Transgender Transhumans! Are you headed to Venus Plus X?
También en español Depending on how you space it, VenusPlusX or Venus Plus X, it’s no accident that you may have stumbled over a novel by Theodore Sturgeon of the same name. Since first reading Venus Plus X in 1960, it has invoked a strong resonance with my own inner truth even though it was Sturgeon’s creative imagination, a perhaps fantasy. It is our namesake because it stands as the earliest and still clearest exposition of the world’s essential ideas and ideals in the world of sex and gender, and guides the our work as advocates, educators, and activists.
In the novel, a 1950’s human male, Charlie, is transported through time to a distant future where the surviving population of earth is a people called the Ledom (that’s model spelled backwards). The Ledom are fully functional androgynes, being capable of mutual impregnation and of resulting individual pregnancy. Most of the novel is focused on exploring the emotional and dramatic situational differences between normative human bi-gender society (envisioned through time flashbacks) and the behaviors of the Ledom, who are free of all sex and gender inequalities and limitations.
Throughout most of the novel the reader is led to think that the Ledom are some natural product of human evolution or genetic reengineering. Near the end, after Charlie has become friends with some Ledom and given them some feedback on their society vs. primitive human society (1950s), they give him a rather detailed explanation of how they view the society from which he came and how that view has come to shape their own. This is Philo’s Manifesto, which is an authoritative debunking of human history, philosophy, religion, and pretty much everything else, while showing the way to a vastly higher and transcendent body of truth. This short statement it is a must read for every person on earth.
Although Philo’s Manifesto is surely one of the most remarkable and complete syntheses of rational human knowledge of a subject normally considered too exotic to be open to intelligent, unbigoted, unbiased discussion, the final reality of the Ledom is even more remarkable. While the directed biological redesign of the human race into the Ledom is surely enough to be called Transhuman, in the final chapters of the story it is revealed that Ledom reproduction is not entirely biological, but involves a complex symbiosis from conception to adulthood with elaborate medical machinery that continually reshapes the “natural” human biology of development into a series of stages that lead to reproductively mature Ledom. That is truly a Transhumanist idea and far ahead of its time!
Without the medical machines, Ledom infants would be ordinary human infants. The creation of the Ledom is a deliberate act of human creativity, expressed in biomedical technology. This is a transformation of a very basic human character as all members of society enter into this reproductive symbiosis with the machine as a way to perfect their society. They have diagnosed the problems of humanity and conclude they all begin with sexual dimorphism and the resulting bi-genderism that rises from ignorance and refusal to examine reality carefully. Their reproductive symbiosis with the machines allows each to mature into androgynes indistinguishable in hermaphroditic sexual function and completely without gender.
Like Sturgeon’s Ledom, we examine many of the problems of humanity. Like Sturgeon, we feel many of the problems would not exist if humans were perfectly androgynous; however, we see many technological alternatives to the “brute force” approach in the novel (remember that DNA had been discovered only a few years before the novel was written, and nothing was known of its detailed structure and function). For example, a simple reduction in the expression of secondary sexual characteristics and the adoption of extracorporeal fertilization and gestation could achieve similar objectives.
Thus, unlike the Ledom, we do not expect to abolish sexual dimorphism. Rather, we seek to encourage health and longevity by discouraging extreme dimorphism that causes the incorrect and unproductive bi-gender model, and encourage either biosex to develop as symmetrically as possible to enjoy the full range of psychosexual and gender experience available to the human nervous system.
Extracorporeal gestation remains a distant technological objective, although planned fertilization is now part of the culture.
Today, as we learn to accommodate the needs of consciously transgender pre-pubescent children, we know that even crude pharmacological intervention at puberty can greatly enhance the experience of androgyny for the matured adult.
The technology foreseen by Venus Plus X is still in the distant future and may never be developed as an option for directed human reproductive evolution. On the other hand, the social changes envisioned in the novel are ready to move ahead today, since they depend only on changing human hearts and minds, and that means education and socialization, not biology. At VenusPlusX.org, we know how quickly such changes can occur in individuals and in groups, once a successful meme has been sufficiently distributed. While we support research into the technology of androgyny, we understand that the time is here today to empower the Transgender Transhuman community to assume leadership in the revolution for full sex and gender freedom and equality.
Editor’s Note: This originally appeared in July 2011, and is one of several posts being reprinted here in connection with the relaunch of VenusPlusX after a year’s hiatus because they are especially elemental in our thinking.
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