Good morning, ladies and gents, I’d like to begin by saying it’s an honour to be here among the not-all of non-you. Let me cut straight to the chase; I want to speak about being transhuman. My pronouns (for today, ha ha) are I, it and its.
There is an enormous DIY store I often go to. I have spent a small fortune there on such items as this laptop, shovels, secateurs (three pairs), a hammer, a lawnmower, pots and pans, paints, brushes, an axe, a hoe, hose, paving stones, buckets, gravel, blank CDs, a spice rack, hot plate, fridge, clothes hangers, a saw, coffee table, lamp, office chair, blender, okay, gerai, that’ll do, it, that’ll do.
It is probably the largest store I have ever been to, in. You take a deep breath before entering because shopping in Senukai is an ordeal. To get from the gardening centre on one side to the electronics department on the far side is no walk in the park; it’s a hike (hydration is advised). The kid in me loves it; I want to blow my wad on all sorts of things that I don’t need. But the man in me, hm, I DIE a little bit each time I go there. Because the many men who go there to reinforce their lives are oppressively, tiresomely, unbudgeably manly. Their bodies are hods transporting the mortar of their manliness, their stony faces are the masonry holding them together. I can’t help but feel a little emasculated amid these walking sacks of ontological cement and biological filler (though I suspect the foundations of their souls are shoddier, wobblier). What should be an exciting trip to a DIY store (an erotic tryst between work and pleasure) becomes a guilt-laden visit to an overpriced cathedral of gender construction. I start desperately wanting to grab everything around me, as if some copper wiring and rubber tubing will, with some nifty MacGyverian bricolage, make a man out of me.
That said, I have it relatively easy. I have impressed many a Lithuanian man with my voluminous glugging of vodka shots and rat-a-tat-tat swearing (the trick is to spit the lighter words out like sunflower seeds and hock the heavier words up like globs of phlegm). I cannot imagine how unbearably hard life must be for the LGTB folk struggling to make their way through this concrete gender jungle.
V grew up in a village. Although she was female, she felt like a boy. As a girl she ran around topless with the boys. She played with them, hung with them, was one of them. At school she was brutally bullied for being unfeminine. It was the cruel, continual, and casual kind of bullying that scars a person for life, that thwarts them at a painfully sensitive time in their development. When V moved to Vilnius to study at university, she saw it as an opportunity to start afresh. She tried to look as feminine and beautiful as possible. She was told she looked like a transvestite. But she finally met like-minded people in Vilnius, transgender like herself, bisexuals, gays, cross-dressers, the whole he-she-shebang. At last she became he; that is what he felt himself to be, had always felt, at the core of his being. He got a mastectomy, said it was the happiest day of his life, now he could run around without his cumbersome tits flapping about.
The problem is that V is a man in a woman’s body who is attracted to heterosexual women. None of whom want him. The best he has been able to manage are a few unfulfilling relationships with bisexual women. V has frequently thought about killing himself. He says there is no point in undergoing reconstructive surgery since it is not yet advanced enough to wholly masculate him. You would never know V was a woman to look at him. And he is fortunate, unlike many, to have an understanding and supportive family behind him. Interestingly, when V told his grandmother that she was a he, she nodded and said she suspected as much – she told him that their family line was bendy when it came to gender.
We intuitively love the prefix –trans. We have made a cult out of Transylvania, we romanticise the Trans-Siberian express, I smack my lips over transponders. We ceaselessly transgress, transform, transition. Because we want to transmogrify and transfigure so we can transcend ourselves and our bodily cells. We are transient yet we transfix on transliterating ourselves as fixed entities in a transpersonal world which transposes us into the realm of things.
I propose, ladies and gents, that we all try to be a little more transhuman. We are two thirds water, so let’s embrace the fluidity within and all the humanity gushing about therein. Stop fixating on the coves and promontories in your pants. Cease thinking pink, quit feeling blue. Accept the fact that with a few flicks of your genes you are a toad or a rat. My friend J, who does not currently have a boyfriend, sometimes leans over and smells me. She takes a deep whiff and says, “Mmm! Man!” It always cracks me up while making me shuffle about uncomfortably that I have been transubstantiated from my usual state of gushing into a man-thing. I like it. Being transhuman. It allows me to flow through history, to get into everyone’s stories. Forget your names and the details on your CVs. Forget your threadbare anecdotes and wardrobe of costumes. Forget your complexes and inadequacies. Be more transhuman. Transist.