When we think of our favorite stories, the ones which we form strong emotional bonds with are often the ones we see ourselves in. Stories like these are critical for our development and growth as individuals. They help us see ourselves in relation to the world and help us build connection and a sense of belonging. Often times, they help us to shape our own identity and build a sense of self-worth. At their simplest level, these stories communicate to an audience that they are not alone. It is the reason why representation in all forms of media is so important. For people in the transgender community, finding stories that provide representation has always proved difficult.
March 31st marks the annual celebration of the International Transgender Day of Visibility. For those who are unfamiliar, this day celebrates the existence, resilience, and accomplishments of transgender and non-gender conforming people all around the world. It is a day that can also serve to educate others on issues which the transgender community continues to face and the work which remains to be done for us to evolve into a trans-inclusive society. In honor of this day and the huge strides made by transgender artists who continue to push for the visibility of these stories, our Multimedia Department is putting a spotlight on items in our collection that represent different aspects and perspectives from the transgender experience. As trans artist and activist Janet Mock (Pose, Surpassing Certainty) puts it “Trans people are not a monolith. We come from many different experiences and backgrounds . . . (Mock J. as cited by Ifeany, K. C., 2016). We hope that in making these stories easier to find, so to can our transgender family and friends more easily find themselves.
Film & Television
The Wachowski Sisters
In 1999, the Wachowskis forever altered cinematic language with what was, at that time, only their second film. That film was The Matrix and, upon its release, it completely revolutionized filmmaking both through its technical approach as well as its screenplay, which presented radically new ideas and concepts film-goers had never before been exposed to. It was a clear game changer for the medium of film which broke down story telling barriers for years to come.
In 2010 they broke down barriers of different kind when Lana Wachowski came out to the world as a trans woman. Her sister, Lilly also came out publicly as a trans woman in 2016. As world-famous filmmakers, the Wachowski sisters’ transition was a journey which occurred under the spotlight of the media, which certainly helped wake up many outsiders to the narrative of the trans experience. Their established profiles as beloved blockbuster film-makers also made their public transition a tangible example which closeted or questioning trans people could identify and connect to. Because of their courage to live as their true selves, they have helped others to realize they are not alone, inspiring many to live out their truth.
Lilly and Lana Wachowski are both, in a word: uncompromising. It is what continues to make them such boundary breaking figures. They continue to push the boundaries of film-making to this day, constantly fighting for the integrity of their artistic vision, even when it challenges the comfort of our pre-conceived notions of story-telling. Continuing on in their spirit of subverting expectations, Lana Wachowski shocked fans by announcing her plans to return to the Matrix with a fourth entry in the series, 18 years after closing out the original trilogy. Her fourth Matrix movie, aptly-dubbed The Matrix Resurrections, is a wholly unique film, especially among the current trend of studios reviving long dead properties. Using a clever narrative which re-sets the returning heroes into a completely new environment, Lana Wachowski creates a meta-textual commentary for her own career; one which grapples with the legacy of her original Matrix film. The Matrix Resurrections, which is now available to borrow from the Chester County Library, is a daring work of art that actually uses its existence to say something new. While much of their work has often been polarizing, whenever you watch a Wachowski film, you are watching someone’s full artistic vision.
The Filmography of The Wachowski Sisters
Ifeanyi, K. C. (2016, December 2). “trans people are not a monolith”: Janet Mock wants to introduce you to 11 new friends. Fast Company. Retrieved March 22, 2022, from https://www.fastcompany.com/3066073/trans-people-are-not-a-monolith-janet-mock-wants-to-introduce-you-to-11-new-friends