By Patrick Yacco
Originally published on Advocate.com February 11 2014 1:25 AM ET
Equality Illinois, a statewide LGBT rights group, honored movie director Lana Wachowski at its annual gala Saturday with its Freedom Award, reports Windy City Times. In her acceptance speech, Wachowski, who is transgender, joked about recent inappropriate daytime talk-show interviews with trans celebrities but said she was "born this way" and is "just as natural as everyone else." Wachowski thanked the many people involved with passing marriage equality legislation in the state in 2013 by saying, "This night is less about you honoring me than it is about me honoring you."
Wachowski also referred to her physical appearance throughout the speech, opening with a discussion about her hairdresser and later offering an anecdote about the way children sometimes stare at her hair in awe. "I can sometimes see their imagination bright in their eyes, recallibrating the possible," she said. "Perhaps, naively, it's a hope that a symbol like pink dreads might help them understand one day that normal does not have to be defined for you, but rather by you."
Wachowski, who was born and grew up in Chicago, spoke at length about the difficulties of being a transgender person in a same-sex relationship. Once, during a road trip, Wachowski's wife needed medical attention and was admitted to a hospital, but Wachowski was denied access to see her. While marriage equality laws such as the one passed in Illinois will help same-sex couples avoid situations such as this, challenges remain. She continued by drawing parallels between the struggle for LGBTQ equality and the struggles of other groups for civil rights.
Wachowski has previously been honored by other LGBT rights groups, such as the Human Rights Campaign. She has directed several high-profile films in collaboration with her brother Andy, including Bound, the Matrix trilogy, and Cloud Atlas. The siblings' latest film, Jupiter Ascending, is scheduled for release this summer.
Watch her speech below.