[UPDATED] Second Wachowski Sibling Comes Out as Transgender, Daily Mail Is Still Trash
— Cosmopolitan (@Cosmopolitan) March 9, 2016
You read that right: the Wachowski siblings are now the Wachowski sisters. Lana Wachowski’s sibling is now Lilly Wachowski, as told in a letter she wrote to the Windy City Times. In it, she details her coming out, as well as shares a pretty horrifying story of being essentially harassed by the Daily Mail (a UK tabloid), who were threatening to out her if she didn’t come to them with comments or a statement first.
In her letter, she wrote:
“SEX CHANGE SHOCKER—WACHOWSKI BROTHERS NOW SISTERS!!!”
There’s the headline I’ve been waiting for this past year. Up until now with dread and/or eye rolling exasperation. The “news” has almost come out a couple of times. Each was preceded by an ominous email from my agent—reporters have been asking for statements regarding the “Andy Wachowski gender transition” story they were about to publish.
Eventually these requests for statements turned into a real life encounter with a Daily Mail writer. She continued:
Then last night while getting ready to go out for dinner my doorbell rang. Standing on my front porch was a man I did not recognize.
“This might be a little awkward,” he said in an English accent.
I remember sighing.
Sometimes it’s really tough work to be an optimist.
He proceeded to explain he was a journalist from the Daily Mail, which was the largest news service in the UK and was most definitely not a tabloid. And that I really had to sit down with him tomorrow or the next day or next week so that I could have my picture taken and tell my story which was so inspirational! And that I really didn’t want to have someone from the National Enquirer following me around, did I? BTW—The Daily Mail is so definitely not a tabloid.
So let’s get this out of the way now: outing somebody is never okay. Not only does it disempower them, taking away their decision to share such an important thing with the people they want to share it with, but it also endangers the person. You never know how somebody is going to react when you come out. Sometimes it brings in judgement and violence and all kinds of terrible abuse. Imagine bringing that down on somebody else, all because you told them something that wasn’t yours to tell them anyway.
Wachowski brought up an earlier example of a tabloid–the Daily Mail, no less–who outed an elementary school teacher in the UK. Not three months after the article came out, she committed suicide. Now, they were coming after Lilly Wachowski, and she wasn’t having any of it. She articulately breaks down what it’s been like for her coming to terms with transitioning and what being trans and queer mean in today’s world.
But these words, “transgender” and “transitioned” are hard for me because they both have lost their complexity in their assimilation into the mainstream. There is a lack of nuance of time and space. To be transgender is something largely understood as existing within the dogmatic terminus of male or female. And to “transition” imparts a sense of immediacy, a before and after from one terminus to another. But the reality, 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. We need to elevate the dialogue beyond the simplicity of binary. Binary is a false idol.
Her entire letter is incredible, and absolutely deserves to be read. You can find it in its entirety over on the Windy City Times website.
Also, I’m going to say this one more time for the people in the back: outing somebody is never ever okay. Outing somebody is violence.
Now, on to the next topic: can we all just agree now that The Matrix was a trans/transitioning allegory? Yes? Okay, great. Thank you.
[UPDATE]: DailyMail.com has reached out with a statement from a Daily Mail spokesperson.
DailyMail.com categorically denies that it in anyway tried to coerce Lilly Wachowski into revealing her gender transition.
As Ms Wachowski herself says, we were not the first media organization to approach her and we made absolutely clear at several points in the conversation that we were only interested in reporting the story if and when she was happy for us to do so and with her cooperation.
Our reporter was extremely sympathetic and courteous at all times, as is obvious from our transcript of the exchange.
Indeed the conversation with our journalist ended with Ms Wachowski agreeing to call him the following day.
The previous case to which she refers was a UK primary (elementary) school teacher, Lucy Meadows, who planned to return to school after the winter holidays in 2013 with a new sexual identity.
The Daily Mail did NOT ‘out’ her or hound her.
The story emerged after the school wrote announcing the change to parents, some of whom contacted the local media because they were concerned their children might be too young to understand what had happened.
The Daily Mail newspaper, which is a separate editorial operation to DailyMail.com, subsequently carried the personal view of a columnist who, while emphatically defending Ms Meadows’ right to transition echoed some parents concerns about whether it was right for children to confront complex gender issues at such a vulnerable young age.
In the event, it emerged at her inquest that Ms Meadows made no mention either of the press in general or of the Daily Mail in particular in an extensive suicide note.
As The Guardian reported at the time: ‘In a note she left, she made no mention of press intrusion, citing instead her debts, a number of bereavements including the death of her parents, and her stressful job as a primary school teacher.
‘She insisted she was not depressed or mentally ill and thanked her friends, family and colleagues for their support, as well as messages she had received from well-wishers around the world.’
We wish Lilly Wachowski well with her journey though we are surprised as to how she has reacted, given the courtesy and sensitivity with which the reporter approached her.
The statement doesn’t deny the fact that they sent a reporter to question Lilly Wachowski about her trans status. It says that “they were not the first” … just because someone else did it, does that make it okay for you to do it? I don’t understand that line of reasoning.
Moreover, asking someone–even someone famous, mind you–to share and talk about such a personal matter after someone randomly shows up on your doorstep is really out of line. Regardless of how polite you might be, the fact that you’re asking someone about their trans status in front of their home with the intent of publishing a story about said status is incredibly rude.
Let me put it this way: you don’t ask somebody on the street if they’re trans. That amounts to outing somebody. The same thing goes for news outlets and reporters. You can’t say you’re writing a story about someone’s transition when they haven’t officially come out yet. That is preparing to out somebody, what about that don’t you get? In both cases, you’re basically asking somebody what the status of their genitals is–and doesn’t that just seem really freaking awkward?
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