Transhuman Simultaneous Hermaphroditism: why it is a goal for some, and how it might eventually work
Posted: Sun, January 06, 2013 | By: Terra Bosart
Why it is a goal for some
In the scientific field of biology, a hermaphrodite is an organism that has the reproductive qualities associated with both the male and female sexes. This is, under so called “normal” circumstances, associated with certain invertebrate taxonomies of life. Which, in conventional terms, is often associated with a “lower” life form. However, this implies a certain sense of hierarchy, where it is unnecessary.
While it seems to be the general case of the matter, or even the most prevalent, this needn’t necessarily hold absolute that this is the only way of being, or even a preferred state of being.
Hierarchy is a human construct which we hold onto, it seems, simply because it the most convenient way to classify the world around us. It’s a notation of discernment between aspects of a type of binary existence. Such discernment, over time, results in various forms of outright bigotry where education might be lacking.
In a recent Terasem Foundation survey of Transhumanism, it was found that given a choice, 12.5 percent of participants would choose their next body to be hermaphroditic. Due to the controversial nature of the question, I would suspect that the number is actually a significant percentage higher, but more than 1 out of 10 is noteworthy and worth some serious consideration. At the very least, I suspect the number would be higher if the subject were explored in greater detail, and the hypothetical process of achieving such a goal were available.
Something that is so distant to conventional notions of cultural acceptability, that it is questioned, should not be the basis of ultimately subjective notions of acceptability. However, nature and human mythology shows us that this is an acceptable, or even occasionally glorified state of being. In terms of historical storytelling, the hermaphrodite holds a very respected position in many traditions. In Greek mythology, where the term “hermaphrodite” gains its notoriety, the male child of Hermes and Aphrodite fused his physical properties with a nymph, becoming a being composed of the physical traits usually assigned or prescribed to the two sexes. While there are differentiations in the tale, which say that Hermaphroditus was simply born as a balance between the sexes, though the end result holds the same importance.
Greek mythology is not alone in this, as similar tales of resolving duality in sexes can be found in ancient Egypt, some Native tribes, and even edited out of the Bible - Jesus Christ had a few things to say about male and female becoming one being, in the gospel of Thomas:
“Jesus said to them, When you make the two one, and when you make the inside like the outside, and the outside like the inside, and the above like the below, and when you make the female one and the same, so that the male be not male, nor the female female… then you will enter (the kingdom.)”
The “outside like the inside” portion is spoken of, in modern terms, of people in transgendered circles. The need to balance the inner notions of self, with the outer appearance of self, is a theme often associated with modern transgendered therapy. On a personal note, the need to forge a balance between genders can be preferable to migrating into the opposite category. The idea being that a balance between sexes might be a preferable state of existence.
Naturally occurring hermaphroditic qualities in humans is now referred to as being Intersexed, to alleviate and avoid the negative impact of those who would use the former term as a slur, while giving a voice and community to the Intersexed population. The term hermaphrodite as a descriptor of Intersexed characteristics, has become a relic from a less-caring age. Though the concept is the same, across many mythologies, the questions remains. Is it possible for a functional variation of humans that will blur the lines between gender? If it is possible, do we have an obligation to make it reality for those inclined to make such a personal change?
The stories we gravitate toward in our formative years can have a significant influence upon our personal sense of identity. In American culture we are saturated in these stories as we near daily submit ourselves to the media content of other interpretations of classic tales. These stories make up parts of the programming of our brains, and influence our thoughts and decisions. Over time, as we learn to explore the content of our brains, we can find that our sense of self doesn’t always match our exterior body.
Though ancient story tellings hold the intersexed in a higher standing as an ideal of many possibilities, and classifications of biological science tend to hold it in lower evolutionary standing or a hormonal defect, I would say simply that it appears to be on the horizon as a potential. Whether this would be more of a gradual change that will allow for three genders to exist side by side, or that the two gender system will eventually be considered obsolete, depends upon far too many unknowns. If we are to find out, it might behoove us to consider the implications of such a change, before it becomes reality.
As our processing technology increases, we are beginning to see a fusion of usually separated systems. The world forum of the internet has become the ultimate melting pot of human ideas and experience. Every aspect of social, cultural, and creative pursuits is available for perusal. This information sharing powerhouse which we use daily is based upon the ones and zeroes of absolute dualism, either on or off.
In the emerging field of quantum computing, however, certain parts can be on and off at the same time. This state of being while not being might be somewhat detrimental to those who rely too heavily upon the extreme binary systems of a given environment. Being influenced by the tools we use, in subtle ways, can change the conditions of our lives. If our computers can use ones and zeroes interchangeably, the excuse of thinking in absolutes becomes a dangerously obsolete convenience.
The domestic issues of our times have also gone through a metamorphosis, as we begin to recognize and slowly reject the dualities in our lives, through increasing awareness of the illusion of false choices. Dissatisfaction with a two party political system, the Coke and Pepsi battles, you can have either this or that. Without third options, the foreign and domestic issues of our times take on more polarizing qualities.
Nowhere has this been more prevalent than with the first division, of the sexes. The past hundred years of social inequalities have begun to evaporate in various places, and equal civil liberties are near the front of the list for the politically active. What was once a discussion of Mars versus Venus, has come to focus on the in-between of Earth.
In my own life, I’ve felt the pull from the extremities of the gender issues over my few decades of existence. I can attest to my own desire to cease being pulled in one direction or the other, by individual people or societal notions of acceptability, that I might simply exist in between the polarizing forces of gender. The dualities of the human condition can breed their own forms of dogmatic behavior, further compartmentalizing individuals into one of two boxes, for the convenience of those with less vision.
I’ve long felt that if one must be identified by a category, there should be more than two options available, to mitigate the tendency for polarized thinking. There is more diversity on the planet now than before, so it comes down to personal identifications, and asking oneself the hard questions needed to understand where the symbols in life point one toward. The period of time in which we live is filled with massive changes, and finding one’s way has never before been this complex of an issue.
A lot of our symbolism begins to point toward the middle grounds, the between of extremes. It makes an Intersexed population seem like an eventual likelihood, but symbolism alone didn’t push our species towards altering the manner in which we live. It took suffering, and a lot of work toward dreams, before a sitting vice-president - Joe Biden - was ever heard to say that being transgendered was, “the civil rights issue of our time” in November of 2012. It’s not too far of a stretch to speculate that transhuman hermaphroditism may be the next of several civil rights issues.
How it might work
For the sake of example, I refer to the Terasem Foundations’ theoretical approach of transferring consciousness into a prepared “empty” body. While they have yet to develop a finalize technique for doing so, it might be considered more ethical to start with a more mechanical body frame, as was the case in the 2009 film Surrogates. I’ll be examining a potential process surrounding the construction of a biological body. (Surrogates video below:)
The best method I feel would be growing a body from scratch, using the patient’s own stem cells as a base, instructing the growth and division of the undifferentiated cells from the very beginning. I imagine the quickest method would be the development of a biological 3D printer using pre-programmed stem cells, though this may not be necessarily the best method. For the sake of details in my example, I will presume a body grown in a vat.
Inhibiting the brains function and the development of a conscious thinking mind via chemical brain preservation, the brains physical development could keep pace with the growth of the body while no conscious knowledge of self would be mentally born. All perceptual stimuli would have to be effectively muted in the new growing body, leaving an empty brain for the consciousness of a person to move into. To be ethical in this process, no other biological option would be acceptable. This process could be reminiscent of the scene in the movie, The 5th Element, when Milla Jovovitch’s character is first introduced. (video below:)
The hormone balance for maintaining the functionality of both pairs of reproductive organs might be tricky. Humans already have both hormones in various levels, maintaining an approximate equilibrium under normal circumstances, causing a person to appear more male or female and allowing the respective sexes abilities.
The hormone levels should be allowed to increase and decrease, exchanging percentages to allow for alternating the functioning genitalia at timed intervals. A kind of hormonal balancing act, to maintain a perpetual androgyny, and the abilities of both sexes. This would mean the potential to be pregnant as well as the ability to cause pregnancy in others. The goal should be two sets of separate, yet fully functioning genitalia, in the final intersexed body.
In this way, the peak of potential erections for the male genitalia could mirror the menstration of the female genitalia on a two week cycle. A side effect of this could be that the window of opportunity for the intersexed individual to achieve pregnancy could be shortened, or delayed to small windows between hormonal shifts.
It should be noted that I am not a biologist, and that this is a subjective extrapolation from my rudimentary understanding of the biological factors at play, some of which has been gleaned from my studies of the modern transgendered path. Assuming this becomes possible in the next decade or so, what I’ve described above could be simply considered to be a ‘standard’ procedure.
The hormone levels and other preferences, be they chemical or aesthetic, would likely be programmable to personal customization requirements. Such an example would mark a milestone in the application of human creativity and stem-cell science toward the ever elusive subjectively idealized version of a individual physical self.
We’ve come so far, and changed so much for the betterment of human kind, and there is no reason to presume that we will not continue to do so.
A transhuman simultaneous hermaphrodite is only one potential betterment to consider, for those who are inclined to choose such a life path. Timothy Leary famously said that we should “find the others”, and in Transhumanism we have found the others who wish to augment the human condition toward a more personally relevant nature. A melting pot of the imagined, where we have found room for our diversities.
On gender trends:
On hermaphrodites and the intersexed:
On 3D bio-printers:
On surrogate bodies:
On chemical brain preservation: