'The Matrix' is an allegory for being transgender, according to director Lilly Wachowski

clopez@businessinsider.com (Canela López)
·4 min read
the matrix movie
"The Matrix" was so influential that it no longer seems special.
  • "The Matrix" is about a man trying to escape a false reality by shedding an identity assigned to him by machines. 

  • Fans have longed viewed Neo's experience as a metaphor for being a closeted transgender person.  

  • Lilly Wachowski, co-director of "The Matrix," confirmed the fan theories on August 4 in a YouTube video.

  • "The corporate world wasn't ready for it," Wachowski said. "'The Matrix' stuff was all about a desire for transformation but it was all coming from a closeted point of view." 

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It has long been a fan theory that "The Matrix," one of the most beloved science fiction films in cinematic history, is an allegory for being transgender. 

In early August, co-director Lilly Wachowski confirmed the theory was correct all along.

"The corporate world wasn't ready for it," Wachowski said in a YouTube video for Netflix Film Club. "'The Matrix' stuff was all about a desire for transformation but it was all coming from a closeted point of view." 

"The Matrix" series was born out of the imagination of two trans women, Lana and Lilly Wachowski. When the films were released, neither sister had publicly come out as trans.

"I don't know how present my transness was in the background of my brain when we were writing it but it all came from the same kind of fire," Lilly Wachowski said in the video. "Trans people exist — especially me and Lana — in this space where the words didn't exist, so we were always living in a world of imagination." 

'The Matrix' is about breaking free of a simulated false 'reality,' like trans people break free of their gender assigned at birth

In "The Matrix," all of humanity is trapped in a simulated world created by machines." The film's protagonist, Neo, is recruited to the rebellion against the simulation. 

Fans have long said the very concept of breaking free of the false reality of "The Matrix" is an allegory for transgender people realizing their real gender identity versus the one they were assigned at birth. 

According to fan theories, Neo sheds his identity that the Matrix assigned him by creating a new one in the real world, similarly to how transgender people often stop going by their deadname (the name assigned to them at birth) and find a new name for themselves. 

Switch was intended to be a transmasculine character 

A character named Switch would have been the most pointed allusion to transness in the Matrix, according to Wachowski.

Originally, the Wachowskis wanted Switch to present as a man in the real world and a woman in the matrix, acting as a metaphor for transmasculine people.  

While Switch is played as a woman in the film in both worlds, they are still presented androgynously as a nod to the original concept. 

The red pill may represent estrogen, a type of HRT used to treat gender dysphoria 

Neo is presented with two options by a mysterious figure named Morpheus in the beginning of the first film in the series "The Matrix," the red pill which will reveal the truth of the matrix and the blue pill which will allow Neo to forget his interactions with Morpheus and continue on in the false reality. 

Writer Andrea Long Chu theorized in her book "Females: A Concern" that the red pill is reflective of the color of estrogen pills, a common hormone replacement therapy (HRT) treatment given to transgender women and transfeminine people to treat gender dysphoria. 

The term "red pill" has also been used in the past by men's rights activists to mean an "awakening" from feminism, which is framed as a "false reality" oppressing men. 

Read More: 

6 myths about trans people from TV and film — and the truth behind them

The problematic history of trans characters on screen is laid out in Netflix's 'Disclosure'

Gabrielle Union says it was 'odd' to get so much praise for supporting her transgender stepdaughter Zaya Wade because that's her job as a parent

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