Printed: 2020-05-27

Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies

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Transhumanism and Disability by Elizabeth Synclair - FurCon 2013

February 04, 2013

Elizabeth Synclair;

Weaving together both wit and wonder on this panel at the Further Confusion Conference,[1] Elizabeth Synclair,[2] intern at the Autistic Self Advocacy Network,[3] speaks eloquently about the relationship between transhumanist culture, disability culture, and the parallels that relationship has to myriad aspects of our society-even in places one may not expect.

"Transhumanists are transhuman, but so are a lot of other cultures, a lot of other people," Elizabeth says, citing examples that range from science fiction authors to trans* people. "I'm not necessarily talking about surgery or hormones," she explains. "I'm talking about pronoun changing. I'm talking about modifying the way that the world perceives and interacts with you based on a dream that you have for how you would like to be interacted with."

Elizabeth argues that beyond merely hoping for a better tomorrow, transhumanist ideals are present and relevant to various facets of society today. She provides an overview of one particular example from the disability rights movement: The "normative [model] says, 'You're too different, be like the normal thing.' [The descriptive model] says, 'You have these traits. Okay, what do you want to do with them? What other traits do you want to have? What are your goals?' I think that's better."

"I think our society is one that is deficient in dreams. And I'm so happy that I've fallen in among the dreamers," Elizabeth says. "Too few people feel like they are allowed to try, allowed to actually do; allowed to stop imagining themselves as an animal and sew the costume; allowed to ask to be called by a different pronoun; allowed to say, 'I don't like talking out loud. I prefer to type.' My dream is for a world in which people feel allowed."





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