A short thing about transgenderism from the futuristic point of view.
Gender - it’s one of those topics that almost everyone gets riled about.
An endless stream of data is pumped through more and less known regions of the internet fueling information wars around this theme. Pretty much all of the participants have entrenched themselves in their original opinions, yet every day another conflict sparks in the hope of swaying someone from the opposite side.
Well, what are you gonna do? - someone might say. It’s an important discussion and we cannot proceed until we finally figure this one out. The state of the future society depends on it!
Does it though? It seems to me, that most of the real social issues that humanity found crucial, the ones that countless zealous martyrs spent their lives fighting against, were in the end resolved by technical advancement. Slavery? Racism? Gender inequality?
Sure, the movements that fought for the causes were a factor, but it looks like the changes happened only when the tools were build to support the skeleton of the ideology. Even if those tools were the weapons produced in World War 2. I cannot imagine reduction of slavery without automation, no racism without modern means of transportation, that allowed for people to intermingle, and no gender inequality without war shortages in the work force.
For whatever reason, we constantly try to tackle issues just slightly out of reach. Some of those efforts turn out to be completely misguided - like the millennial bug.
Maybe we should not try to force things and just go with the flow, just wait for the right circumstances? Ok, but will those even arise? How do we know that we aren’t just simply ignoring something that is hard but needs to be addressed? What is the right context in which the question about transgenderism is irrelevant?
Fortunately, we do not have to think too much about this. There was already someone who has threaded those paths before us.
Did you ever had the opportunity to read “The Twenty-first Voyage” from “The Star Diaries” by S. Lem? At the first glance it’s just another children story, but only a fool would discount this particular work of fiction without a closer look. I will scratch just the surface here. Go and read it.
In the story a space pilot travels to a remote planet and meets a group of robot-monks. He learns that the native inhabitants of this place are biological creatures, but they no longer poses their original form. That particular civilization has thrived for a very long period of time. They made many great scientific discoveries and finally they stumbled upon something that caused a complete collapse - the power to modify their own genome.
In a short period of time an age of DNA-decadence has dawned upon the citizens. Intelligence folded on itself and crumbled.
At first the changes that they made to themselves were mostly of utilitarian nature. They cured all inborn diseases, raised the comfort of life for an average person. Then they proceeded to make small improvements. Those started to be gradually bigger. At one point people started to experiment with cosmetics, to become famous and more original. Modification became a form of art. Once a new fancy change spread across the populace it was quickly accepted as the norm and deemed boring. New colors, additional limbs, metabolic schemes, everything started to immediately become stale. Focused on constant evolution people of this planet started to lose track of who they are and the ability to form a society. Nihilism and decadence ruled supreme. To recover they started to experiment with politics and dogma. In the end all their efforts produced even more horrifying effects.
Ok, the story is interesting and possibly has some insightful moments, but why am I talking about this? What is the relation to previous topic?
It’s quite simple actually. I dare to say, that transgenderism is just the first step on a path that our species must walk. If we continue to put emphasis on individual freedom and the technology is safe enough, then we cannot prohibit people with doing whatever they want with their genome. As soon as the science is in place, the question about transgenderism is moot, because people will go much further than only to change their sex. Heck, at this point we can probably say that gender as a concept is not a thing anymore.
What will be the important issue at that time? Any forecasts after a singularity event are not a smart thing to do, but let me place my bet. I would gamble, that the most crucial question would be “what does it mean to be human?”, followed by “what does it mean to be alive?”. Funny thing is, we can probably have as much capacity to answer those now, as we will in the future. Questions about transgenderism in adult people just do not make sense. Those are artificial problems, that will naturally get resolved with time. What we should focus, and we can do that any time we want, are the issues with corrosion of personal freedom in modern culture.
Let me just add, that I think the topic of transgendersim in children is a set of completely different issues and I will tackle this in the future.
Ok, it’s all well and pretty - my imaginary nemesis might say - but it’s all just a rhetorical trick. We are not even close to reaching the capability of mainstream DNA modification, right? Well, yes and no. It depends what do you mean by close. Once again I’m forced to use the 4-order-of-magnitude scale:
Will this happen in 10 years? Definitely not.
In 100 years? Possibly.
In 1000? Pretty sure it will be as easy as ordering stuff online.
10000 years? The concept of being a conscious being in our current understanding will be laughable.
In summary, it seems to me that we created this “problem” of what’s OK and what’s a no-no only because we’ve chosen a very short time perspective to think about it.
To be fair, I have no proof that things will resolve themselves in the end. Probably some amount of suffering can be spared by playing with ideologies and activism on both sides. That may be.
There is peculiar sort of negotiation technique, which is called “the high ground”. It’s basically a call for abandoning some current contention point and unification for a more important fight. I’m trying hard to avoid doing just that, hence the disclosure of the technique, but it seems to me, that we have some more important things happening right now. We spend a lot of time and effort quarreling about a thing, that just diverts the question about freedom to a very specific point. The irony of it is, that both sides of the conflict have given up the idea of freedom just to hold this “discussion”. It’s a fight about a time-local issue that makes us lose the war for something timeless.
Please give yourself and others the freedom we all deserve, not the “freedom” to bend to your view or perish.