Over the weekend, “Cloud Atlas” and “The Matrix” co-director Lana Wachowski received the Human Rights Campaign’s Visibility Award for her positive public appearances as a transgender woman over the recent months.
At her acceptance speech for the award, Wachowski gave a riveting description of growing up transgender, describing the challenges she faced as she attempted to understand her own gender identity from early childhood.
At one point in her speech, Wachowski describes possibly the lowest point in her life, where confusion over her identity ultimately led her to attempt suicide. She describes going to the train tracks with every intent of throwing herself in front of an oncoming locomotive, stopped only because a nearby old man saw her and watched over her until she was safe.
“He stares at me the way animals stare at each other,” Wachowski said. “I don’t know why he wouldn’t look away. All I know is that because he didn’t, I am still here.”
After that traumatic moment, however, Wachowski explained that she began a journey of self-discovery that ultimately led her to a place of acceptance.
“Years later I find the courage to admit that I am transgender and this doesn’t mean that I am unlovable. I met a woman, the first person that has made me understand that they love me not in spite of my difference but because of it. She is the first person to see me as a whole being. And every morning I get to wake up beside her I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am for those two blue eyes in my life.”
Wachowski closed her speech with a stirring reminder that people of all backgrounds should be openly accepted, saying that she hopes her work in film can inspire future generations to be accepting and honest with themselves.
“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,” Wachowski said. “It felt like my dreams were foreclosed simply because my gender was less typical than others.”
“If I can be that person for someone else, then the sacrifice of my private civic life may have value. I know I am also here because of the strength and courage and love that I am blessed to receive from my wife, my family and my friends. And in this way I hope to offer their love in the form of my materiality to a project like this one started by the HRC, so that this world that we imagine in this room might be used to gain access to other rooms, to other worlds previously unimaginable.”
You can read the full text of Wachowski’s speech at The Hollywood Reporter and watch a video below.