Welcome to #TransTuesday! Today we’re talking about something a lot of trans folks, especially us trans ladies, get asked about a lot. And I’m tired of getting asked and I want something I can point people to, so… here we are, talking about THE MATRIX (part 1).
I say part 1 because I’ve already put about seven hours into this, and all I’ve done is collect screencaps and take notes during a rewatch to prep for this. My normal threads usually run 1500-2500 words, but I’ve already got 5000+ words of JUST NOTES.
Once I add my thoughts, I suspect we’re gonna hit 3 to 4 parts. So settle in, we’re gonna get Matrixy for a while, friends. If you weren’t aware, the Matrix is a (confirmed and intentional) trans allegory, written and directed by two trans sisters, Lilly and Lana Wachowski.
They weren’t out as trans when the movie was made, but that doesn’t change any of what we’re talking about. And I want to remind you that yeah, it’s a fantastic humans vs. machines sci-fi movie, and yeah it revolutionized action movies and special effects…
...and YEAH there’s an entire religious metaphor to explore, and all those things are well worth discussing. The movie is so dense and has so many layers I’m in awe just as a writer. But I’m ONLY going to talk about the trans metaphor aspect.
I can also only talk about it from my own point of view. There are some things you’ll see that are empirical, but a lot of it is my own interpretation as a trans woman and how and why it speaks to me, and what it’s saying about us.
Note that the very name, matrix, means a set of rules/procedures that define how something works. The society we all live in is our matrix (and yes, it does have you… well, many of you).
Let’s start with the characters. Neo’s our lead, the movie is about his journey (several different journeys, actually!), but in the trans metaphor it’s about his coming to terms with the fact that he’s transgender.
Neo always presents as male in the movie, of course, but remember this is metaphor and it was also made in 1999. It’s 22 years later and we STILL don’t have a transgender action movie lead, so we can’t hold that against them.
The surface level story is about Neo accepting that he’s “the one,” and that’ll tie in later. But his journey is a trans one. His chosen name, Neo, literally means “new.” His deadname, Thomas Anderson… roughly means twin of the manly or masculine.
I’m not making this up, friends. It’s THAT blatant if you look even just a little under the surface. I’m no psychoanalyst, but I believe Neo himself serves as his own ego.
Morpheus, in mythology, is the god of dreams. In the Matrix, Morpheus is Neo’s super-ego and subconscious, and knows of his dream to be his true self. He knows the truth about Neo and spends the entire movie trying to help him accept it.
Cypher is Neo’s id, and his doubt. A cypher is literally a secret, a code *that hides the truth*. It plages Neo, eating at him, sure that he’s in fact not trans and would be all too happy to just never think about it again.
Trinity is Neo’s self-actualization, the person he wishes to be. Her name alone tells you she’s Neo (the ego), Morpheus (the super-ego), and Cypher (the id) all rolled into one. In balance, in harmony, a whole person.
Also note SHE IS A WOMAN. The other three are men. Neo has to reconcile these (supposedly) male aspects of himself if he ever wants to attain self-actualization. Also note how similar Neo and Trinity look, even down to their hair. None of that’s by accident.
Everything in a movie is a choice. Maybe you don’t believe me now, but by the time we get to the end of these Matrix threads… I think you will. 😌 Agent Smith is society. So is the Matrix, of course, but Smith is the personification of it.
Other important things to know before we start: I believe the Oracle is Neo’s heart. I believe Tank is the trans community. And I believe the color red is VITAL to understanding this movie, wherein it stands for unequivocal truth.
Intrigued? I hope so. LET’S FUCKING GO. I have tried to provide timestamps for most of the things I’m talking about, as close as I could get them. Stick with me, you’ll follow everything okay I promise.
Okay so this is the opening shot of the movie. COME ON. “Trans” is literally right on screen! They’re telling you right off the bat. Also note the word before it is “call.” Communication is a key theme of the movie, and it’s vital to discovering that you’re trans.
I’m talking mostly about communication with yourself, i.e. actually exploring all the parts of yourself you didn’t allow yourself to see before. That’ll become clearer as we go. We then see the sign for the “Heart o’ the City” hotel. Our story begins (and ends) *in the heart.*
Trinity is in room 303. This is not just a “oh ha because her name is Trinity” gag. You’re gonna have to remember this number whenever we get to the very end of these Matrix threads, but don’t worry, I’ll remind you.
02:41 - A cop says “I think we can handle one little girl”. We open with a man being dismissive of a woman... who then kills all the men attacking her. Don’t underestimate the “little girl” INSIDE THE HEART (o’ the City hotel), who may be more than you can handle.
05:50 - We get our first phone zap out, showing you up front that communication is your literal lifeline.

07:00 - Look at the info on Neo’s computer. He’s been searching for Morpheus. He knows there’s something in his subconscious/dreams that he needs to find.
07:05 - Trinity sends a message to Neo, telling him to wake up. The woman inside the heart, his self-actualization, is trying to get him to see the truth.
07:47 - “Follow the white rabbit.” Alludes to a GIRL, Alice, who is brave enough to go down the rabbit hole, which leads her to a WONDERLAND. Note Neo’s apartment number.
08:28 - The title of the book where Neo keeps the information he shouldn’t have is titled “Simulacra and Simulation.” A surface-level nod to being in the matrix, sure, but a simulacra is an image or representation of something, often unsatisfactory.
NEO IS NOT AT HOME IN HIS BODY. He is not comfortable with the simulation of a cis man he has to put on because that’s what the rules/matrix expects. I’ve talked tons of times about how awkward and bad I felt trying to pretend to be the man society said I was.
He literally hides information society says he shouldn’t have (that he’s trans) inside a false shell, a costume of the man he “supposed” to be.
9:04 - Neo says, “Ever have that feeling where you’re not sure if you’re awake or still dreaming?” To me, this speaks to the dissociation I felt pre-transition, just trying to exist in a world that lied to me and wanted me to be someone I’m not.
10:02 - Neo’s at the party/club, but alone and away from everyone. This is exactly how I felt at any social gathering EVER. There, but not. Physically present, but isolated and alone. This stops when a WOMAN gets close to him. She knows his true name.
10:34 - Neo learns who Trinity is and says “I thought you were a guy.” Her reply, “most guys do.” Like I said, SOME OF THIS IS VERY SURFACE LEVEL. But also note that if Trinity is Neo’s self-actualization, he’s saying he thought HE was a guy. But he ain’t. 😮
10:59 - Trinity says to Neo “I know why you’re here Neo. I know what you’ve been doing. I know why you hardly sleep. Why you live alone, and why night after night you sit at your computer. You’re looking for him. I know because I was once looking for the same thing.”
“...And when he found me, he told me I wasn’t really looking for him. I was looking for an answer. It’s the question that drives us, Neo. It’s the question that brought you here. You know the question, just as I did.”
If Trinity is Neo’s self-actualization, she’s been through the process. She sought Morpheus/her dreams, she listened, she found the truth. In order to BE self-actualized, Neo must find that truth, and it starts with asking the right question.
12:00 - Neo works for METACORTEX. The cortex is the outermost layer of an organ (the surface level). Most commonly known is the cerebral cortex, which among other things controls our perception and memory, things kind of vital to our own knowledge of our true self!
Meta, of course, means to go beyond, to transcend. Neo is trapped in a drab, mundane life he hates inside Metacortex. To become his true self he has to transcend the boundary of his memory and perception of himself - escape the building.
12:04 - Neo’s looking out from Metacortex through the window. Window washers are cleaning it. In his brief encounter with Trinity/self-actualization, his view of the world is already becoming clearer.
12:17 - Neo’s corporate boss says, “You have a problem with authority, Mr. Anderson.” They do not know his true name. He continues, “You believe that you are special, that the rules do not apply to you.”
I think that’s the exact starting point for transitioning, choosing to not be bound by the “rules” of the gender binary of society. His boss goes on to say, “Every employee is part of a whole, thus if an employee has a problem, the company has a problem.”
So if one of us doesn’t conform, it threatens the entire power structure our society, our matrix, has set up around us. His boss wraps up with “The time has come to make a choice.” If Neo doesn’t conform, they don’t want him. Sound familiar?
13:00 - Neo’s cubicle is bare. No personal effects, no personality whatsoever. Trapped inside the Metacortex, Neo feels muted and dead. There’s no life, no joy. Exactly what it felt like before I knew I was trans.
13:03 - A FedEx guy asks if he’s Thomas Anderson. Look at his face when he hears that name. Is that the face of someone who likes that name? Who feels like he’s the person everyone thinks that name belongs to? It’s not who he is. (this pic breaks my heart)
13:40 - Neo gets a call from Morpheus. “I’ve been looking for you, Neo. I don’t know if you’re ready to see what I want to show you. But unfortunately you and I have run out of time. They’re coming for you and I don’t know what they’re going to do.”
Communication has opened up between the ego and the super-ego, between Neo and his dreams/desires. But they’re reaching a breaking point. If he doesn’t embrace his true self soon, society might crush it out of him. On cue, Smith arrives to do just that.
16:00 - Trying to leave the Metacortex via Morpheus’s instructions, Neo says, “Why is this happening to me? What’d I do? I’m nobody. I didn’t do anything. I’m going to die.” Whether he climbs out on the ledge or the agents get him, he feels doomed. Nobody asks to be transgender.
That was very much the feel of me teetering on the precipice of accepting my transness. If I didn’t, it would crush me. If I did, what might happen? What if it didn’t help? What if it wasn’t the right thing?
16:45 - Out on that precipice, Neo says “I can’t do this.” He gives up trying to escape. It’s too difficult. I can’t even tell you how many times I got to the edge of knowing I was trans but pulled back out of fear.
16:47- Our first mirror shot. Reflections are very important in this movie, they’ll pop up often. But this reflected image shows the world all warped. What’s Neo looking at? A WOMAN in RED. The truth is there, but distorted, and he can’t accurately see it.
You’ll get a whole lot more on the importance of RED next time. Gonna leave it there for today, but there’s still a long way to go. And if you think the above was intriguing… you haven’t seen anything yet. The best is yet to come.

Tilly Bridges, end transmission.
We continue in Part 2 here! 👇 https://twitter.com/TillyBridges/status/1407381188604416004
You can follow @TillyBridges.
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