Daily Mail denies claims it forced Lilly Wachowski to come out

Lilly Wachowski, whose sister Lana came out as transgender in 2012, has made a statement saying she has transitioned.
Lilly Wachowski, whose sister Lana came out as transgender in 2012, has made a statement saying she has transitioned.

A story about a famous filmmaker's gender transition has transitioned into one about the tabloid press.

When Lilly Wachowski, who co-directed The Matrix trilogy under the name Andy Wachowski, came out as a transgender woman earlier this week, she and her sister Lana Wachowski - who co-directed The Matrix under the name Larry Wachowski - joined Caitlyn Jenner among the ranks of the most famous transgender women in the world.

"So yeah, I'm transgender," Lilly Wachowski wrote in a lengthy statement to the Windy City Times, a Chicago LGBTQ publication.

"And yeah, I've transitioned. I'm out to my friends and family. Most people at work know too. Everyone is cool with it. Yes, thanks to my fabulous sister they've done it before, but also because they're fantastic people. Without the love and support of my wife and friends and family I would not be where I am today."

Lost in the unusual story - sibling directors of one of the most lucrative franchises in film history transition in the spotlight - was Wachowski's intense criticism of the tabloid press, particularly the United Kingdom's Daily Mail.

Wachowski said she came out under pressure from a Daily Mail reporter who showed up on her doorstep.

"He proceeded to explain he was a journalist from the Daily Mail ... And that I really had to sit down with him tomorrow or the next day or next week so that I could have my picture taken and tell my story which was so inspirational!" Wachowski wrote.

"And that I really didn't want to have someone from the National Enquirer following me around, did I?"

Wachowski said she was familiar with the Daily Mail because a transgender woman in England, school teacher Lucy Meadows, killed herself in 2013 months after she was scorned in an editorial by Richard Littlejohn in the paper.

"Miss Meadows may well be comfortable with his/her decision to seek a sex-change and return to work as if nothing has happened," Richard Littlejohn wrote in the paper - which has reportedly removed the editorial, now reposted here.

"The school might be extremely proud of its 'commitment to equality and diversity.' But has anyone stopped for a moment to think of the devastating effect all this is having on those who really matter? Children as young as seven aren't equipped to compute this kind of information." Littlejohn added: "He's not only trapped in the wrong body, he's in the wrong job." (Littlejohn did not return a request for comment.)

Wachowski explicitly called out the Daily Mail for the incident, which sparked protests in England.

"The reason I knew about (Meadows) wasn't because she was transgender it was because three months after the Daily Mail article came out, Lucy committed suicide," Wachowski wrote. She added: "And now here they were, at my front door, almost as if to say - 'There's another one! Let's drag 'em out in the open so we can all have a look!'" She said she feared the headline: "SEX CHANGE SHOCKER - WACHOWSKI BROTHERS NOW SISTERS!!!"

Now, in a lengthy statement to The Washington Post, the Daily Mail has dismissed Wachowski's claims.

"DailyMail.com categorically denies that it in anyway tried to coerce Lilly Wachowski into revealing her gender transition," a spokesman wrote. "As Ms Wachowski herself says, we were not the first media organisation to approach her and we made absolutely clear at several points in the conversation that we were only interested in reporting the story if and when she was happy for us to do so and with her co-operation."

The publication defended its reporting.

"Our reporter was extremely sympathetic and courteous at all times, as is obvious from our transcript of the exchange," it wrote. "Indeed the conversation with our journalist ended with Ms Wachowski agreeing to call him the following day."

It also took issue with Wachowski's claims about Meadows's suicide.

"The previous case to which she refers was a UK primary (elementary) school teacher, Lucy Meadows, who planned to return to school after the winter holidays in 2013 with a new sexual identity," it wrote.

"The Daily Mail did NOT 'out' her or hound her. The story emerged after the school wrote announcing the change to parents, some of whom contacted the local media because they were concerned their children might be too young to understand what had happened."

It also distanced itself from editorialist Littlejohn.

"The Daily Mail newspaper, which is a separate editorial operation to DailyMail.com, subsequently carried the personal view of a columnist who, while emphatically defending Ms Meadows' right to transition echoed some parents concerns about whether it was right for children to confront complex gender issues at such a vulnerable young age," it wrote.

"In the event, it emerged at her inquest that Ms Meadows made no mention either of the press in general or of the Daily Mail in particular in an extensive suicide note. As The Guardian reported at the time: 'In a note she left, she made no mention of press intrusion, citing instead her debts, a number of bereavements including the death of her parents, and her stressful job as a primary school teacher. She insisted she was not depressed or mentally ill and thanked her friends, family and colleagues for their support, as well as messages she had received from well-wishers around the world.'"

The Daily Mail concluded by expressing its goodwill toward Wachowski.

"We wish Lilly Wachowski well with her journey though we are surprised as to how she has reacted, given the courtesy and sensitivity with which the reporter approached her," it wrote.

- Washington Post

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter


© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf04 at 22 Oct 2016 19:05:17 Processing Time: 660ms