Question: What does someone that identies as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, transsexual or queer-fluid…have in common with someone who is transhuman?
Answer: These are terms that people use to define themselves regarding their own sex, gender, body.
(Cross-posted at sexgenderbody)
if people won’t support civil rights for LGBT people, what makes you think they will support our right to modify our bodies with technology? LGBT civil rights are completely worth advocating on their own terms, but a world that accepts a diversity of sexual orientations will also be more open-minded about other forms of diversity, and that is not only helpful, but moral.
Gays, lesbians and bisexuals are also natural allies of transhumanism since the right to control one’s own body means being able to share it with other consenting adults. The champions of natural law attack homosexuality and human enhancement with the same arguments. In-vitro fertilization allows lesbians to have children without having sex with a man. Work on fertilizing eggs with the DNA from another egg or replacing egg DNA with sperm DNA would allow gay parents to both have a genetic link to their children.
The experiences and lessons learned from other social movements – the race, LGBT, feminist and other movements – may be useful here. For example, some of the commonsense values listed and many more have been reevaluated by past movements.
In traditional conversations and prejudices, the matter of what gender someone chooses to identify as, or whom they sleep with have nothing to do with someone extending the function of the human body with technology. Yet, they are all personal decisions by individuals for how they choose to define their own sex, gender, body.
Whose choice is it, if a person…
– chooses to identify as one gender or another?
– chooses to have consensual sex with another adult(s) of one gender or another?
– chooses to replace one’s own body parts with technology that improves or alters the human body?
Is it society’s choice or the individual? Who has dominion over your sex, gender, body?
In most societies, up until this point in history, there are two levels of self-identity:
– The definition of ‘The Individual’ as given by society.
“The Individual” as a term itself, is a component of the larger society. It is a comparative term, defined by its relationship to the group.
Society defines who individuals are allowed to be, in order for society to accept them. These terms are given to the individual. In the US Constitution and Bill of Rights, The Individual exists as defined by the rights. The document tells individuals under what terms the individual will be respected by the legal society of this country – our government.
There are other societal definitions. Religious institutions dictate terms of identity that are acceptable for inclusion in their worship circles. Families, towns, schools, neighborhoods and even the structures of language itself all have terms that define individuals.
No matter which group of people – which society we examine, the structure is the same. Terms exist that define who a person can be and cannot be – for that society to accept that individual.
– The definition of ‘Self’ as given by the individual.
“The Self” is something that exists on its own. It is not part of a group, by definition, but it can freely join groups for group identities.
This is the definition that we know ourselves as. It can be shared, spoken or never uttered. When we think of ourselves privately, this is how we define ourselves. It is who I hold myself to be, for my reasons. It is who you hold yourself to be, for your reasons.
What we are seeing now, is a push for society to accept the definition of one’s self in the terms issued by the individual. People are fighting with society to be accepted as who they define themselves to be. This is happening in known groups: LGBTQ, Seniors, Transhumans and more. But, these groups are merely rally points. The idea of a new group helping to legitimize the definition of each Self, is counterproductive. No new sub-group that is accepted by the larger society has any more say over any one person’s Self identity. The smaller groups are most effective as rally points, to amplify the message from the individuals:
I define my sex, gender, body. You define yours.
There is one group – people with disabilities, who have been struggling to make this statement for centuries. As we become older, each of us will enter this group. Our bodies will fail and we will seek to be known as who we define ourselves to be. Do not turn a blind eye to this question of who shall choose the definition of your Self. Do not ‘go along with the crowd’ of insensitivity and mob bullying – and that is what it is.
Feminism, Civil Rights, Freedom of Speech, Gay Rights, Anti-Slavery: each of these struggles contains a component of this very issue. Like these struggles, the struggle for The Self is steeped in politics, economics, language and the wresting of power from the status quo. Cynically, I believe that when Transhumanism becomes desired by men in power, they will want to have their insurance pay for the procedures. They will find it very hard to make health insurance cover the costs of transhuman body modification while still denying transsexual operations.
The question of who choses the terms of your identity, my identity – everyone’s identity, is not a new one. What will be new, is when societies embrace people in the terms we choose to define ourselves. I will modify something I frequently say regarding women’s rights, to sum this up.
I do not need people to tell me who I am. I need them to stop taking that choice from me.