Introducing Columbia

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When we attended Creating Change in Minneapolis in early February, we were frequently asked “Why Columbia?” To answer this question we might as well start with explaining what Columbia is, and how it relates to our website name, VenusPlusX, and the familiar trigender symbol we associate with our work.

It’s pretty obvious that the word symbol C-O-L-U-M-B-I-A is based on “Columbus,” the name of the purported “discoverer of the new world,” but how did this begin? The great lexicographer, Samuel Johnson, seems to have first used “Columbia” (rather than “America”) as a rather obvious codeword to designate the colonies in North America in reports he prepared of parliamentary debates in which actual names could not be used. Over time popular usage increased and, by the 18th century, the name had come to designate the spirit of an emerging nation.

Columbia was depicted in feminine garb, adopting the red, white, and blue colors. By the time of the founding of the nation, the image of Columbia had become that of a popular demigoddess, a power guarding our nation in the fulfillment of its destiny, a personalization of our collective ideals of freedom, equality, justice, and liberty for all. The song, “Hail, Columbia” was effectively our national anthem until replaced by the “Star Spangled Banner.” The words of the second verse speak in depth to our national spirit:

Immortal patriots, rise once more,
Defend your rights, defend your shore!
Let no rude foe, with impious hand,
Let no rude foe, with impious hand,
Invade the shrine where sacred lies
Of toil and blood, the well-earned prize,
While off’ring peace, sincere and just,
In Heaven’s we place a manly trust,
That truth and justice will prevail,
And every scheme of bondage fail.
Firm, united let us be,
Rallying round our liberty,
As a band of brothers joined,
Peace and safety we shall find.


By joining ourselves to the name, Columbia, we proudly declare our allegiance to the cosmic ideals on which the nation was founded. Columbia is not merely a mythic vision attached to a set of sublime ideals. In Columbia, that vision finds resonance with the forces of destiny that shape humanity’s development away from the superstitious linear imperatives of history towards a fabulous future in which our highest ideals of beauty, goodness, truth, and love find full realization, even in everyday life.

In future posts we will further explore the true meaning we attach to Columbia in depth. Because the word “Columbia” is in extensive commercial use for almost every conceivable purpose, and our organization needs a name under which to do business that is relatively unique to us and our purpose, we have adopted “VenusPlusX” as the name under which we do business. VenusPlusX is the title of a science fiction novel by Theodore Sturgeon, published in 1960. In this novel, Sturgeon envisions a future in which all humans are physical androgynes, possessing reproductive organs of both sexes. Although Sturgeon’s novel is fantasy, its vision resonates with our own concepts of a transgender future for those who would be transhuman.

Let the trigender symbol stand as a wordless reminder of the power of unity in diversity across all variations in the expression of Love, the desire to do good to others.

–Dan Massey