Lilly Wachowski confirms that, yes, The Matrix is an allegory for the trans experience
Lilly Wachowski, who co-directed and co-wrote The Matrix with her sister Lana Wachowski, has confirmed that the film series is a metaphor for the trans experience.
Lana and Lilly Wachowski co-wrote and co-directed the initial Matrix trilogy, released between 1999 and 2003, before either had come out as trans, and rumours have swirled that the iconic film series is an allegory for the trans experience.
Critics have suggested that the double life of hero Thomas Anderson/ Neo, played by Keanu Reeves, could signify a closeted trans existence, the “red pill” could symbolise red estrogen pills, and that the Matrix’s warnings being described by Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) as being “like a splinter in your mind” is a metaphor for gender dysphoria.
In 2016, film critic and YouTuber Film Runner pointed out the parallel that authority figures in the film always only refer to Neo as Mr Anderson, while his “friends use the name he has chosen for himself”.
Now, after years of speculation, Lilly Wachowski has finally confirmed that a trans narrative in The Matrix was the sisters’ “original intention”.
In an interview with Netflix Film Club on the 21st anniversary of the first film’s release, she said: “I’m glad that it has gotten out that that was the original intention. The world wasn’t quite ready for it. The corporate world wasn’t ready for it.”
Wachowski continued: “I’m glad people are talking about The Matrix movies with a trans narrative.
“I love how meaningful those films are to trans people and the way that they come up to me say, ‘Those movies saved my life.’
“Because when you talk about transformation, specifically in the world of science fiction, which is just about imagination and world-building and the idea of the seemingly impossible becoming possible, that’s why it speaks it to them so much.
“And I’m grateful I can be a part of throwing them a rope along their journey.”
Wachowski explained that the character of Switch, played by Belinda McClory, was originally written to be gender fluid, but the idea was ultimately thrown out.
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She said: “The Matrix stuff was all about the desire for transformation, but it was all coming from a closeted point of view.
“We had the character of Switch, who would be a man in the real world and then a woman in the Matrix, and that’s where [both of] our head spaces were.”
“I don’t know how present my transness was in the background of my brain as we were writing it,” she continued, “but it all came from the same sort of fire that I’m talking about.
“Especially for me and Lana, we were existing in this space where the words didn’t exist, so we were always living in a world of imagination.
“It’s why I gravitated toward science fiction and fantasy and playing Dungeons and Dragons.
“It was all about creating worlds. And so I think it freed us up as filmmakers because we were able to imagine stuff at that time that you didn’t necessarily see on screen.”