'Daily Mail' Denies Lilly Wachowski's Claim That Publication Tried to Out Her as Transgender

by Antoinette Bueno 10:40 AM PST, March 09, 2016
Photo: Windy City Times

The British newspaper the Daily Mail is denying director Lilly Wachowski's claim that the news organization attempted to prematurely out her as a transgender woman.

Wachowski, 48, publicly came out on Tuesday in a statement to Chicago's Windy City Times, and claims she was recently confronted at her home by a reporter from the British newspaper, as opposed to the reporter reaching out through her publicist.

"He proceeded to explain he was a journalist from the Daily Mail, which was the largest news service in the UK and was most definitely not a tabloid," Wachowski writes. "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! And that I really didn't want to have someone from the National Enquirer following me around, did I? BTW -- The Daily Mail is so definitely not a tabloid."

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But in a statement to ET on Wednesday, a spokesperson denies that the organization in any way tried to coerce Wachowski into revealing her gender transition.

"As Ms. Wachowski herself says, we were not the first media organization 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 cooperation," the spokesperson says. "Our reporter was extremely sympathetic and courteous at all times, as is obvious from our transcript of the exchange."

The British paper claims that the reporter's conversation with Wachowski even ended with Wachowski agreeing to call him the following day.

"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," the statement continues.

However, Wachowski writes that the incident did in fact force her to come out.

"My sister Lana and I have largely avoided the press," Wachowski explains. "I find talking about my art frustratingly tedious and talking about myself a wholly mortifying experience. I knew at some point I would have to come out publicly. You know, when you're living as an out transgender person it's … kind of difficult to hide. I just wanted -- needed --some time to get my head right, to feel comfortable.

"But apparently I don't get to decide this."

Meanwhile, Tracy Baim, publisher and co-founder of Windy City Times, tells ET that "Windy City Times has covered the 'T' in the LGBT community since 1985. So it was a great honor when Lilly Wachowski contacted us to be the place where she told her story. We try very hard to cover the vast diversity within the LGBT community. To have that acknowledged by a Chicagoan in her coming out story is a validation of the work we do."

ET also talked to Cathy Renna, a longtime media activist and PR expert who has worked with transgender clients and organizations, who believes that Wachowski should be able to come out through a publication of her choice.

"Celebrities who want to disclose something -- whether it's their HIV status or that they are LGBT -- they're now in a position where they can hold out and go to an outlet that is going to cover their story in a sophisticated way, somewhere other than a place like the Daily Mail," Renna says. "The bar is higher. The standard is higher, and she has every right and was really smart to go to a publication that is going to do an excellent job telling her stories and framing it the right way."

"The media needs to be responsible," she adds. "It's their decision what kind of reporting they're going to do -- and the Daily Mail and other tabloids, they make decisions every day about coverage and headlines and how they frame things."

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Meanwhile, GLAAD showed its support for Wachowski on Tuesday, while condemning the outing of a transgender person.

"GLAAD is thrilled that Lilly Wachowski is able to be her true and authentic self today, however, she should not have been forced to disclose her transgender identity before she was ready to do so," Nick Adams, GLAAD Director of Programs for Transgender Media, said in a statement. "Journalists must learn that it is unacceptable to out a transgender person, in the same way it is unacceptable to out a person who is gay, lesbian, or bisexual."