Co-Writer of ‘The Matrix’ Shares the Trans Allegory Behind the Film
Co-writer and co-director of The Matrix, Lilly Wachowski, opens up about the trans allegory behind one of Hollywood’s biggest blockbuster hits.
The Matrix is known for its genre-bending, action-packed, and uniquely memorable storyline. Recently, Lilly Wachowski (formerly from the Wachowski Brothers) looks back on The Matrix Trilogies and reflects on the transgender symbolism and its impact on the transgender community.
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“I’m glad that has gotten out that, you know, that was the original intention,” Wachowski says when asked about her thoughts about the fan’s discussion about the transgender symbolism of the film. In March of 2016, Wachowski revealed she is transgender, nearly four years after sister and co-writer/co-director of The Matrix Trilogies, Lana Wachowski, announced she was transgender. Lilly was most recently in Netflix’s documentary Disclosure, a film about the history and roots of the transgender community.
Trans brothers and sisters and my beautiful gnc siblings, check out Disclosure on Netflix for a look into our history. Made by, for and about trans people! It’s breathtaking! #nopedicuredinosaurfeet @DisclosureDoc @SamFederFilm @Lavernecox #DisclosureDoc #DisclosureNetflix pic.twitter.com/aLa45wX7Fl
— Lilly Wachowski (@lilly_wachowski) June 20, 2020
“The Matrix stuff was like all about desire for transformation, but it was all coming from a closeted point of view,” Wachowski explains when discussing the original version of the character Switch. The original version of Switch was the character being a male in the real world and a female in the matrix. The film was released in 1999, a time where “the corporate world wasn’t ready” for transgender storylines as a Hollywood blockbuster, as the co-writer states in her interview.
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Earlier this week we posted a video interview with Lilly Wachowski embracing the long-discussed theory that THE MATRIX is an allegory for the trans experience. “THE MATRIX was all about the desire for transformation, but it was all coming from a closeted point of view,” she said. “We as human begins engage in art in a non-linear way and can always talk about something in new light.” The theory that THE MATRIX is a trans metaphor that parallels many elements of a gender transition has been talked about online for years. Here’s a (shortened) breakdown of symbolism throughout the film from notable trans writers, critics, and scholars. While the Wachowski sisters coming out publicly as trans women after THE MATRIX debuted may have prompted fans to revisit their filmography through a trans lens, they were always trans women and THE MATRIX is and always will be a film by two female filmmakers of trans experience. Lilly and Lana Wachowski gave us one of the most influential, enduring, and celebrated films of all time. And through THE MATRIX, they gave trans people the possibility of a cinematic world without borders or boundaries. A world where anything is possible. Read the full thread over on our Twitter, and for a deeper dive down the rabbit hole, check out Cáel M. Keegan’s book on the Wachowskis “Sensing Transgender,” and writings by Emily VanDerWerff, Andrea Long Chu, Willow Maclay, and Eleanor Lockhart. THE MATRIX is on @netflixbrasil, @netflixlat, @netflixfr & more.
In Netflix’s Disclosure, Wachowski opens up about the trans narrative interpretation of the film. “Being out and trans,” Wachowski says, “forces people to look back on my work and apply a trans narrative to it because I wasn’t making The Matrix films as specifically as trans narratives.”
— PFLAG National (@PFLAG) June 21, 2020
The Matrix and Disclosure are available to stream on Netflix.