Understanding Lana Wachowski

Okay, so, today I was going to write a NaNoWriMo post.  The event, “National Novel Writing Month,” is only 5 days away and I find myself filled with anxiety.  Anxious excitement, in my world, is usually a good thing.  I feel that I have a lot on my plate.  I have another script to write, which takes priority AND I’m going to find a way to take on the 1,600 nano word count too.  You might be thinking, “Why would someone take all of that on?”  For me, a quote that I read from Suzanne Collins, the woman who wrote the Hunger Games keeps resonating.  She said, and I’m paraphrasing, “I would write for my day job at Nickelodeon and then when I came home at night, I would write the Hunger Games.  The Hunger Games became a fun break from my work for me.”


Imagine creating this…as a diversion from “real” work. Phew…


So, can I create work that becomes a fun break from work?  That’s what I’m hoping for with this project.  That and a better overall understanding of story structure.


However, NaNo is NOT what I’m going to talk about today.  Yesterday, I spent the afternoon sketching out my theme and story points for NaNo.  I intend to do more of that today.  While I figure out all of this story architecture, for myself, I’m not sure I’m the best advice giver for all of you.  It needs to be clear for me, first, and then I can dispense it.  So, for now, I’m just going to be doing my work up as more of a solo project.  If it helps you, this is the site I’ve been using as a guide:  click here.


But, on to today’s topic.


Understanding Lana Wachowski


On a whim, or as a procrastination from my writing, I watched an HRC video on Lana Wachowski.  If you don’t know, Lana used to be Larry Wachowski.  Both Lana and her brother, Andy, are the creators and the directors of the Matrix trilogy.  They are also the writers and creators of one of my favorite lesbo movies, Bound.


If you haven’t seen this…what are you waiting for?


I’m always hesitant to talk about transgender issues because much like I said, above, in regards to NaNoWriMo, I like to be clear about things before I pontificate.  That being said, I’ve been muddied about transgender issues for a long time.  I think part of that is because it’s not my issue.  Lumping transgender stuff into the gay and lesbian umbrella is not always the exact right fit.  However, we are all oppressed and discriminated against in one way or another and REALLY where in the hell else are you going to put the transgender folks?  In with African Americans or any other discriminated against race?  I don’t think so.  Apples and oranges, you might say.  I suppose along those lines gays, lesbians, and transgendered people are more like Granny Smiths and Galas – both apples, but with entirely different looks and tastes.  I think you get the metaphor.


Of course, that’s not to say that you have to BE a thing in order to FEEL empathetic towards another human being.  You don’t.  That’s why a man can understand how a woman feels and vice a versa.


To be human is to be human, regardless of the wrapping, and the psychology.  If you cut it, we all bleed just the same.  BUT, there are things that a straight person may never fully grasp about being gay.  Likewise, there are things that a gay person may never fully grasp about being trans.  For example, I can not -for the life of me- understand why a trans-woman (a born male, who becomes female) would STILL date a woman.  (Lana, for example, does.)  Intellectually, I get it.  I’ve been told again and again that gender and sexual orientation are different.  So, a person can be straight, but still feel they were born into the wrong body.  This is where it gets confusing because a straight male who marries a woman would not be embraced and exalted by the LGBT community in the same way that a trans-woman or trans-man is.


There is also a part of me that wonders, does this all bother me because I was born female?  Is there something intrinsically insulting-feeling about a person born male becoming female?  I get that this is not a popular thing to say.  I also feel “to each his own.”  So, I want to be clear, nowhere in what I’m saying should you feel that I think transgender issues are wrong.  I don’t.  I simply think it warrants deeper discussion – at every level.


Regardless, Lana Wachowski is fascinating.  Fascinating and funny.  Her whole speech is just charming and heart warming.  I dare you to watch it and NOT make it to the end.


In the speech, she brings up Gwen Araujo – a trans-woman who was murdered by 2-3 heterosexual men who had sexual relations with her.  Let’s be clear – murder is NEVER okay in my book.  Would I say that Gwen’s murder is as disgusting to me as Matthew Shepard’s?  Yes.  But, the thing that bothers me is that Gwen lied about her gender to her murderers.  She claimed to be fully female, while retaining male sex organs.  This does not, in any way, justify their horrendous crime.  That said, I do think you need to be truthful about your birth gender to the people you’re even thinking about hooking up with.  Let me fully clarify that.  If you’ve fully transitioned, then, in my book, you ARE fully female, so no clarification is needed.  However, if you are in a more in-between stage those you are becoming intimate with have a right to know.  That way each party can make an informed decision PRIOR to physically connecting.  I understand that this is easier said than done in practice.  Though, I’d say, coming out as gay to everyone isn’t easy either.


Gwen wasn’t murdered in the middle of nowhere, but in a town very close to Los Angeles.


In Gwen’s case, these weren’t chance meetings at a bar, where Gwen felt her life was in danger, as far as I can tell.  If that’s the case, then I say lie away.  But, instead, these were repeated unions where Gwen would claim she was “having her lady time,” so as to lure the men away from her soon-to-be-lady parts.


To murder someone is so repulsive to me that I think the problems regarding that particular grouping of Gwen and the men goes far beyond her gender.  It sounds like they weren’t a safe group of guys for a woman or a trans-woman to be around.  Period.  Their crime was brutal and a hate crime, in my point of view, though the men were NOT convicted of a hate crime.  With all of that said, I can’t get around the fact that Gwen also should’ve been honest.  There, on that one point, I can’t walk in her shoes.


Anyway, sorry it’s not that funny of a post today.  I find this to be an endlessly intriguing subject nonetheless.  If sexuality is on a continuum then I’m sure gender can be as well.  I think trans-people, in general, are very brave.  More so than gay people even.  My hat is off to them and even as I figure this out, I’ll help in any way that I can.


As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts.




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44 thoughts on “Understanding Lana Wachowski

  1. Good post and like I’ve always said, live and let live. Larry wasn’t happy so he did something about it. Good for her. I wish more people (yours truly included) had the guts to go for what they really want –rise above the fear and unknown.

    1. that really is the bottom line, isn’t it? being true to one’s self is the ultimate goal and if you can achieve that while also not giving a feck what everybody else thinks…well, then you have truly arrived. great comment, jules. thank you. xo, sm

  2. Ah, Sweet Mother, I love how you roll – another thought provoking post. I agree, murder is NEVER okay, but disclosing the big stuff so all parties can make informed decisions is important, and in some cases life-changing.

    I hope you NaNoWriMo. I am an illicit writer, and I thoroughly recommend it. Currently I have two proper sensible writing projects underway, but my favourite is the one I write when I’m supposed to be writing other stuff. It’s a series of children’s fantasy novels. And it’s my secret obsession. So I say go with the illicit. You’ll be amazed at how productive you can be, and how much joy sneaks back into your life and your writing.

    Much love to you xoxo

    1. i am SO going to nanowrimo. i’m just not sure if my nano is going to be any good because i am overdrawn so to speak. but, sometimes, for me, that’s a good thing – creatively. you, on the other hand, are prolific in your output. honestly, sometimes it astounds me. thank you for the great commentary here, as always, caldrons. much love, sm

  3. Nice post. Good luck on the NaNoWriMo!
    I have always found it difficult to wrap my head around the fact that gender and sexual orientation aren’t really connected, but you make a good point. I am not in a position to refute it, and it all comes down to an individual’s choice, which I immensely respect. That having said, being forthcoming about any change that could potentially affect the relationship with another person is important too. Nothing warrants murder. But, I think it was disingenuous of her to not come clean.

    1. thank you, ap. i alway appreciate a kind word from you. i have difficulties wrapping my head around this kind of stuff too. but, in the end i do believe, everyone has to make themselves happy. i think with gwen she was very, VERY young. so were her murderers, everyone in their 20s or younger. unfortunately, maybe gwen was a little too trusting here of the absolutely WRONG people. i do think she should’ve come clean so to speak, but that doesn’t mean these a-holes wouldn’t have done what they did. it was brutal from what i’ve read and they had way too much time to process for it just to be a rage blackout. it disgusts me. but, in the end, i think all of us civilized people need to talk about these things, so we can be clear headed when we protect the people that need it most. much love, sm

  4. Wow. Just, wow. I am only halfway through watching the video and I had to stop it so I could comment.
    I am interested to know more about this question you asked: “Is there something intrinsically insulting-feeling about a person born male becoming female?”
    What is it that you find potentially insulting?
    My clinical supervisor is specializes in working with trans folks, and so I am fortunate to have gleaned some knowledge from him on the subject, and I have heard about opinions and stigma based on the male gender being valued more highly, so that people often look down on a bio-male who is willing to “give up” his privilege to become female, and to criticize a bio-female for trying to gain power by becoming male. Does this factor into what you were saying?

    As for Lana- I love the way she so matter-of-factly talks about gender also being on a spectrum (like sexuality) and her criticism of the world’s slowness in examining “the pathology of a society that refuses to acknowledge a spectrum of gender…”
    She’s awesome, and she inspires me!
    And I wanna go see Cloud Atlas.

    1. lyssa, you bring up such great points and questions. SERIOUSLY. i think i touched upon this in my piece i wrote about oscar pistorious. in that piece, i also talked about trans athletes and how part of me has…not a problem, but more of a concern…with those born male, then transitioning to female competing as women. i suppose i do have a bias that says the men will always be stronger, even if it’s just stronger of mind from years of male competition and confidence. this is not that i think men are smarter than women, it’s that men (and often their testosterone) dictate a sort of confidence, where as women are always questioning themselves. so, there’s that and you hit such a great point. there is a part of me that thinks a trans-man wants to “pass” as hetero. though, i KNOW that’s not the case. it’s that the mind and the physical aspect don’t match up. intellectually, i understand all of this, but on a gut instinct level i go, “heeeeyyyy, now…” at least a little bit. in fact, you could take all of the trans out of it and talk about drag. sometimes when i see drag performers i think, “okay, they’re like women, but women on roids…” it’s heightened/ false sense of womanhood, if you know what i mean. now, of course, part of that is just performance. plain and simple and when you perform, you enhance and exaggerate. so, yes, i have those biases and i try to work through them feckin’ daily. lool. in the end, i do think it’s a ‘live and let live’ thing. lana is also SO inspirational. you can’t watch that and not go, wow, transitioning was the exact right thing for her. she just seems so damn authentic. so, that’s my garbled thoughts on the subject. i love all trans and all drag, for the most part too, btw. it’s a political firestorm when you’re gay and tread into these waters. sigh. i too can not wait to see ‘cloud atlas.’ loool. xo, sm

      1. it’s really good, right? i’m so glad i watched it. i think it really gave me a new perspective. i also like what she says about anonymity. really interesting stuff… xo

  5. I’m always tickled when you stop by, and gloat when I make YOU laugh! That said, I like your more serious posts… they generally stir me.

    Not sure why my gravatar/ icon is not showing my picture anymore… I’m totally lost on this stuff! I keep checking and it still shows as that lame, generic thing. I’ve always wondered about yours: is that you? How did you choose it… I’m stuck for now with goofy ones.

    1. oddly, when i hover over your generic picture with my mouse, i see the real one! i have no idea why tho. i’m clueless with some webby things. my gravatar is not me. it’s a creative commons pick. a really old one from the 50s or 60s that is now a national archive pic and therefore up for use. national archives isn’t right…it’s more like the ‘commons’ archive. i wanted something that represented a mom or sweetness, even tho i’m the number 1 (self proclaimed) childless mommy blogger and not usually very sweet. you know, take ’em one way and then hit ’em with your left. looool. glad you like the more serious stuff. it seems to be a mix what i put up on here. but, i’m okay with that! xo, sm

  6. Moms, I wrote a short story about a little boy who was transgender. My creative writing teacher and the class loved it. When you write these “deep” posts it always makes me stop….and think. You’re very Oprah-like that way. :D. I saw that movie, Bound a long time ago and it was very good. I did NOT know that about the Matrix trilogy. Did you ever see the movie, “Door to Door” with William H. Macy? His character said something like, “God doesn’t make mistakes.” I try to think that way…but I agree with you that you’ve got to be honest — with yourself and with others. That’s the beginning of gaining acceptance I think and for some, it’s much more difficult to receive that acceptance.

    1. whenever i write one of these pieces right when i’m done writing it, i go, ‘what in the feck am i doing…” and then i hit publish anyway. lol. i don’t think i saw door to door…but, it’s going in my netflix cue now. btw, saw marigold hotel based on your recommendation. i enjoyed it. and i hear you about acceptance… it’s hard for people to hear and yet important for them to take in, sometimes, i believe. and i’ll take oprah any day… even if it’s more like the poor man’s oprah or ‘noprah’ as my friends would say. looool. that short story sounds pretty cool too. maybe you should throw it up on the old blog one day. xo, sm

  7. Great post and happy writing. Every day I thank my lucky stars that I was born into a corner of the world where we could write openly, without fear of persecution or worse.
    My ex brother in law “Andy” is now “Barb”, a woman in every way. She is in a long term relationship with another woman. To throw my 2 cents worth in – she had mother issues (no pun intended)Born into a wealthy regimented South African (white) family, her mother punished her by locking her for hours in her closet. My armchair psychology suggests the need for female affirmation. 🙂

    1. “the need for female affirmation.” that is so, so, SO interesting, notes. i think that gender is such a mind AND body thing. so, i can totally see how abuse of that nature would manifest itself in another way such as this. sad, really. and i, too, feel very lucky to be able to say what i want when i want, especially since i’m carrying around these lady parts and all. ;0 lawd knows some places that would not be tolerated. anyway, glad you enjoyed the post and as always, thank you for reading it. much love, sm

  8. I didn’t know that one of the creators of the Matrix was/is transgendered, but now that I do I am in awe of the courage she showed in coming out and, more importantly, giving up her anonymity… to help others. For me, that is the true definition of bravery. Bravo Lana Wachoski and bravo Mum. 🙂

      1. Me too! The Matrix series is one of my all time favourites and now I know why Trinity was such a great, strong character. Cloud Atlas is definitely something we’re going to go see.

  9. Hello lovely SM,
    For a time in my teen/adult crossover I was undergoing the hormones to cross gender.It was a fraught and hectic time, as I was also just becoming a professional performer and finding the scene and where I fit, doing oodles of drugs and living 150% full on. It sent me even more crazy than before and I felt that my brain was plunged back into the abyss of puberty again. In the end my family and some friends staged an intervention and stopped me. In my head I thank them regularly but in my heart sometimes I’m not so sure. Life has turned out very well for me in this body so I can hardly complain,
    Portia xx

    1. portia, as always, your comment is endlessly interesting. that sounds rough. completely. i’m glad your friends and fam stopped you if you were spiraling out of control because lawd knows -and i know this simply from how you comment on this blog- you have something awesome to contribute to this world. as far as gender, my real and bottom-line is – everyone must make themselves happy and who am i to tell another what to do. that is my baseline. i don’t always understand everything about it, but i have a great deal of empathy for people who, especially, don’t feel like they fit in. i think we can all understand that far more than we let on. but, then i hear something like lana wachowski’s speech and i go, “i don’t know anything at all. and for her, that was the exact right thing to do.” anyway, sweet portia, i’m forever grateful that you read my blog. much love, mother

  10. I am so glad you wrote this, and posted the video. I consider myself to be a pretty live- and- let- live kind of girl, but transgender stuff has always been a struggle for me to understand, maybe because I am lucky enough to LOVE everything about being a woman.
    After watching the video, and listening to this brilliant, funny woman, there is no doubt in my mind that she did what was best and truest for her. Another reminder that my mind and heart must remain open lest I miss out on something so moving, it changes the way that I see.
    Thank you for sharing this.

    1. dear me, thank you for this lovely comment. you are not alone in your struggle to understand, as i struggle with it too… mostly, for the same reason that you’ve mentioned. i, too, felt as you did. after watching the video, i was left with, well, she did the absolute right thing for her, now, didn’t she? i mean the video is just so damn authentic. and i have to say it shifted my perspective a bit as well. anyway, thank you for reading and watching and leaving such a great comment. much love, sm

  11. Incredible. That is amazing! What a terrific talk!! Loved that video. Fabo, fabo. Thanks for sharing something I’d likely never come across otherwise. Wonderful.

  12. Bless you Sweet Mother. As straight person, I have found it difficult to ask questions when I don’t “get it” for fear of offending. My don’t get it is the same as your don’t get it. I have a friend that I work with for many years. He was the real “ladies man”. The girls would hang all over him. It was several years before he had a serious relationship and stopped being a player. Shortly after this is when he announced that he wanted to be (perhaps that should be needed to be) a woman. The company we worked for had professionals come in and talk to us and explain what would happen, how it would happen, when it would happen and supplied counselling for those who felt they had trouble accepting it. I thought this was a brilliant way to handle it for everyone. Unfortunately, his girlfriend did not work with us and she had a great deal of trouble with this. Not because he was becoming a woman, but because when he became she, she still wanted to have her as her girlfriend. This was the hardest part for everyone but mostly for the her. She and her family were very supportive of him becoming a woman but they could not accept her still wanting to be her girlfriend. They did not come back from that. Watching what has happened to this family will always leave me wondering.
    Thank you for posting this video, I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, Lana. I will listen to this more than once.
    Thank you.

    1. when you’re a comedian for so long, you lose your ‘afraid of offending’ button. seriously. the good thing is that i’m also sensitive, so i know that i can ask and keep it in the vein of “this comes out of my ignorance or attempting to understand” as opposed to, “you’re wrong!” which is the way, unfortunately, a lot of people approach things! i think the hardest thing to understand is that gender and sexuality seem to be very different things. i can understand your co-workers girlfriend not being completely on board tho. it takes a VERY special person to see someone through that change. wifesy and i have talked about it, just in casual conversation, and we were both like, “i love you because you’re you AND because you are a girl…” so, if one of us changed sex, well, it wouldn’t work anymore. luckily, neither of us plan to do so. i love being a woman, so if you see me trying to take on the a male identity, you’ll know i’ve had a stroke. i do think, tho, that our lack of complete understanding is due to the fact that we are born in the right bodies. i can not imagine what it must feel like to be born in the wrong one. though, i can imagine it must be horrible. i love that your work brought in counselors. i DO think that’s the right thing to do when working with someone who is transitioning. communication brings about, if not understanding, then less fear. and less fear of one another is a good thing. as for lana, i thought it was one of the best speeches of this type i had ever heard. and lastly, how are you feeling after the fp? have you been able to come up for air yet? xoxo, sm

      1. Oh yes, I have come up for air. It really only lasted for a day and only got complicated because I had to actually work that day. It was great fun while it lasted though. Now, I have to figure out how to have it happen on my own blog 😉

      2. trust me, now it will. because it means your on their radar. so, keep pumping out quality and it will happen. i think wp sometimes finds blogs to fp through other bloggers. i’m not kidding. so, they know of me…and were keeping an eye on canadica… i’m not kidding, i think that’s part of how it works. i think before they knew of me, they came to know of me through stacie chadwick and some other people who started paying attention to my blog. i could be wrong, but i don’t think so… xoxo, sm

  13. Sweet Mom..its a thought provoking post…i never thought about the difficulty and issues a trans gender goes through,….no one does…alot of people may accept gays and lesbians but not many of them would feel the same for a transgender …
    i accept i never thought how brave a transgender is …but now that i read i was like actually thinking about it….

    and the hate crimes are just the worst thing ever…

  14. Regarding NaNoWriMo, I agree with the commenter above who suggested you “go with your illicit.” I love this idea. What if we all fully embraced the illicit within ourselves?

    As for the commentary on transgender issues, I appreciate your measured and thoughtful response. I know a couple of transgendered people, and I have enormous admiration for their courage, and enormous respect for the family and friends who support them.

  15. Your post inspired my post today…the question that kept popping up…can someone be pushed too far from that emotional ledge and is it far or just to hold them accountable? Thanks for your thought provoking postings!

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