Director Lana Wachowski Delivers Gripping, Emotional HRC Speech About Growing Up Trans, Coming Out: VIDEO


At the Human Rights Campaign's annual San Francisco gala dinner Oct. 20, trans director Lana Wachowski (Cloud Atlas, The Matrix) delivered a lengthy, powerful amazing speech upon being awarded HRC's Visibility Award in which she talks about her painful childhood, her suicide plans, and coping with fame, family, and making her transition.

Watch highlights as well as the entire speech, AFTER THE JUMP...

Wachowski also talks about receiving the award and delivering the speech in a Q&A with the Hollywood Reporter:

THR: In the speech, you refer to “this moment,” as in, the moment your whole life had been leading up to. Did it live up to everything you had built it up to be?

Wachowski: I knew that I would do this eventually, but it was interesting that I didn’t want to inhabit the memory too closely. A lot of them are very painful memories. I had practiced the speech once before I went on with my partner, and I cried several times while I was doing it, and she said, “Come on! You don’t want to be blubbering in front of a thousand people in tuxedos.” So when I did it, I did try to have a little bit of distance from the actual emotion of the memory. And then when I wasn’t talking so much about myself, and I was thinking about someone who was like me when I was young, feeling that I was fulfilling the example that I was looking for when I was young. Then it was weird how potently the emotion hit me when I was thinking about someone else. It caught me off guard, and I started to get very emotional. And I had to stop.

Highlights from the speech:

Here's the full speech, and here's a transcript:

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  1. Absolutely in humanity restored!!

    Posted by: Jaxtall | Oct 24, 2012 10:09:29 PM

  2. Polyboy: Stonewall was ALL about the cops busting a drag bar, not trannys. OKAY!!
    I was there, where you? Remember when it happened I was in my 20's, what will you be doing when you reach yours?
    As far as moderating the comments ENDO, I thought we could have an exchange of ideas without being called names and attacked.
    As far as the hair dig is concerned, have young gay people lost their sense of humor?
    Get over it.
    As far as the speech goes, I thought it was brilliant but it still doesn't change my opinion about transfolk not being a part of the gay community.
    I hope the moderator does sensor this it will only prove my point.

    Posted by: I wont grow up | Oct 24, 2012 11:11:04 PM

  3. @ I WONT GROW UP. Actually, ENDO's comments about moderating were directed at JASON, or maybe your slip just pointed out that you and Jason are the same person....

    You seem to have a real disdain for the "young" people on this board. How do you know the people you are talking to are all young?

    You seem to have a chip on your shoulder (just like Jason/Rick). I suggest maybe it is time you actually did grow up.

    P.S. as far as Jason is concerned (if you aren't him, which I doubt) the reason people "attack" him is because his sole purpose is to say inflammatory things and make claims that are so ridiculous just to push people's buttons. That's why people have no tolerance for his crap. But you already knew that right Jason..err I mean I WONT GROW UP??

    Posted by: WOW | Oct 24, 2012 11:45:43 PM

  4. I bet the only reason 'Jason' is so offended by Lana W. is that she, in addition to living as a woman, is living WITH a woman. That is just unacceptable for manly men like 'Jason'.

    And as for the issues with putting the T in LGBT (or L), isn't it because people who identify as either L, G, B, T, etc. are experiencing a lot of the same problems in society? Society lumps all non-hetero into one group, which is why you all need to stand together and fight for your rights. Infighting never helps anyone!

    To finish: Any comment on Lana W.'s hair makes you look like a juvenile little sh!t who's jealous of her willingness to be VISIBLE! She's not hiding from anyone, and you just hate that, don't you...

    Posted by: Tanoka | Oct 25, 2012 12:05:31 AM

  5. I don't know how anyone in our community could criticize this speech or claim that transgender issues are not the same as gays and lesbians. Not one of us share EXACTLY the same story but when Lana spoke she was speaking my truth. I empathize not with the specifics of gender identity but with the truth of what it means to be different, needing to be loved for who we are and not what we are, for having the strength to stand up and be counted as a human being worthy of respect and compassion, and for realizing if we, who have it easier, aren't visible make it harder for those that don't.

    Posted by: AladinSane | Oct 25, 2012 1:22:23 AM

  6. I am of two minds on this... I don't know any trans people personally, but I do think trans issues are actually separate from gay concerns-I agree with you ALADINSANE that the need for compassion and love is really whats at stake, but that is for any human being on this planet, white, brown, tall, fat, short, disabled, gay, poor, etc.

    I think the community would be torn apart if groups started advocating for only gay/lesbian issues, and so, at this point, it wouldn't be wise.

    I do respect Lana's work and her opening up to the world- and she really does look better now than as Larry. Whether it's just happiness or what, I don't know.

    Posted by: scott | Oct 25, 2012 1:43:08 AM

  7. It was a good speech. And believe me, I don't sit through 30 minute long videos unless it holds my attention. Lana was charming and funny, touching and, yes, inspirational.

    I'll admit it, I don't really "get" the transgender thing. It's outside my personal experience. But I also figured out a long time ago that my "getting" something is irrelevent to whether or it not it exists, is real.

    And at some level a lot of the prejudice against gay men (and women) is that we have "betrayed our gender" by loving men. They refuse to accept first-person accounts of our own experiences, that "gayness" just IS, not chosen, not a moral or ethical failure. So if we refuse to believe the personal experiences of transgender people just because it wasn't OUR experience, aren't we doing the same thing?

    Posted by: Caliban | Oct 25, 2012 2:04:59 AM

  8. Scott and Caliban, I think the confluence of transgender and gay folk's experience lies in societal and familial expectations of our lives. There is an assumption that we are THIS when we are THAT. Both are inherent traits that force us either to confront society and it's expectations, to define ourselves as we are, or to be complicit in the fantasy that we don't exist, the very least of which, in order not to rock the boat, that we are marginalized creatures. It took me a long time to grok that society's problem is at root the fear of sexuality/genitalia, if we all "just complied" with what was expected of a penis and a vagina then there'd be no problem at all...

    Posted by: AladinSane | Oct 25, 2012 2:38:11 AM

  9. GLBT for Jason: Get Lost Big Troll.

    Posted by: Jase | Oct 25, 2012 4:43:31 AM

  10. It was appropriate for Lana to be asked to give this speech. Because she is a lesbian, not because she is "trans."

    LGBs are all, to one degree or another, homosexual. Ts are not. Most Ts are straight. And LGBs have spent the better part of the 20th century explaining to the general culture that gay people are not gender conflicted. "LGBT" is a dishonest term that promotes stereotypes of gay people and which also implies that transgender has something to do with sexual attraction rather than gender identity. LGBT is a lie and it should be put to rest. Shame on Towleroad for continuing to promote LGBT.

    Posted by: Dave | Oct 25, 2012 7:15:31 AM

  11. Lana is not a lesbian and neither is Lana a transgender. As far as I know, Lana is a heterosexual male with an opposite sex partner. Just because Lana changed to a female name and goes around wearing dresses, it does NOT make Lana a woman. Therefore, she can't be a lesbian.

    The other problem with combining T with G in GLBT is that it promotes a false equivalence. Put it this way: transexuals have never been oppressed by laws that jailed or killed them. We men, on the other hand, were regularly persecuted by laws that specified our same-sex activity as being punishable. Under NO circumstances do I accept the false equivalence being promoted by the crowd that equates persecution of transexuals with men who engage in same-sex activity.

    If that grates with the PC crowd, so be it. I'm not here to make your day - never have been, never will.

    Posted by: jason | Oct 25, 2012 8:19:00 AM

  12. Just track down Jason/Rick and do an exposé of him.

    Posted by: kode | Oct 25, 2012 8:33:28 AM

  13. Regardless of Jason, I hope we do NOT go to moderated comments. One of the good things about Towleroad is the freedom of the comments. I know there's at least one other user under the name of Randy, for example, and that's fine with me. Compare the freedom on this site with anti-gay sites, who almost always moderate (or completely ban) comments. That's not us.

    Posted by: Randy | Oct 25, 2012 9:21:23 AM

  14. First of all, thank you, IWONTGROWUP, for setting the historical record straight and by so doing, demonstrating how tragically off-track the gay movement has gone in embracing people and an ideology that has prevented us from making progress.

    The year I have spent on this website has crystallized my understanding to the point that I now clearly see why there is such discord in the "gay community".

    Amd it has to do with the fact that two totally disparate groups of people have been lumped together--two groups that fundamentally differ in their worldview, their perception, and their goals.

    "Gay" is just a cultural construct; LGBT is even more of a cultural construct.

    "Gay" originally simply meant men who are primarily sexually attracted to men or women who were sexually attracted to women. What it did not account for was that there are different pathways to same-sex attraction and that there are different degrees of same-sex attraction.

    Here is the thing. The REAL divide, as I see it, is between one group, namely men who identify with women, idolize women, and see all things feminine as "good" and who revile masculinity and all things masculine and who, therefore, by extension, hate men because masculinity is what defines men in their natural state. This group encompasses all "trans" males and all effeminate "gay" men. Their hostility towards men and masculinity is shared by lesbians, which is why an "alliance" with lesbians makes sense for them. And, of course, this group espouses feminism, with its fundamentally anti-male ideology. Most gay activists fall into this group.

    This group's ideology is defined by "gender-non-conformity", which, in reality is a guise for trying to undermine masculine values and conduct a war on masculinity itself.....which they see as the principal threat to their acceptance and "empowerment". The difference, for me, between effeminate "gay" men and "trans" men is just a matter of degree, not of kind. What they have in common is far more significant than what they don't, which is why they fit so well together and are happy to align themselves with each other.

    The second group consists of men who have the same kind of male identity that other men have and who differ from "straight" men only in that they are attracted sexually to other men, in addition to being "spiritually" attached to other men. This group feels perfectly comfortable with masculinity and therefore sees no need to try and challenge "gender norms." What this group wants is simply to be accepted and respected by other men AS MEN, without their sexuality being made an issue.

    This group's priority is therefore, strictly to eradicate male homophobia--not to eradicate masculinity. Its goal is to liberate men emotionally, socially, and sexually from their totally artificial dependence on women.....which can be accomplished by changing the male by making that change, homosexuality will become acceptable and considered a part of masculine experience rather than something that is contradictory to it.

    This group sees feminism as a reflection of female social privilege that is driven by the dependence of men on women that a homophobic male culture has resulted in. That is why those of us who are part of this group are often accused of "misogyny"--that, along with our embrace of masculine values.

    This second group is potentially much, much larger than the first group because it encompasses many, many men who would prefer sex and relationships with men to relationships with women.....or who, at the very least, would prefer a mixture of the two......and while many of them will have sex with other men on a one-off basis now, they do not identify as "gay" in part because of the association of "gay" with all the things I described with regard to the first group in the paragraph above.

    So the two groups are more or less incompatible and should not be part of the same movement. And that is our challenge going forward. The natural allies of the second group are "straight" men; the natural allies of the first are feminists. The reference group of the second group is men; the reference group of the second group is women.

    What will allow the second group to leave the first behind and sever all ties eventually is the quiet revolution that is occurring among "straight" men that slowly but surely is re-defining the male culture to allow men more intimacy of all kinds with each other and eradicating the dependence of men on women.

    And that cannot happen soon enough.

    Posted by: Rick | Oct 25, 2012 11:45:31 AM

  15. Sorry, the last sentence in the next to last paragraph should have read "The reference group of the second group is men; the reference group of the FIRST group is women"

    Posted by: Rick | Oct 25, 2012 11:48:47 AM

  16. Lana, you're amazing. CANNOT WAIT for Cloud Atlas. This weekend!

    And here's a very fun fact about all of you "i don't know why we gays are being lumped in with trans people" dunces: none of you have the balls to show your names, or faces, or provide a link to who you are. None of you. This is WHY you, of course, don't understand why we're "lumped" together - you've yet to understand the concept of solidarity, and being strong by standing together.

    you're still making your claims from a place of solitary anonymity.

    any gay person who does not stand in solidarity with our trans brothers and sisters deserves every ounce of discrimination they're certain to face in life. we're all in it together.

    Lana has shown a remarkable amount of strength and resilience, and i for one am proud to call her Sister.

    Plus, she's responsible for BOUND and BOUND freakin' rocks.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Oct 25, 2012 12:58:28 PM

  17. @RICK says:

    "The year I have spent on this website has crystallized my understanding to the point that I now clearly see why there is such discord in the "gay community"."

    Most of the discord is caused by you with your ridiculous rantings against women, effeminate gay men, feminism and minorities. This is how you see the world and it is sad. You need help dude.

    Posted by: BETTY | Oct 25, 2012 1:00:46 PM

  18. A great speech from an obviously intelligent and funny person. Anyone who made "The Matrix" has got to have a lot of brain power. All this extremely tedious discussion about whether or not trans people fit in with LGB people is beside the point. To the straight world we're all sexual outlaws, outcasts, freaks. What does it matter? it's all about finding one's place in the world. Obviously it took Lana some time to do so. The woman is kind of a genius, so leave her alone. However, her anonymity is now totally shot with that hairstyle.

    Posted by: Jim | Oct 25, 2012 1:23:06 PM

  19. DAVE,

    Some folks that my generation called drag queens go in drag 24/7. They fall under the umbrella term "Transgender". They have no intention of ever having sex reassignment surgery, so they are NOT transsexual. Many don't want to get rid of their penises because they need them to men.

    Dave, if a transwoman sticks her up your azz then she is also GAY. She is having homosexual sex the same way two "regular" Gay men do it. She is not a Lesbian because she doesn't have sex with women--she is GAY.

    Have you ever heard of Pepper LaBeija or Octavia St. Laurent or Holly Woodlawn or Quentin Crisp or Dorian Corey? These were all Transfolk who were also Gay.

    And more recently, what about Chris Crocker. He went through a period where he was obviously Transgender, but now he's Gay.

    The separation from Transfolk that Gay men like you want can only be for yourselves. You cannot make the rest of us adhere to your narrow definition of what it means to be Gay.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Oct 25, 2012 1:23:18 PM

  20. Derrick, the "i can't stand transpeople" gays are already separated from the rest of us gays - we're Out and they're Not.

    they're already separate. they love division. anything that keeps them in hiding.

    gay men and women with integrity and spines stand in solidarity with our trans brothers and sisters.

    those who do not, as always, live cowardly lives and can only spew their misery from a place of anonymity.

    Lana, we love you, and you look S E N S A T I O N A L, gurrrl!

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Oct 25, 2012 3:40:30 PM

  21. @Endo: "moderating the comments" = censorship. We dont need Andy to do that. We can do it on our own. Half the time when I see posts by Rick, Jason, Little Kiwi and a few others, I just scroll on by, beause I realize they are usually just rants and I have little to learn from them. Just as I imagine that when some others see a post by Andrew, they scroll on by. We don't need big brother Andy to impose his censorship.

    Posted by: andrew | Oct 25, 2012 4:12:18 PM

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