dominicdemeyn

:Neutrois Niche:

Tag: trans*

The brave new world Part II: Transhumanist Research

The previous part of my article about Transhumanism was a short introduction of the movement that hopefully garnered a bit of interest for it.

The following is an elaboration on the introduction and another introduction for a third part that deals with one specific topic, that of the human form and related ideas about ethics.

However, let me begin by reiterating some basic tenets of transhumanism:

Transhumanists show a great interest in sceintif discovery and exploration, both of the external world around them and of themselves. Science fiction films and novels come to mind when one hears the word transhumanism, as it is implied that a lot of the concepts associated with this movement are revolutionary in a sense that they aim to go beyond the known, beyond what is even possible, beyond the human.

For this reason the movement has gained a lot of critics and skeptics. Since the movement focuses on such terms as future/enhancement/technology and on science, it is not very well understood and even often misunderstood and feared.

But little do critics take into account that without a spirit of endeavour and without transhumanist thought, the present as we know it would not have come into being, and perhaps not have come into existence so fast. For transhumanists often build upon the history of mankind and trace the roots of the movement back to the Age of Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution.

Today various scientific fields are full of transhumanist thinkers that aim at using their skills to enhance the human (quality of life and sustainability, cognition and other skills). The follwoing fields are areas of interest for scientific exploration (in no particular order): Cybernetics, Neuroscience, Molecular Biology, Nanotechnology, Information Technology.

Japan cyborg research enters the skull

mind_controlled_robot

From cloning cells to creating robotic body parts, transhumanism is our constant companion in the quest for human enhancement and scientific discovery.

As is exemplified in the article ‘Japan’s cyborg research enters the skull’ (dated 17th April, 2008), researchers aim to use “real-time mind-controlled robotic limbs” to enhance motor skills for disabled patients. The way to do this is quite intrusive, but might yield a better quality life for the patient.

Enhancing the human is designing the human, re-shaping the human form and thus allowing for new concepts about what is human and how a human should/can perform. Scientific research and engineering (the practical and visible) spills over onto other fields as well, the Arts and Humanities, for example, where the concept of ‘Human’ is being re-adressed as part of the transhuman discourse. This might also have effects on other, not so obvious fields, such as Transgender Theory (eg. reassignment surgery) and Queer Theory (non-traditional ways of assigning gender).

Casual encounters

I’m not getting anywhere with job or apartment hunting.

Yesterday I was supposed to have a look at one, but the realty person did not turn up. Our group of people waited for more than an hour, then I left, so I don’t know if this person eventually did turn up. I had time, but it’s still frustrating. I did not have the number, otherwise I would’ve called and perhaps found out about why we were all standing in front of a house, us strangers thrown together by the need to move from our current places into a new one. It was interesting to see so many different characters thrown together, a really interesting mix of people were there, including me 🙂 Some interesting dress styles presented themselves, but in the end our boredom and frustration and the need for comfortable housing united us. I wonder what happened in the end and where all these people went, in the end.

Then I forced myself to do some socialising, because it was in my area. We all met (strangers again) in a restaurant almost across from where I live because of this desire to be socially more active whilst also doing sports or learning new things or being cultural. There’s an organisation that organises events where complete strangers can meet (for whatever reason, mostly to socialise and do stuff together and not alone). For a modest fee and a 6 month contract basically one can avail of the many choices of events and strangers. 40 Euro per month is a little much for me, especially with this job thing not materialising and the search for a new place to stay. It also feels very forced and fake, and desperate. I’m not saying I’m 100% happy with being not only single but not knowing anyone in this town and having my closest family member living at least a 2 hour plane trip away, and having him not really care about me anyway, and that is almost the nicest of my siblings. Even with all this in mind, I still couldn’t force myself to tick the boxes of what events I would prefer and leave my bank details. I’m curious though if this sort of thing works (if one’s expectations are met) at such events and what sort of people turn up.

waiting for the fog to lift

One of the people at the restaurant gave me a good opportunity to out myself, he was a guy. He mentioned that there were all girls (women) at the meeting and his face was overcome with a glow, a shining that I only ever thught pregnant women and drug addicts to have (sorry, I am trying to be funny, but have a feeling I’m not so funny today). Anyway, I casually outed myself as a Neutrois, which was quite amusing. The look on the man’s face changed abruptly and he did not seem to be amused, as his exquisite comment was hijacked by a pint-sized gender gangster.

But the reception I got was something to remember. The women sitting opposite me started to ask, in the most friendly way I have ever encountered, but with a wry smile, if I didn’t event want to be male and wether I ‘liked’ men or women. The woman who started the conversation after I had mentioned Trans somewhere (she couldn’t see the star that usually accompanies this label) also casually mentioned that she had given herself a nickname, too, that was more gender neutral. The woman who managed the event, who was hostile to me for a while as I did not become a member, even warmed up to me and we chatted for a bit. This warm and casual reception at an event with strangers was really uplifting and gave me courage to actually take part in group activities: badminton, concerts, etc…

I still have the feeling that I will only see these people again if I sign up with the group and pay good money for my inclusion. But that is kind of to be expected. I’m also very tempted by it, but right now, I don’t want to spend money again when I can afford it the least (which I always seem to end up doing).

postscript 1: The mentioning of my queerness was not planned, it just happened to escape me. I guess the atmosphere was such that I let the words out, the need to express myself overcoming the fear of retaliation or ridicule (I can’tstand ridicule).

postscript 2: I wonder if the writing analyser I heard about would recognise that all these posts are from one and the same me. I wonder what gender I would be if I was baing analysed by a machine.

postscript 3: I still don’t know what people see me as, nowadays. I’m afraid it might still be female (I have some extremely hard-to-overcome female mannerisms that I’m also attached to). If I’m wearing a really open-cut shirt do people still assume I have breasts even if there’s nothing to see?

 

An article by the THE OXFORD STUDENT newspaper: ‘Sub fusc gender restrictions thrown out’

Here’s a link to an article by James Restall of The Oxford Student newspaper that was sent to me by my Mum this morning.

Initially I wanted to talk about the film I saw yesterday, but I don’t have the mental energy right now and don’t really want to start my mornings bitching about a third rate movie. Plus, I still have to go shop for a postcard and do other things, while constantly worrying about things I cannot get done and have no control over, so it’s going to be a busy day 🙂

Here’s the link to the article:

http://oxfordstudent.com/2012/07/28/sub-fusc-gender-restrictions-thrown-out/

A bit more about ‘sub fusc clothing’:

http://www.stx.ox.ac.uk/members/official/new_members/sub_fusc_clothing/

The brave new world of going beyond Part I: A short introduction to Transhumanism

I have often wondered what is wrong with me, why I keep feeling like the eternal outsider. Perhaps I have now found what I was looking for all along, a synthesis of ideas that match my feelings more closely than any other: Transhumanism.

Transhumanism is not new. Transhumanism is happening right now, in the minds and actions of people all over the world. Transhumanism also happened in the past. Transhumanism is past, present, and future, because it is us.

A bit about me and why I find transhumanism interesting

I grew up travelling the world, because my Mum worked overseas for about 2-3 years at a time, and then the whole family had to move around with her, wherever she went. Me and my brothers repeatedly changed countries, schools, friends, and were constantly bombarded with new sensations, different social settings, and human cultures. every school system presented its own challenges, new peer groups formed constantly around us and dissolved again, we were accustomed to airports and other forms of transport, as we left our home town to move abroad.

This has given us an immense opportunity to get to know different settings, landscapes, foods, scents, cultural impressions, political systems, and ways of life, but also imprinted in me a sense of strangeness, of not belonging anywhere, really. Maybe it is because I was not prepared for the great impressions I received from constantly travelling and never really coming to rest, maybe it was due to my character (which tends to be a bit cynical) that I didn’t fully appreciated being moved around a lot and never having my own, never-changing place to stay. I don’t know this for sure, but I can say that it affected my worldview, and maybe has made me more prone to bouts of anger about the human condition and lack of closeness with others, a strong dissociation. For I often saw and still see my surroundings through a detached lens, I am often the observer of others, but rarely the one who actively interacts. I am often the disinterested third wheel in a relationship and never the one initiating close contact. I am often more intested in old buildings and historical figures than real humans and the lived experience.

I think that is why I am also more into science-fiction-related-material than I was before. I often considered sci-fi to be close to lunacy and not very practical. But this view has changed, and I am increasingly more interested in (a) what it is/means to be human, and (b) how technology and ideas can be applied to ameliorate the human condition.

H+

I started googling transhumanism and came to wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transhumanism) to get an understanding about what it is (really) about, as it had only ever really existed as a vague idea in my head.

According to wikipedia, transhumanism is seen as “a continuation of humanism and Enlightenment thinking”. Transhumanist concepts tackle “the applications of advanced sciences to human biology” and a major focus of the movement is “the application of science to better the (individual) human condition, the improvement of human bodies…”. Transhumanists generally seek a control of human evolution and the use of new technologies to achieve that.

Another aspect of the movement is the critical stance towards biological determinism, and biology in general, as transhumanists tend to “see the very concept of the specifically ‘natural’ as problematically nebulous at best, and an obstacle to progess at worst”.

Transhumanism is a movement encompassing various thinkers and topics affecting the way humans live and the potential for human life in the future. It is geared towards a goal that is a sort of utopia, a reference point for the future: posthumanism.

Posthumanism is something to strive towards, as this quote exemplifies: ” They [transhumanist thinkers] predict that human beings may eventually be able to transform themselves into beings with such greatly expanded abilities as to merit the label ‘posthuman’.

the Vitruvian genderqueer

Cognitive liberty, morphological freedom, procreative liberty

I personally cannot conceive of a time where transhumanist ideas were not in vogue or under scrutiny from various political parties and segments of society, and I used to be an Archaeology student. I think in humans there is a great motivation to strive to better things, to affect one’s environment, to change and adapt, to create and experiment, and to initiate ‘progress’.

A lot of humans want to gain knowledge about their environemnt (nature), their selves (human body and mind), and their abilities (boundaries and powers to transform). We wouldn’t have cars and tall buildings and complex social interactions if it weren’t for this desire to strive for progress.

Also, I think there’s still a great need for humans to “become more than human”, to exceed our limited potential and be the creatures that we envisage to be, but whose abilities we do not yet own. We look towards something greater than us to strive for, just like a child watches a sibling and tries to be as good at sports as them. There’s a competitive element there, perhaps a need to show off, to leave one’s mark, to create something new and exciting.

Transhumanism has to do with redefining humans and what life in the future could be like. It involves a lot of theorizing, but also has very practical applications. Eventhough this type of philosphy is called transhuman and even confronts us with menacing words such as ‘posthumanism’, it is not removed from humanity, humanism, and the human, because it is produced by humans, shaped and criticised by humans, and its efforts are to increase the quality of human life. It is no anti-human philosophy. Humans are at its centre, its focus is on making life better for individuals around the world.

I think individual choice is a major concern for transhumanist thinkers, and that’s another reason why this movement has become attractive for me. I don’t agree with every aspect of it, nor do I fully understand what it entails. I’m not really scientifically-minded, and have trouble understanding scientific concepts and mechanisms, but I like creative thinking and the expansion of thought. I wonder where it can lead and what it means for us common folk.

the universal brain

In the next post i would like to highlight some of the concepts of transhumanist thinkers, some more practical applications, and include some more personal commentary.

Dominic vs. God

Trigger Warning: Scars

This is to present my chest and what my idea of a Neutrois chest is. It’s also meant to show that when I talk about me being trans, I mean trans*, when I talk about me being queer, I mean genderqueer, when I talk about being neutral, I mean gender-neutral.

The body is a surface on which we project our emotions and ideas. People get tattoos and piercings ( I myself am a fan of tattoos, not so much piercings), and with the addition of clothing, we are able to communicate and protect our bodies from the weather and ‘immodesty’.

Our bodies are honest, in that they portray our phusical structure. Sometimes we can determine through the way the body lools or moves that a person is ill or has an injury. We can determine, through facial queues, if a person is happy or sad.

But we cannot always know what a person is like, inside of this vessel, without getting to know them firts. It takes time and energy to do so, and often we do not have either or have preceonceived ideas about the person which prevent us from going near them in the first place.

I am trying to make my body more honest by changing it to make it represent more fully and inclusively my ideals and how I picture myself. I have used the power of plastic surgery to modify and edit structures on my body that were giving me unease and failed to represent me and my ideals.

This ‘new’ body feels more natural, eventhough I haven’t had it long, it feels safer, eventhough people might look at me in a more negative light because of it. It feels like it belongs to me more now than it ever did.

Some say if the body is a vessel, and the person really shines through through the soul, therefore one does not need to focus so much on it. But my soul cann’t come through in a body I detest. When I had/have dysphoria I get really depressed and have strong anxiety attacks and even think about death and dying. Surgery has made my life better. I’m not saying it’s the only answer to one’s problems, but it’s not morally wrong and shouldn’t be ignored as an option.

This is my personal surgery result. I am curious to know how others would react if they saw my chest like this. I am happy with it, because it feels good and it simplifies my life (eg. not having to wear disgusting female underwear bra stuff, walking around shirtless [at least in my own four walls], and feeling lighter and healthier)….dysphoria of the chest (my previous chest structure) was making me ill, because I felt sick with it, I felt diseased and wrong, as if a foreign and malign object was put there to torment me. My chest felt like ‘a cancerous being’, so I had to remove it (everything).

To me, someone WITH a chest is incomplete….

The following Images: 1. My Lovely Chest TM, 2. Dominic: un point, God, Nature, the-not-me: 0 points, 3. Neutrois kitsch: My Lovely Chest Smiley

 

 

*IMAGESIMAGESIMAGESIMAGESIMAGESIMAGESIMAGESIMAGESIMAGESIMAGESIMAGESIMAGESIMAGESIMAGESIMAGESIMAGES*

My Lovely Chest ™

Dominic: un point, God: 0 points

Neutrois kitsch: My Lovely Chest ☺

 

Work: A Sort of Conclusion

Tomorrow will presumable be the last day at this workplace I have been at for about a month now.

In the beginning I was frequently pissed off at some of the responses I got from co-workers about my gender identity and their doubts associated with my identity, my beliefs.

But I’ve gotten used to them, their voices and mannerisms and I am more inclined to understand their attitudes.

They still question me when it comes to the gender binary, as they are so entrenched in this system, that they see no other. In addition, I doubt that they are interested in seeing another way of being, because the current social world suits them quite well. They are able to live comfortably in this world and even to profit from social rules and constructs. They are cis and happy with their lot.

I will miss the discussions we had, when emotions flared up and time went much faster than when it was quiet and everyone was serious. I will miss being able to explain myself and having someone listen and confront their own ideas. I will miss being in a group, and yet not belonging there, being able to mix with both men and women and sometimes being alone, being somewhat outside the rules.

We do tend to get along at work, after all, though it’s a strange relationship between all these different people from different age groups, countries, and backgrounds. Partly we work well together, because we have to, and partly because we all (as far as I can tell) are curious to know about other people and to learn about new things.

I am happy that I have been able to meet these people and talk about my ideas and feelings, to have an outlet for my emotions and philosophies. I hope in the new job (if I get it; it’s not 100% certain) I will be lucky and meet people who are, at heart, good people, who have good intentions and don’t only argue for the sake of it, who aren’t just shallow drones of the capitalist economy, who are capable of thinking for themselves.

Eventhough once again I was asked which gender I would ultimately choose, and I politely had to decline the choice of any gender, I am happy that this and other questions were asked. It’s like as if I was the colour orange and came into a world where only red and blue existed: Both red and blue would ask me which colour I am, as they could only see the colours red and blue. They couldn’t see my orange colour, my identity would be hidden to their naked eyes. I would have to keep responding that I am orange, eventhough they might still not understand this, because orange would not exist in their world.

As long as I don’t start to forget who I am, I will still have a certain amount of tranquility and freedom of being, of satisfaction.

The GenderQueer Atheist on YouTube

http://www.youtube.com/user/GenderQueerAtheists?feature=watch

 

Ten Things You CAN Say to a Trans Person (Reblogged from TRANIFESTO)

May I make a short introduction to what is to follow here:

I have reblogged the following post from Matt Kailey’s blog TRANIFESTO, which I hope all of you are following, or have at least visited often. I hope that this blog post did not come across as mine, because that is not the case. I realise now that I should have made this more obvious and honoured the person to whom this blo post belongs. I apologise to Matt for the inappropriate re-blogging and hope that I won’t make that mistake again.

I would like to also now add his website (link): http://tranifesto.com/

I get a lot of information from Matt’s blog and visit it regularly and am a bit embarrassed that I have not quoted his post properly. I don’t want any credit for posting this, the reason why I am posting this is because I like his post and want to share it.

Let’s see if I can do better now!

This is the post by Matt Kailey which can be found on his blog (see link, please).

“One of the most popular items on my blog is “Ten Things Not to Say to a Trans Person.” But I’m sure that non-trans people get tired of hearing what they can’t say. So, in the spirit of helpfulness, I present “Ten Things You CAN Say to a Trans Person”:

1. Good morning!

2. How was your weekend?

3. That outfit/shirt/tie looks great on you.

4. I am so tired of this heat/cold. I hope it rains/warms up pretty soon.

5. Have you seen the latest photo of my kid/dog/new house? Check it out!

6. Where are you from originally? Have you lived in this city long?

7. The traffic on the freeway is a nightmare today! Do you have to drive far to get here?

8. We’re all going across the street for lunch. Want to come?

9. I can’t believe summer/winter is almost over. Where does the time go?

10. Did you see that YouTube video about the snake that ate three baby goats?

Of course, you can adjust these to fit your purposes. And if you are close to this person, your conversations will obviously stray into less superficial aspects of life, such as art, politics, current events, their love life, your love life, Kim Kardashian’s love life, and so on. But use these as a guideline and you will never get yourself in hot water.”

[http://tranifesto.com/2012/07/16/ten-things-you-can-say-to-a-trans-person/]

__________________________________________________________________

 

This is what I thought when I read the post:

I’m sure there are many more things one can ask/say to a trans person without intruding on personal space or making that person feel uncomfortable.

And not only Trans people enjoy some private space. We all have personal boundaries. Usually it’s only when our needs are not met or boundaries happen to be crossed (trespassed on) that we realise how important they are. These boundaries often cannot be seen and that is why often they are not respected. For some (other) reason, too, trans peoples’ boundaries seem to be less important than other peoples’, as if every trans person was a celebrity and needed to explain themselves.

Even in the zoo, the animals are kept at a distance from visitors. A trans person does not have a physical structure in place to protect him/her/it/… from prying minds.

We should keep in mind that when talking to a person, we are talking to an individual with …/it’s/her his personal history, likes/dislikes, personality, family structure, friends, hobbies. A trans person has as much substance and real-ness as any other person. One might not understand or support their idetifying as trans or their transition plans (if transition is indeed planned), but one can at least respect shared humanity/human-ness.

We all strive to be safe in our environment, to be individuals and yet to live as part of a social construct (a group of individuals). Some are more individual and freedom-loving than others and might clash with their surroundings due to their foreign-ness.

Should we ostracise some people, who could be valuable to society and contribute positivity to our environment (physical, spiritual, economic, social) because of their personal preferences regarding gender/sexuality/hobbies/ethnicity/ability/…?

What will be the next standard to highlight ‘Otherness’ and create an ‘Us’ and a ‘Them’? Who will be the next victimized group of social conditioning?

A surprising discovery

Today I had some maintenance done: the Depo injection.

I really did not feel like going to the dr’s today, but felt I had to, and I wouldn’t probably feel any better about later on, so I went.

The minute I saw the head nurse I wished I hadn’t gone; she had those piercing, intrusive sort of eyes that just manage to just look through you and reduce you to a pile of mumbling and fumbling.

I was so nervous, as if I had a job interview or was questioned at court.

I just wanted to get the injection quickly and then get out. I’m desperate for the Depo, because it deletes my period. In fact, I haven’t had one for at least 2 years and I just love the feeling of not having those menstrual feelings.

But then the nurses talked about tests and started to disturb me with their moral feelings. They actually wanted to me to get my body tests (like normal women) and wanted me to see the doctor (which I had never seen before, though I am a patient there). I already thought about just running out of the room, and started to devise a plan to never get asked to surrender my body to medical scrutiny again. After all, it’s not necessary to have one’s genitals poked and prodded if one is convinced one has none.

So we struck a bargain. The nurse asked Sir dr. if I could get the injection (just because) and I had to admit there was soemthing wrong with me and I needed help and a talk with him, who would be able to point me in the right direction. The nurse apparently felt my pain of being transgender, but still thought I needed to transition into one or the other gender. I determined in the waiting room, waiting like a convicted felon on death row, that I would attempt one last rebellion in front of this representative of the medical community: I would deny being ill or wrong in any way, and I would refuse straight out to transition to a gender known to man.

For, how does one transition to a gender that does not even exist? HOw does one transition to not having a gender?

I explained this to him, after a long and embarassing silence. I really did not feel like talking, because I thought it would be the same old Spiel. I had already encountered numerous dr’s before, and they were all of them unwilling to understand or to even hear me out when I talked about MY gender.

But to my surprise, when I said I knew how damned my lot in life was, because I knew of the impossibility of transitioning to neutral, it was him, not me, who protested. He wasn’t my enemy, after all, this little, common-looking man who wore glasses and complained about the renovation that was going on in the building. He looked so stern at first, so uninviting, so plain.

He told me that I might have a chance to keep on transitioning, to not stop here, but follow the process as far as it could possibly go. He even mentioned more surgery, but without hormones (exactly what i had been thinking of). Then he kindly directed me to a clinic that usually dealt with people such as me, perhaps extreme cases of GID or just extreme gender non-conformists. I haven’t heard of anyone actually doing what I plan on doing, though. I haven’t heard of another Neutral person who has transitiones to their preferred gender. Has anyone else?

So, today I called the clinic, and of course, I couldn’t get a hold of the person I had to contact…The revolution got stalled right then and there, and I suspect that there will be a lot more beaurocracy to go through before I can achieve my goals. And a lot more thought, and a lot more courage and confidence.

I never would have thought that, out of the blue, without looking for it, I would have come closer than I ever have before to my goals re: gender transitioning. I only had top surgery two weeks ago and now I am catapulted into the world of psychological specialists, medical professionals, and it’s getting more serious.

I just hope this wasn’t some sort of trick or ruse on his part to get me to communicate and to see someone who could then transform me into something more pleasant, like a man (a man with no human breast, and weird stuff downstairs, perhaps). I hope they don’t try to dope me with hormones and start telling me who I am.

I am not fully convinced yet that I have cracked the jackpot, but my hope for a better future in the world of gender (a better feeling, and less body dysphoria) has risen again. I so hope this isn’t just another fraud!! Wish me luck!

 

“If an 8-year-old girl has a really hard time in school because of her short hair and boyish clothes, and is bullied for that, that’s not her pathology—it’s the world’s.”

This is an interesting and, to me, uplifting article about transgender (children), because it introduces parents who want the best for their children, no matter how hard it is to achieve that. I often wonder what would’ve happened to my life if I or someone else with influence had realized I was trans. I wonder if I actually would have been considered trans, as I was acting more like a boy when I was young, but would that have made me trans enough?

Eventhough I had surgery (a major operation) I still sometimes wonder if I should be considered trans. I’m just usually a weird, in-between, sort of person, that doesn’t seem to fit well in any group….maybe it’s time to create my own….

Or maybe I should just get over this whole trans (*) thing, since I had my operation and I should just be happy now. I’ve done the almost impossible and have had a gender edit without the need to see a psychologist or take hormones.

But I’m not so happy and I’m still interested in trans stuff. Gender still affects me, and thus I will continue to think about it. I can’t just seem just to accept that it is (so simple) and tied directly to biology. Having parts of my (‘gender I.D.’) removed surgically, I sort of have a different perspective on this. Also, I don’t think I was ever cis-gendered, but can’t really think of strong evidence for transgenderism, either.

Anyway, this post was only meant to introduce the article

‘S/He: Parents of transgender children are faced with a difficult decision, and it’s one they have to make sooner then they ever imagined.’

which can be found here: http://nymag.com/news/features/transgender-children-2012-6/