In an essay published in The Windy City Times, the 48-year-old Lilly, who formerly worked under the name Andy, explains that she decided to issue a public statement after several news outlets, most notably the Daily Mail, threatened to out her.
"My sister Lana and I have largely avoided the press," Lilly wrote. "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."
The Matrix co-director "should not have been forced to disclose her transgender identity before she was ready to do so," Nick Adams, GLAAD's 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."
Lilly acknowledged the dangers to outing transgender people against their will in her essay, citing the Daily Mail's treatment of elementary school teacher Lucy Meadows, who committed suicide three months after the paper's article on her was published.
However, the Daily Mail released its own statement, denying any attempts to coerce Lilly into revealing her transition and denying that they outed Meadows or played any role in her death.
"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 Daily Mail said in a statement. "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."
In her essay, Lilly also acknowledged how lucky she is to have a loving support system and the means to afford doctors and therapists throughout her transition, but explained that the process is far from over for her.
"To be transgender is something largely understood as existing within the dogmatic terminus of male or female. And to 'transition' imparts a sense of immediacy, a before and after from one terminus to another," she wrote. "But the reality, my reality is that I've been transitioning and will continue to transition all of my life, through the infinite that exists between male and female as it does in the infinite between the binary of zero and one. We need to elevate the dialogue beyond the simplicity of binary. Binary is a false idol."
Lilly is best known for directing the Matrix trilogy alongside her older sister, Lana. Together, the duo also produced V for Vendetta, Speed Racer and Jupiter Ascending, and created the Netflix series Sense8. In 2012, Lana came out as a trans woman and went on to receive the 2012 Human Rights Campaign Visibility Award two years later.
You can read Lilly's statement in its entirety here.