Lana Wachowski: Brutally Honest

6:00 AM PST 10/23/2012 by Seth Abramovitch

Cloud Atlas co-director Lana Wachowski is breaking her silence about her traumatic childhood. In a moving Oct. 20 speech at the Human Rights Campaign's gala fund-raising dinner in San Francisco, Wachowski revealed details about growing up transgendered. She suffered a beating at the hands of a Catholic school nun after she failed to join a line of boys and nearly committed suicide by jumping in front of a train before being stared down by a man who wandered onto the empty subway platform. "I don't know why he wouldn't look away," Wachowski told the audience. "All I know is that because he didn't, I am still here." Wachowski, 47, half of the sibling directing team behind The Matrix trilogy, was on hand to accept the Visibility Award for her recent decision to reverse her long-standing policy of eschewing press and public appearances and openly acknowledge her transition (a word she said she dislikes "because of its complicity in a binary gender narrative") to womanhood. Surrounded by brother Andy, their parents and her wife, Wachowski shared a brutally honest coming-out story with a crowd of 600 at the event, which for 28 years has raised funds for LGBT-friendly causes (previous honorees include Portia de Rossi, Precious director Lee Daniels and Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black). A source says Wachowski stepped off the stage after her 25-minute speech and cried for 10 minutes. "They've been contacting me off and on for a while, and I've always said, 'No, I don't do that sort of thing,' " Wachowski tells THR ahead of Cloud Atlas' Oct. 24 L.A. premiere, her first red-carpet appearance in at least 12 years. But her schedule worked out, "and my wife thought it was a good idea to do it now."

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