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Cybernetics Will Alter Our Understanding Of Transgender Rights

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FUTURISTIC PROSTHETIC
Vladyslav Otsiatsia via Getty Images
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Depending on the optimism of the futurist you're asking, within 25 to 40 years we're going to hit the singularity.

This magical point in technological progress is where virtually anything will be within our reach as a species. Space travel, free and green energy, you name it. One of the tentpoles of this Utopian ideal is cybernetics and bionics, the burgeoning field of replacing biological systems with mechanical ones.

Already we can see massive strides in this technology. Amputees who would have had extremely primitive prosthetics 20 years ago now can be equipped with legs capable of running and jumping. The blind can be fitted with bionic eyes, and nearsighted people with implants which let them see better than unaugmented humans. Even artificial organs like pacemakers were a step in this direction, and those are commonplace.

The penultimate upgrade for humanity would be a perfect synthesis of human and machine -- superior to an entirely biological human, but possessing the same mind in this new hybridized frame.

So what does this have to do with transgender people?

In this cybernetic scenario, if a person has their entire body replaced with machine parts to the point where they are nothing but a brain in a mechanical shell -- are they still human? If the answer is yes, then a line has been drawn. A woman who, after a severe accident which requires her to be converted into a cyborg with virtually no biological components, is still a woman. She is still a she.

What's the difference between that and a woman who is born with the body of a man? What if, after her accident, she chooses an artificial body with a penis? Is that any different? Does it change who she is underneath the plastic and the carbon nanotubes?

Transgender and non-binary people have had, to put it lightly, a difficult past -- and present, for that matter. But it's fair to say that the major issue to overcome is good old-fashioned ignorance. Historically, it has been difficult for many people to conceptualize a person who has the sex organs associated with one gender identifying as another. In a day and age where people had no options as to the modification of their bodies, this was relatively cut and dry. With our advances in reassignment surgery and general awareness, it isn't so any longer.

But time marches on, and the future -- assuming we don't wipe ourselves from the face of the Earth in a Trumped-up slide into the narcissistic collapse of civilization as we know it -- will burn away our ignorance one advance at a time.

If our understanding of humanity could be so fundamentally altered so as to say that a person with no sex organs and no hormones can be considered the same gender as a fully biological person, then it would be a huge shift in how we view ourselves. Imagine a future where you could modify your body as easily as you change your clothes. And despite what they say, clothes don't make the man.

Of course, even in the brightest and most solar-powered future, people will still be people. Conquering this hurdle if and when the singularity occurs, it's not a long shot to say that we'll find all new reasons to hate each other and divide ourselves. After all, we're only human.

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