Over the weekend I spotted an interesting article on a philosophy blog. In “Queering the Human: Is the Transhuman already here?” BP Morton argues that trans people, especially if medically modified in some way, can be defined as transhuman. Morton’s argument also touches on the cyborg nature of people with medical implants, and on groups such as Otherkin who openly reject human identity. A major inspiration for the article was the work of my philosopher friend, David Roden.
It is an interesting question, and one that is very much tied up with politics. As I explained to BP and David on Facebook, the struggle for trans rights is currently framed very much as one of human rights. Trans people spend a lot of time being treated as if we are sub-human; as if we don’t deserve the same rights that are accorded to supposedly “normal” people. Because of this, it is politically important for trans people to be seen as human. However, the philosophical argument is very different. From a science fiction point of view, it is obvious that the concept of “human rights” won’t survive contact with intelligent aliens. Furthermore, we don’t seem to be that far away from a point where we start granting rights to other Earth species on the grounds that they too are intelligent.
I note also that these issues are addressed in Pat Cadigan’s wonderful Hugo-winning novelette, “The Girl Thing Who Went Out For Sushi”.
Convention panel, anyone? It is a bit late for this year’s BristolCon, but maybe we can lure David along next year.