The director of the hit Matrix trilogy has spoken of the agony she faced growing up as a transgender child.
Lana Wachowski, 47, who lived as a man called Larry until 2002, admitted that she had come close to committing suicide as a teen by nearly jumping in front of a train.
The flame-haired director also told how she had once suffered a physical beating at the hands of a Catholic school nun, while giving an emotional speech at the Human Rights Campaign’s gala fundraising dinner in San Francisco.
Miss Wachowski, one half of the sibling directing team behind the hit movie series starring Keanu Reeves, was on hand to accept the Visibility Award, and admitted that she once believed: ‘I was a freak, that I am broken, that there is something wrong with me, that I will never be lovable.’
Now married to her second wife, the director – who has joined forces with her brother Andy once again to bring the hit book Cloud Atlas to the big screen – told how hard it was to break her silence on her transition.
In her speech – which is printed in full in the Hollywood Reporter- Miss Wachowski reminisced about her childhood, saying: ‘I remember the third grade, I remember recently moving and transferring from a public school to a Catholic school. In public school I played mostly with girls, I have long hair and everyone wears jeans and t-shirts.
‘In Catholic school, the girls wear skirts, the boys play pants. I am told I have to cut my hair. I want to play Four Square with the girls but now I’m one of them — I’m one of the boys.
‘Early on I am told to get in line after a morning bell, girls in one line, boys in another. I walk past the girls feeling this strange, powerful gravity of association. Yet some part of me knows I have to keep walking. As soon as I look towards the other line, though, I feel a feeling of differentiation that confuses me. I don’t belong there, either.
‘I stop between them. The nun I realize is staring at me, she’s shouting at me. I don’t know what to do. She grabs me, she’s yelling at me. I’m not trying to disobey, I’m just trying to fit in. My silence starts to infuriate her, and she starts to hit me.’
The nun only stopped when the director’s mother turned up, as she recalled: ‘She jumps out of her car, she hurls herself at this nun. She rips me away from her, rescues me. She warns the nun never to touch me again.’
However, even Miss Wachowski’s mother could not understand what her son was going through, as she said: ‘She takes me home and she’s trying to understand what happened, but I have no real language to describe it.’
As a teenager, the director joined the school theater department – mainly to wear the ‘beautiful’ dresses.
And after battling an ‘intense anxious isolation coupled with constant insomnia’, she was left with an ‘inescapable depression’ during her sophmore year in high school.
She told how she kept a ‘strange, relentless vigil’ in front of the mirror – as she was afraid to develop facial hair.
After believing the voices in her head that: ‘I was a freak, that I am broken, that there is something wrong with me, that I will never be lovable, she went to a local Burger King and wrote a four page suicide note.
She said: ‘I really wanted to convince them that it wasn’t their fault, it was just that I didn’t belong. I cry a lot as I write this note, but the staff at Burger King has seen it all before, and they seem immune.’
As she prepared to throw herself in front of a subway train from an empty platform, an old man came in and stared at her, as she said: ‘He stares at me the way animals stare at each other. I don’t know why he wouldn’t look away. All I know is that because he didn’t, I am still here.’
Miss Wachowski, who divorced college sweetheart Thea Bloom in 2002 before marrying her second wife, whose name she has never revealed, continued: ‘Years later I find the courage to admit that I am transgender and this doesn’t mean that I am unlovable.
‘I meet 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.’
The director – who broke down in tears after her speech – added: ‘I have been out to my family and friends for over a decade and for the majority of that time I have been discussing this, this particular moment with my therapist, with my family and my wife, because I know eventually I will do it but I know there is going to be a price for it.
‘I knew I was going to come out but I knew when I finally did come out I didn’t want it to be about my coming out. I am completely horrified by the “talk show,” the interrogation and confession format, the weeping, the tears of the host, whose sympathy underscores the inherent tragedy of my life as a transgender person.’
She added: ‘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 and 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.’
The Wachowskis have adapted the hit book Cloud Atlas for the big screen. Cloud Atlas premieres October 26, 2012.