sort of cemented Larry in the public mind as Larry.

The Wachowskis got their start in the same 94-96 period that the Coen Brothers came up in. Fargo came out the same year as Bound and got a shit ton of attention/praise. I'm not surprised that another pair of siblings coming up at the time got a similar billing.

The timeline as presented in the NYer piece and elsewhere suggests that Lana wasn't ready to come out even to just her family and close friends until they were in the middle of making the 2nd and 3rd Matrix movies, by which point they'd already had a nearly decade-long career in Hollywood.

It's not clear that Larry-at-the-time was as self-aware, or anywhere near as comfortable expressing this stuff to anyone at all in the 94-96 period when they were first getting their start.

All just my guess as to why.
posted by sparkletone at 10:14 AM on October 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


There was also the Hughes brothers at the time.
posted by empath at 12:02 PM on October 25, 2012


Lana Wachowski, thank you with every cell of my being. Rarely have I seen someone express what I so often wanted to, so eloquently and so poignantly. It's official, I love you.
posted by changoperezoso at 12:15 PM on October 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm fine with people switching genders. Do what you gotta do. Huzzah! However, the whole "you have to always refer to them as the new gender from now on, even when we are referring to things they did back when they were the other gender" thing is just...awkward and bizarre. At this point, Lana can't go back in time and change the credits or the name she got known under for doing works that people remember and like. We do kinda need to clarify the switch for awhile at least, and that shouldn't be considered offensive. Ditto the singer in Against Me!, whatever her/his name was, I forget exactly, and anyone else in the same situation.

I can understand why trans folks want you to do it, but it is kind of strange to adjust to. It's like rewriting in graffiti on top of your memories to suddenly have to refer to things they did with the other gender, even when they were six years old. It feels incredibly weird. Especially in this case since there was publicity and well, everybody knows that Lana's previous work was under something else. Then again, I don't really think it's shameful to say that so-and-so was X gender and now is Y gender, yay. I sort of have the impression that trans folks feel differently about that, though, like maybe it kinda is? Or at least bothersome.

But what do I know, I don't plan on switching myself any time soon, so I'm probably a clueless git about it.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:34 PM on October 25, 2012


"I sort of have the impression that trans folks feel differently about that, though, like maybe it kinda is? Or at least bothersome."

Different trans folks feel differently about it. The constant need of cis people to reinforce that it's a "switch" and that we've "switched" and to remind everyone of who they thought we were before we "switched" is certainly bothersome to many of us, though -- it sends the message that what we feel in the core of our beings is not the 'true' us, but rather the mask that society forces us to adopt for so long is. It sends the message that cis society always has this 'gotcha' that they can use against us. It's a nasty habit that I wish cis society would break.
posted by jiawen at 10:20 PM on October 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


I can get that, but it feels like some sort of weird ... I don't know what...to suddenly have to rewrite it in your brain in the past, every single time, "Back when she--uh, HE was six, HE liked to eat paste at Catholic school" or whatever it was. I don't know why I have a worse problem with the retroactive gender changing than I do someone just saying, "I'm X gender with X name now and that is where things are from now on." It's relatively easy to just go with the state of things now compared to having to rewrite history. I know it's not a lie to say that they were always, always, always X gender, but it seems like it is some weird kind of lie from the evil cis standpoint, I guess. It's not so much a case of me wanting to rub it in that you'll always be the Y gender and put you down for it so much as it's...a strange adjustment because I didn't know and always think of you as an X the way that you did.

I'm not arguing for not doing it, necessarily, just saying that it's awkward and I still am trying to figure out how to refer to someone I've known for years who changed gender. In the present tense it's fine, but mentioning such-and-such a thing they did a few years ago and then having to remember to do the mental change in my brain before it shoots out of my mouth... I feel like I am making a lame hash of it these days and suck at ally-dom.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:56 PM on October 25, 2012


even when we are referring to things they did back when they were the other gender" thing is just...awkward and bizarre.

How awful it must be to be made to feel awkward about changing a pronoun once in a while. Imagine how awful it must be for someone to feel, for several decades that they are living out a lie, unfulfilled and without any hope to simply be themselves?

Referring to someone in their new gender role, even with regard to their past activities the past, is not so much bizarre as it is a social courtesy extended to someone so as to not refer back to any of that pain. It's simply the decent thing to do.
posted by Podkayne of Pasadena at 11:26 PM on October 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


I know it's not a lie to say that they were always, always, always X gender, but it seems like it is some weird kind of lie from the evil cis standpoint, I guess.

It sounds like maybe you haven't detached from the feeling that there fundamentally is a Y-to-X change here. I haven't entirely either. But does it help to figure that "always X" is not rewriting history, it's revealing history?

The scenario is that somebody tells you: in the past, I was X (although you and other people thought I was Y). Then they really were X. Nobody's denying the historical fact that you didn't know that before. OK, and this fact of past lack of knowledge I think is makes you feel weird to use X pronouns? Like by using Y pronouns you'd represent the true fact that you and others thought Y at the time? But two things there:

1) I don't know a pronoun system that does a "I thought Y at the time but actually X" gender. So by using Y pronouns you're saying they were Y, which is wrong. And getting the gender right is a lot more important than getting the side comment about what you thought.

2) Even if you do have that pronoun that carries what you thought too -- you wouldn't keep on referring to someone as "she (but I thought he at the time)"? Their gender identity is not about you. What you thought is naturally of some interest to you, but less to them, even if this were the first time they'd heard this story instead of the thousandth.

Even with the best of intentions, yeah, it can be hard to "rewrite it in your brain". (I have one acquaintance whose gender my brain sometimes reads wrong. I try saying pronouns out loud in private, mental flashcard visualization, but it's not a fix.) But, really, this is small potatoes, right?
posted by away for regrooving at 2:21 AM on October 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


jenfullmoon: I don't know why I have a worse problem with the retroactive gender changing than I do someone just saying, "I'm X gender with X name now and that is where things are from now on." It's relatively easy to just go with the state of things now compared to having to rewrite history.

So let's say there's someone you know who changed their name at some point. Nothing else, just their name. Let's take Lady Gaga as an example, why the hell not? She was no doubt named something else when she was born, yet very very few people would have an issue with the statement 'Lady Gaga was born in 1986' for example. Substantially MORE people would have an issue with 'Lana Wachowski directed the Matrix'. Logically, they are exactly equivalent, but people get squiffy about one and not the other. I posit that there is not reasonable explanation for this, aside from (possibly unexamined) bigotry.
posted by Dysk at 3:27 AM on October 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


Substantially MORE people would have an issue with 'Lana Wachowski directed the Matrix'. Logically, they are exactly equivalent, but people get squiffy about one and not the other.

People will object to this on the grounds that there's more room for confusion with 'Lana Wachowski directed the Matrix' because people don't know Lady Gaga's legal name (I'm assuming it's not Lady Gaga), but it's not a good objection. Sure, there's room for confusion, just like there's room for confusion when someone gets married and changes their surname, but somehow we've managed to sort the latter situation out for however long we've had surnames that changed due to marriage (which is not all that long or not at all in some places). Equally, there are probably millions of people in the world who can remember that Sergio Agüero and Kun Agüero are the same person without an excruciatingly detailed explanation.
posted by hoyland at 7:16 AM on October 26, 2012


It always seemed a little odd to me when the Larry/Lana stuff was coming out that they wouldn't have billed themselves as the Wachowskis from the start if this was a thing that was always in the background. It sort of cemented Larry in the public mind as Larry.

As someone who almost always watches The Matrix to the end when I come across it on TV, I always notice their (very prominent) credit as "The Wachowski Brothers" at the end. I don't recall ever seeing that sort of thing elsewhere -- someone mentioned the Coens, but I'm pretty sure they are always credited under their individual names.

I always figured they did this so as to not give one sibling first billing, but it seems extra ironic that Larry gained prominence under a gendered label.

(And by "ironic" of course I mean "like the awkward moment that you think of as funny later when things turn out happily, and you have hope that humanity is progressing and these things will seem quaint someday.")
posted by bjrubble at 9:57 AM on October 26, 2012


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