What Kind of Trans Are You?

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There is a tremendous eruption of discussion, categorization, and disagreement going on now in the Trans community. Two excellent articles were published by Jillian Weiss and Mercedes Allen on Bilerico and have garnered an astounding number of comments. This is, of course, usually the case when anyone says anything about Trans in a public forum. I have compared it to lobbing a bowling ball into a dense minefield, setting off a chain reaction far beyond anything you might have expected, as each personal expression of outrage triggers several more.

Briefly, Jillian speaks for Trans and LGBT unity idealistically and Mercedes criticizes Trans unity as artificial, yet needed in some better form to make progress. As I understand it, the core issue is how concerns of surgical transsexuals are addressed under the more encompassing term, transgender. The formal distinction is whether the individual has undertaken any form of deliberate body modification to acquire the physical characteristics of the opposite chromosomal sex (biosex). Thus transsexuals are people who have modified their bodies by physical, medical, or surgical methods. In this strict sense, transgenders are people who have any erotic or physical sexual characteristic that is similar to persons of the opposite biosex or unlike persons of the same biosex.

Practical XX and XY androgyny (click)

Thus, transgender really encompasses the intersex, the transsexual, the cross-dresser, the genderqueer, the “admirer” or “tranny chaser”, the bisexual, the polyamorous, and, in some limited sense, both the gay and the straight. It is a true umbrella concept. Since gender is a social artifice, while biosex is a physical reality of human life, we should find ways to remove gender details as a matter for debate and discussion. We need to get beyond verbal battles over the exact meaning of sex and gender, and open the door to social acceptance of all orientations and presentations. All people want to get on with much more important matters. The key concept lies within the term trans-.

In English, trans- can have many effects when applied to a root word. Trans-sexual specifies a sub-attribute of sexual that has a complementary formation, cis-sexual. The same is true of trans-gender and cis-gender. On the other hand, a form like trans-it or trans-portation implies movement from one place to another. Trans- can also imply a movement toward a new viewpoint from which true unities and harmonies can be discovered and enjoyed, as in tran-scend.

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One interesting modern use of trans- is in the term trans-human. The meaning of the term is quite clear—anything beyond the purely human, whatever that is taken to be by the speaker. The word may be a noun or an adjective and gives rise to the term trans-human-ism, which refers to the study (by trans-human-ists) of what it means to be or become transhuman and how that state or process might be achieved either now or in the future. There is a substantial community of human transhumanists, loosely organized as Humanity+ (formerly the World Transhumanist Association), with a large number of dependent, allied, supporting, and affiliated groups focusing their efforts on different aspects of what it would / will / does mean to be transhuman either speculatively through the imagination, achievably in time, or immediately by simple direct choice from available technology.

Let us assume for the purpose of discussion that heteroerotic cisgender sexplay is, as so many humans agree, the only normative form of human sexual orientation and gender identity (SO+GI). Then transhuman SO+GI is necessarily something more than human and could potentially accommodate all degrees of variation on each dimension of SO+GI. (These dimensions are discussed in the paper I Am An Intersex Bisexual Transgender And So Are You, which presents a model for describing all forms of human erotic expression.)

Thus transhuman erotic behavior necessarily includes all possible forms of SO+GI expression and it appears that the vast transgender population is probably the majority of all transhumans on Earth. As individuals, we may or may not be transhumanists, that is, students of transhuman emergence. But we are all living transgender examples of what it means to actually be and live and love and creatively harmonize the transhuman, through our own personal transphysical, transmental, or transmotivational developments.

Collectively, we are all trans-. And specifically, we are all transhuman, because our experience and expression of the dimensions of SO+GI departs from the human norm. We should claim our place under the transhuman umbrella with many other people who are similarly transhuman because they have augmented their metabolism, nervous system, skeletal structure, mind function, or motivational consciousness by artificial means.

SO+GI is the most fundamental defining quality of our personal identity. From these dimensions of possibility flow all the unique personalities of individuals, being the instantiation of love in distinct persons. Oppressive acts of families and societies that deny the free expression of individual SO+GI fundamentally distort the growth and function of the human personality. No one has the right to tell another what SO+GI to express, and no society has the right to impose any strictures on individual or collective SO+GI expression.

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Transhumans do not pursue a collective agenda. Rather, they find a few important principles on which they can agree and give everyone the freedom to work to realize these principles without uniformity of viewpoint or approach. By itself, unity without uniformity is the transcending method of conflict resolution, and those who will completely devote themselves to its honest application will find the power to achieve any true and loving purpose.

Transhumans, to be successful as a growing body of committed individuals for the indefinite future, will have to be guided, as a group, by some great vision of a transcendent goal that, once achieved, will justify the efforts of transhumans to bring it into existence.

An initial step towards such a goal is to reach towards a position of unity among all trans- that necessarily recognizes the commonality of our desire to enhance our experience of life by the rational development and utilization of scientifically based technology.

I am a transhuman. I believe the time has come for the transgender community to recognize that we are each individually transhuman ourselves. As such, we are the natural successors to the human, hence the current social and economic warfare against us by those who are scared of the consequences of accepting the human transformation. We refute the foolish myths on which much of modern society is built. But this is not an exclusive club. Anyone willing to reorder life priorities based on love rather than hate is becoming transhuman. All transfolk are transhuman by nature. Our goal should be to recognize these unifying transhuman qualities in our transgender selves and visibly express them through the example of our lives.

—Dan Massey