The journey of self-discovery is an endless one. It may not feel like it to some: those who are happy with their gender assigned at birth, their sexuality, their identity, or have just never taken the time to explore anything outside of life’s ‘defaults’ may find themselves perfectly satisfied with their lot in life.
For others, the train of self-discovery is boarded early and keeps thundering down the track for decades to come.
I think at this point, I am entirely in the latter group.
A quick catch up
It’s been a little while since I discussed my gender transition on here. Since my last entry about it things have been a bit turbulent. At the start of 2021, I did go to a private GP, got a gender dysphoria diagnosis and the necessary referrals for bloodwork and being able to change my legal documents.
And then I chickened out.
Turns out that not all the bloodwork was ‘right’, there were various red flags in the results that had been returned, the endocrinologist I was in contact with wanted more information—a do-over. I just seized up and stopped responding.
Three months ago, I started self-medicating instead, with hormones from the grey market. It’s a low dosage, low enough to cause some changes without any major health risks. It’s an educated risk and one I’m willing to make until such a time that gender-related therapies are made available with informed consent in this country.
That damn robot bat
Around the time I started self-medicating, I wrote a blog post about my fursona, Emy. This post was primarily aimed at the curious public and, indirectly, my coworkers. I used my fursona as my avatar at work in lieu of my face and it felt like I owed some explaination as to why. That’s why it features a general introduction to the furry fandom—a topic virtually everyone else I know will already be familiar with—at the beginning.
In that post, I wrote
[my] fursona is simply an avatar. I’m a robot bat on the internet after all. I closed it off by saying
And robots? […] I just think they’re neat.
Those were lies. Not deliberate lies intended to mislead or deceive. Those were lies to myself.
Presenting myself as a robot (not even a robot bat, specifically) is something I’ve actually found to be really quite affirming, to a degree I absolutely did not anticipate beforehand. It feels good to think about myself in that way, it feels nice when people reference it, it feels like the answer to an equation I had never solved.
There must be more to this.
Putting the pieces together
When I was quite young—I think early teens, if not preteen age—I had dreams. Dreams that I’ve remembered for the decades since. Dreams about being a robot.
In the one I remember best, I’m seemingly undergoing an inspection. I’m sat on one of those folding half-laid-down seats you get at doctor’s surgeries. They pop open my right shin, revealing the metal bones and circuitry within.
Such was my impressionable, young mind that for a few years after I was convinced that I was the robot of my dreams. One disguised by flesh and hair, true, but a robot nonetheless.
I continued to indulge my fascination with robotics throughout my youth. I built robots, some working, some hand operated, from my construction toys. I adored, and still rather do adore, shows like Robot Wars and Techno Games and films like The Iron Giant and Terminator 3 (don’t laugh).
At a regional schools STEM event in my mid-teens, one of the activities was to build a simple robot and and program it to automatically navigate an obstacle course. Naturally, with my existing expertise doing this for fun, I completed the robot long before anyone else and completed the course on the first attempt. This isn’t really that relevant to the story, but I was pretty proud of that moment. I think I got a medal.
Alexander, my fursona for ten stinkin’ years between 2008 and 2018 (when I made Emy) was a cyborg. A biological mind, in a machine-enhanced brain, in a machine-built body, covered in fuzz. Somehow I never dug too deeply into that aspect. In hindsight, maybe I should have.
In 2013, I wrote a short essay—“On Gender and Sexuality”—which served as my public coming out notice of being a panromantic, asexual and (as I thought at the time) agender individual.
I also said this:
I have never had any affiliation to any particular gender, nor even any particular species. To me, the body is but a vessel for the mind, and it is the mind that defines who you are – not the composite mix of chromosomes that creates your body.
Admittedly, I too have some degree of physical dysphoria, in that I have rarely identified as human. When I was younger I thought myself a robot or a cyborg, other times I have thought myself an alien or something not-quite human.
In one fell swoop, I had decreed myself genderless, sexless, a person who saw more of themselves in machines than in humanity, and a mind without a body to call its own. How this wasn’t a massive flag, in hindsight, is a complete mystery to me.
When Emy was first roboticised in early 2020 it was meant to be temporary. It remained ‘temporary’ for ten entire months. At the point that I declared it permanent, my partner commented that, in their mind, it already was.
Folks, I think I might be a robot
Not literally, of course. I have no doubts that I am a squishy sack of meat and bones, as unfortunate as that is.
But, well, your life and your identity is what you make of it. Posthumanism isn’t exactly a new topic, alterhumanism is newer, but still quite widespread.
I’ve become rather convinced that I sit within one or both of these identities. I may be human, but I quite clearly don’t want to be.
Doing something about it
As much as I might like to, I have a lot of professional equity tied up in my public identity. I doubt I could be so public about this matter without drawing some kind of response from people I really don’t want to hear the opinions of.
For now, this is on the down low. Not private, but I’m rather hoping it manages to fly under the radar for a bit.
I’m going to tease it a little. I’ve already started doing this. My Twitter and Mastodon profiles have been updated to state that they’re automated bot accounts. It’s a silly little thing that exploits a system in an unintended way, but it’s a nice, frequent affirmation.
I might also pop the apparently way-more-common-than-I-thought theta-delta (θΔ) symbols in some places, which is a coded signifier of alterhuman identity.
I’m sharing… a little bit. In spaces where there is greater control over the audience (primarily, Discord servers) I’m going to try and be more public about it. If you’re reading this at all, you probably made the cut. I can only hope that you’re willing to try.
I’m trying on ‘it’ pronouns, in addition to my regular she/her. I’ve previously been a little disdainful of ‘it’ pronouns, as they always felt a bit dehumanising to me. Now that’s the point.
I’m a robot bat
on the internet. If you’ve read this, I’d really appreciate maybe amping up the robot-ness of our interactions. I’m not eating, I’m recharging; I’m not sleeping, I’m in hibernation mode; I’m not ‘doing fine’, I’m ‘operating within acceptable parameters’.
Treat me like a machine. I’m not a mindless automaton. I have sentience and will, I just also have servomotors and CPUs.
It may seem childish or silly, but indulging small shit like that makes me feel really damn nice in my processor cores.
Okay? Okay. Good.
I’m not sure where I might go from there. This is really just an initial exploration into this previously unrecognised aspect of my identity. I cannot say yet when this exploration will end, if it will ever end, or what the outcome will be.
The journey of self-discovery is an endless one, after all, and they won’t let me off this train.
Edit (2022-07-28): I’ve penned some questions and answers relating to this post in a follow-up.