Facebook has recently broken new ground in the discussion of gender. The bold step has been taken to greatly expand the number of gender selections available to its users. You and I are no longer limited to the very stilted “male” and “female” that has plagued us for so many millennia. Soon such options as androgynous, bi-gender, intersex, gender fluid or transsexual will be available to all who wish to take advantage of it.
This is quite forward thinking for Facebook and is not just good cultural relevance, it’s good business. As our culture becomes more sensitive to gender it will be an asset to the dubiously gendered to not be chained to such labels in social media. With all of this progress, I think you will be surprised how I feel about it.
They didn’t go far enough.
You see, breaking the shackles of gender identity took courage, but it was really a feint to avoid the much deeper and harder discussion boiling under the surface. Sure this allows them to pacify those who don’t like the old labels, but what they are really doing is avoiding those of us who don’t just want to free of our gender labels.
That’s right, they are avoiding the discussion of species labels.
In a clever marketing gimmick, Facebook isn’t addressing those of us who don’t want to be stuck with the label of “human being”. It is a bit silly for the Amoeba-Americans among us to discuss gender at all.
Imagine my frustration as I log into Facebook one day and I see that I have all the gender options. I am a heterosexual male so no need to use one of the new options. But when I want to tell the world that I am a Tyrannosaurus Rex, no option for that. This is extra demeaning as I am going through the difficult process of trans-speciation from human to Tyrannosaur. I am in a no-creatures-land.
And I can’t even express myself in social media.
It is difficult to describe the hardship I felt as a child. I knew from a very early age that I was really a Tyrannosaur, but people only saw a human on the outside. The hurtful comments and strange looks. How many science classes have a sat through where I am told that I have been extinct for millions of years? The lunch lady always insisting that I eat vegetables on my plate even though I knew I was only supposed to eat meat. Seeing my brother’s skeletons ripped from the ground and displayed in museums. It’s a lonely life to be a Tyrannosaur.
Even the American Psychological Association has not recognized that being the wrong species is normal. Many of us who know we are wolves, cacti, plankton, and crustaceans are treated as “mentally ill”. The intolerance is staggering. It is all the more frustrating compared to the new openness to self-identified gender.
The trans-species community has been oppressed for generations. Far from the new open-mindedness toward gender, even the most liberal seem to shy away from those who know themselves not to be human. Imagine being trapped un a human body and yet feeling the inner horseshoe crab crying out from inside you.
In an age of ‘sensitivity’ and ‘tolerance’ there is no room for us. There are no special laws saying that keyboards should be made for those with two fingers, no requirements that vehicles be made to handle a large tail, no paperwork written in Tyranosaur. It is easier to ignore us than to take the time to understand our special needs.
So should we applaud Facebook? I think not. They are avoiding the real problem by acting as if gender is the only choice. We, who are in the trans-species community, know that this is not courageous. It is wholly inadequate. Gender isn’t the only choice we need.
The image above is courtesy of David Wallace and is used with permission.