Transhumanism and Transgenderism enjoy a close relationship due to mutual interest in enhancement technology. Multiple transgenders are valuable spokespeople in H+, such as IEET fellow Martine Rothblatt, IEET contributor and KurzweilAI editor Amara Angelica, and the brilliant tech writer for Acceler8or and hplusmagazine that I interviewed for this article: Valkyrie Ice.
Hank Pellissier: Hi, Val. Let’s begin with your introduction.
Valkyrie Ice: I didn’t start out as Val… No, my “legal” name is Lance, and I am a transgendered M2F. Like most transgenders, I didn’t really know why I felt so different as a child. My parents worried about my difficulties “socializing with my peers” and about how picked on I was in school for being “different”. Even I had no clue as to why I was so different until I was reading the “The Marvelous Land of Oz” one day, and reached the end of the book. If you’ve never read this particular OZ novel, the spoiler ending is that the “hero”, Tip, turns out to be the “princess” Ozma, hidden as a boy to protect her from the evil witch Mombi. I was floored when I first read that scene, because it was like a thousand light switches suddenly went off in my brain all at once as I finally knew with perfect clarity exactly what the problem with my reality was.
But, it was the 70’s. No-one would listen to an 8 year old boy who thought he was a girl back then. I learned very fast to simply keep that to myself after my parents took me to the shrink to be told how wonderful it was that I had a penis, and how could I possibly desire to be an “inferior” female. Besides, I’m female oriented, which back then meant I couldn’t possibly “seriously” desire to be female, because only M2F’s attracted to men were considered “real” transsexuals. When I sought reassignment previously, I was denied precisely for that reason. That’s changed over the years, but I’ve yet to reach the point in my life where I can devote the enormous financial resources needed to seek reassignment again.
That hasn’t stopped me from being the real me online though, and for over twenty five years, I have existed as Valkyrie in cyberspace; it’s been my name on the internet from almost the very first time I signed onto a BBS. Val feels more like the real me than that endless succession of masks I have to wear every day. When I’m online, I usually feel like I’ve taken off this massive coat of lead armor and get to stretch my wings a little.
And yes, I did say wings. Did I forget to mention that I am also a succubus?  And that I have been that entire time. From the earliest days in the moos and mushs, I’ve been a horned, hooved, batwinged and spaded tail demoness. If you want to know why, I recommend reading my article “Dreams of a Succubus”, especially the commentary.
Hank Pellissier: What in your opinion are the mutual interests of transgenderism and transhumanism?
Valkyre Ice: At it’s heart, I see both as about embracing change. As a transsexual, I suffered from a genetic mix-up that resulted in a feminized brain inhabiting a masculinized body. In the past, there was no way to change this. The technology simply did not exist to enable a physical change to be made and allow this error to be corrected. Now, it does. I can change my body to be a match with my brain.
In much the same way, the human being has been relatively unchanged for thousands of years, our physical shells unable to match the adaptivity of our brains, and the rapid evolution of our social and mental structures. Our knowledge and culture has advanced by leaps and bounds, while our bodies are still chained to the slow pace of biological evolution. We’ve been trapped by our DNA as a species in the exact same manner I have been trapped by mine in a physical shell that does not mirror our inner selves. And just like the technology now exists to change my body, so too will we soon have the technology to allow all of humanity to bypass random mutation and become a self directed, consciously evolving being.
So, as a transgender, I am merely a singular example of the transformation humanity itself will undergo as we move out of the era of limits, and into the era of limitlessness.
Yet despite this fact, society is much slower to accept that such corrections are possible. Even with all the advances made by transgenders over the last few decades, I still have to deal with people who flat out refuse to accept transgendered individuals on the basis of their mental self identity, but must instead insist that I act “male”. I cannot even count the number of times I’ve been told to “act like a man!” with the person telling me this acting like I’ve committed some crime by daring to not meet their expectations of what I should act like. When I reveal to many people my further desires to be a succubus, and can even tell them precisely why I see it being a strong possibility, even many transhumans dismiss it as fantasy. It’s this struggle to open societies eyes to the changing reality that the future is bringing that makes being transgender and being transhuman inseparable to me.
Hank Pellissier: What drew you to transhumanism? Did it have anything to do with your transgender status, or not?
Valkyrie Ice: Not directly, no. The simple fact is that I grew up being a Sci-fi junkie, and a typical computer geek. This lead me to enroll in a course in electronics repair, and during that course, I became interested in reading more about how electronics worked. That’s when I encountered the second book that made my brain explode in pyrotechnics.
That book was “Nano” by Ed Regis. It introduced me to a man named Drexler, and the concept of nanotechnology. That, more than even “Engines of Creation”, “Unbounding the Future” and “Nanosystems” made me the transhumanist I am. I’ve read all of them, and they merely underscored the brain shattering epiphany I had the night I read Nano, then looked at my hand and realized that everything I was, everything around me, indeed, every form of life on Earth itself, was the most irrefutable PROOF that nanotechnology was not only feasible, but inevitable. Since then, I have as avidly pursued the course of research as I once devoured the science fiction shelves at my library.
Basically, you could say I was a transgender first, became a transhuman, and only later realized that they were linked.
Hank Pellissier: Do you have any transgender or transhumance heros/role models?
Valkyrie Ice: To be honest, I can’t actually point to anyone in particular I consider a hero/role model. There are many people I respect, and many people I envy, but I’m vain enough to consider myself as uniquely “me”. I admire Martine Rothblatt for her accomplishments, and I’m intensely jealous that she’s already been able to become what I’m still stuck dreaming about, but I’m one of those really annoying people who simply cannot bring myself to view anyone as either a superior or inferior to myself, which is pretty much what is needed to “look up” to someone. Credentials really don’t mean a damn to me, nor does social status. The only thing I value is whether or not your viewpoints and conclusions make rational sense. I am extremely biased against blind faith, whether it is in a religious dogma, or a political ideology.
Hank Pellissier: Are there any pop culture heros that mean a lot to you?
Valkyrie Ice: Illyana Rasputin, aka Majik of the New Mutants. Why? Because to me, more than most other superheros in pop culture, she represents the struggle humanity itself faces against it’s demons of the Id. As a child, she was kidnapped to be raised as a demon sorceress. By all rights, she should have become a true evil. Yet despite this, she fought against her natural impulses, against her urges to slaughter and torment the entire world to instead try and be a force of good. In this same way, we as humans have to struggle against our animal natures, against the urges we have to exploit others, or inflict harm against them, in order to achieve some short sighted goal of personal gain. It is all too easy to ignore the pain we inflict on one another in our efforts to “get ahead” on the social pecking order, and to think that it’s okay to shove some else under the bus so that we can rise just one more step up the ladder. But, like Illyana, we have it within ourselves to overcome these animal urges, and look for ways to benefit all of us mutually, even as we derive personal benefits through co-operative effort.
Hank Pellissier: Do you have complaints about transhumanism’s relationship to transgender people? Do you think most H+ people are interested in transgender issues?
Valkyrie Ice: I do feel that many transhumanists share in the same prejudices against transgenders that the common society does, in that despite the seeming beliefs that humanity is capable of overcoming its limitations, they place undue importance on the current physical form and in the conventional definitions of identity. One issue I run into all too frequently is people accusing me of “hiding” behind a false name, when I view Valkyrie as my real name, and female as my real sex, with my “legal name” merely a fiction I am forced to endure because society insists I *have* to play at being male. Anyone who runs a simple Google of my name will find that not only has Val been my name for my entire existence on the internet, but that it is inextricably linked to my “legal” identity, and is not a “fake name” but a “Unique Identifier.”
And this is despite the fact that many other “Unique Identifiers” are commonly accepted not merely by transhumanists, and transhumanist organizations, but by the academic community as well. R.U. Sirius, my publisher at Accelor8or, appears to have little issue with publishing in both popular and academic venues under his pen name, and “The Amazing Randi” spent many years being accepted as a serious academic under his stage name. Yet time and again, I have faced serious opposition to my viewpoints based on no better reasoning than claims I am hiding behind a avatar and a pseudonym. Even Kevin Kelly has stated (in response to a comment I made on his article about unique names) “Way to go Valkyrie Ice. Wish I had that foresight.”
Hank Pellissier: What do you think H+ can be doing for transgender people?
Valkyrie Ice: More than anything else, H+ is about CHOICE. It is about enabling humanity to choose what it will be, rather than passively accept the dictates of biology and random evolution. It embraces those who have overcome limits, who have chosen to ignore society’s demands that we “not rock the boat.” To BE H+, we have to believe that we have the ability to improve, to change, to become something other than what we were, or are. As transgenders, we are merely precursors of the changes that humanity will have to face as we enter into a future of unlimited choice. Soon, we will have the ability to change nearly every aspect of our physical selves, from gender to race, even to species. Our right to be the sex we feel we should be is trivial compared to the right everyone should have to BE whatever they wish, be it elf or centaur, human or inhuman, or even biological or non. If H+ cannot even accept transgenders on their own terms, how can they justify humanity’s right to even greater morphological freedoms? We cannot selectively fight for one, and deny another.
I am Valkyrie Ice, Succubus. My current physical form and gender might be outside of my control at this moment, but they will not always be. I have no right to tell you what you should be, and by extension you have no right to tell me what I should be. Accept me on my terms, and I will accept you on yours, and together we can both become greater than we are apart.
And what else is H+ if it is not the dream that we can become greater than what we are now?
Hank Pellissier: What do you see as the future of gender? What would you like to see happen?
Valkyrie Ice: I honestly don’t see gender being something that humans will “abandon”. I think that instead, we will explore an infinite number of permutations. Use SL as a “lab” and you can get a pretty good idea of what is likely to occur. There will be hims and hers and hyms and hirs, and any combo you can possibly think of. While I prefer to think of myself as female, I’m perfectly willing to admit to enjoying sex as a male, and once I can experience sex as a fully functional female, I’ll be able to decide which I prefer, or even decide I like to switch back and forth, or maybe be both at once. Who knows. We humans are sexual animals, and eliminating that drive is probably not going to be something more than a small percentage of the population will embrace.
I do think that we will completely divorce sex and gender from the reproductive process. We will find ways to increase sexual pleasure, endurance, and frequency while removing any possibility of reproduction except under mutual consent by all parties involved. As for gender, I think we will have to grow accustomed to a reality in which no-one’s gender is fixed, and in which most people will be whichever gender they feel most comfortable as for any given situation.
Hank Pellissier: What do you see as the future of H+? what would you like to see happen?
Valkyrie Ice: I’ve already answered that one Hank. In fact, I’ve been writing on that topic for a few years now.
 Succubus (wikipedia) - In folklore traced back to medieval legend, a succubus is a female demon or supernatural being appearing in dreams who takes the form of a human woman in order to seduce men, usually through sexual intercourse… In modern fictional representations, a succubus may or may not appear in dreams and is often depicted as a highly attractive seductress or enchantress…
Hank Pellissier serves as IEET Interim Managing Director and Fundraiser. He was IEET’s Managing Director on January-October in 2012, and is an IEET Affiliate Scholar.
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