This week, the New Yorker gets around to gushing over the Wachowski siblings’ cinema adaptation of Cloud Atlas. Would you believe it features Hugo “Agent Smith/Elrond” Weaving as a genderbending Nasty Nurse? Not that you’ll read that here. What you will read here is some account of Lana (nee Larry) Wachowski’s transgenderism.
Perhaps not coincidentally, Lana’s gender consciousness started to emerge at around the same time. In third grade, Larry transferred to a Catholic school, where boys and girls wore different uniforms and stood in separate lines before class. “I have a formative memory of walking through the girls’ line and hesitating, knowing that my clothes didn’t match,” Lana told me. “But as I continued on I felt I did not belong in the other line, so I just stopped in between them. I stood for a long moment with everyone staring at me, including the nun. She told me to get in line. I was stuck—I couldn’t move. I think some unconscious part of me figured I was exactly where I belonged: betwixt.” Larry was often bullied for his betwixtness. “As a result, I hid and found tremendous solace in books, vastly preferring imagined worlds to this world,” Lana said.
The betwixtness apparently came to a head during the filming of the Matrix sequels.
Sensing that something was wrong, Lynne Wachowski flew to Australia the following day. The morning after her arrival, Larry told her, “I’m transgender. I’m a girl.” Lynne didn’t know what he meant. “I was there when you were born,” she said. “There’s a part of me that is a girl,” Larry insisted. “I’m still working at that.” Lynne had been distraught on the plane, worried that she might lose her son. “Instead, I’ve just found out there is more of you,” she said. Ron, who soon flew in, too, offered his unconditional support, as did Larry’s sisters and Andy, who had suspected for a while.
Eventually, the press retreated. Lana completed her divorce and met and fell in love with the woman who became her second wife, in 2009. “I chose to change my exteriority to bring it closer into alignment with my interiority,” she told me. “My biggest fears were all about losing my family. Once they accepted me, everything else has been a piece of cake. I know that many people are dying to know if I have a surgically constructed vagina or not, but I prefer to keep this information between my wife and me.”
Okay then! But there are a couple of things that nag at me about this very friendly profile. They don’t mention the whole S&M thing, and they don’t mention the hot mess that was Speed Racer. If you’re going to do a piece that explores the subject’s sexuality and also discusses past work, you can’t just leave whole sections out. It’s not like there are dozens of Wachowski movies, and it’s not like S&M isn’t a key part of Lana’s romantic history.
(I link to the HuffPo piece because the original Rolling Stone article is subscriber-only. Love the author’s indignance: “You could also read this article and wonder at the point of it. Why are we interested in Larry Wachowski’s sexual proclivities anyway?” Well, maybe because he/she is throwing them up on the screen, and making questions of perceived vs. actual reality central to his/her films?)