The Wachowskis are siblings, partners in Hollywood, and, most important, each other’s support system.
Lilly Wachowski, 48, came out as transgender on Tuesday, saying that she feels lucky “having the support of my family.” Lilly’s sister Lana, directing partner for films like The Matrix trilogy and 2015’s Jupiter Ascending, is also a transgender woman.
While the pair’s journey to and through Hollywood success has been an interesting one, they were always by each other’s sides.
As children, Lana and Lilly grew up with their two sisters in Chicago. Early on, the pair developed an affinity for film, and would spend hours with their parents at the cinema.
It was during her youth, while in third grade, that Lana first became conscious of her gender, she told The New Yorker in 2012.
“I have a formative memory of walking through the girls’ line and hesitating, knowing that my clothes didn’t match,” Lana said of Catholic school. “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.”
After college, Lana and Lilly started a construction business while still indulging their love of writing for film, they told The New Yorker. Following their success, first with Assassins, and then Bound, the construction was left behind – and Lana was feeling less and less like “Larry.”
It was on the set of the second and third parts of The Matrix trilogy that the then-recently separated Lana told her family she was transgender.
“For years, I couldn’t even say the words ‘transgendered’ or ‘transsexual,’ “Lana told The New Yorker. “When I began to admit it to myself, I knew I would eventually have to tell my parents and my brother and my sisters. This fact would inject such terror into me that I would not sleep for days. I developed a plan that I worked out with my therapist. It was going to take three years. Maybe five. A couple of weeks into the plan, my mom called.”
But her family, including mom Lynne and sister Lilly, who was then going by the name Andy, were on board. (“Having good parents is just like the lottery,” she said in 2012.)
“My biggest fears were all about losing my family. Once they accepted me, everything else has been a piece of cake,” she said.
The famously private pair, who also co-directed Cloud Atlas and created the Netflix series Sense8, often avoid premieres and press (Lana insisted during a 2012 speech that it has nothing to do with her gender), with Lilly revealing this week that she finds “talking about my art frustratingly tedious and talking about myself a wholly mortifying experience.”
Regardless, she said, “I knew at some point I would have to come out publicly. You know, when you’re living as an out transgender person it’s … kind of difficult to hide.”
She shared in a statement to the Windy City Media Group on Wednesday that she decided to speak out.
“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,” she said. “We need to elevate the dialogue beyond the simplicity of binary. Binary is a false idol.”
In addition to Lana’s guidance, Lilly said that she is grateful to have “the means to afford doctors and therapists” to help her “survive this process.”