It’s been more than 20 years since the Wachowski sisters blew our minds and forever changed pop culture with The Matrix, their iconic sci-fi film franchise. But is there any merit to queer fans’ interpretation of the classic movie as a trans allegory?
Speaking to Netflix, filmmaker Lilly Wachowski reflected on the beloved films and their special place in the hearts and minds of trans geeks. Though she and her sister, Lana Wachowski, were closeted when the first Matrix movie premiered in 1999, both have since come out as trans, Lana in 2012 and Lilly in 2016.
“I’m glad that people are talking about The Matrix movies with a trans narrative,” Lilly told the streaming service. “I love how meaningful those films are to trans people and the way that they come up to me and say, ’These movies saved my life.’ Because when you talk about transformation—specifically in the world of sci-fi, which is just about imagination and world-building, and the idea of the seemingly impossible becoming possible—that’s why it speaks to them so much.”
Lilly went on to explain how the trans allegory of it all—something queer fans have long theorized—was “the original intention.” “I’m glad that it has gotten out,” she added, “… but the world wasn’t quite ready yet. The corporate world wasn’t ready for it.”
Netflix also asked her about the character Switch, who was “a man in the real world and a woman in The Matrix.”
“The Matrix stuff was about a desire for transformation, but it was coming from a closeted point of view,” Lilly said. “And that’s where our [my and Lana’s] headspaces were.”
Lilly has used her platform to speak out about trans issues at length, even painting portraits of the 27 transgender Americans who were murdered in 2016. The revered filmmaker is also known for Sense8, the queer-inclusive Netflix original series she co-created. Most recently, she appeared in Disclosure, Netflix’s critically acclaimed new documentary about the history of trans representation in television and film.
We still have to wait until March 2021 for The Matrix 4, which is going to be queer AF, if its stacked cast is any indication. Until then, watch Lilly’s full interview with Netflix below.