12/24/19 – None Of Her Business

Spacetrawler, audio version For the blind or visually impaired, December 24, 2019.


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Normally, asking someone who is transgender about their “parts,” or what operations they’ve had is VERY inappropriate, in case any of you are wondering.

If you are curious to learn more about what being “transgender” is about, there are plenty of books. I think “The Transgender Child” is a decent place to start. PFLAG has a more comprehensive list if you are looking for a more nuanced selection.

Oh, and any negative/doubting/joking comments about anything to do with transgender issues will be deleted.

21 Comments

  1. Ada K.

    I figured this was coming.

    When I had kids approaching puberty, I wondered about sexual orientation but I wasn’t woke enough to wonder about gender identity. The current status is: one non-binary who prefers the opposite pronouns to the ones assigned at birth, and one gender agnostic who would accept any pronouns and says “it’s completely impossible to misgender me!”, but doesn’t mind that the family continues to use the same pronouns that were assigned at birth. (I think they’re both panromantic).

    Me, I’m an old-fashioned feminist who accepted my pronouns, but not the gender roles society at large dictated… about the same time I stopped liking pastel pink (mostly because of its girly connotations).

    1. April

      I also gotta say I appreciate how characterfully blunt Emily is here in looking out for Chiphu’s best interests here. It fits her to a T, Emily cares about other people’s wellbeing, but is extremely direct. It’s always good to not see the Generic Cis Person Acceptance Script while still seeing genuine acceptance, you know?

    1. ronald

      When torturers removed Yuri’s arms and legs, she had no choice in the matter, but everything that she did to herself beyond receiving basic prosthetic limbs (like Mr. Zorilla’s) was AFAIK all her idea. It seems certain that being turned into an orange-furred cat woman was entirely her idea. So at first Yuri had no option, and then she had multiple options, until Martina unilaterally limited those options by “brain-blocking” her or whatever it was that Martina did to Yuri.

      Wait a minute, though. If Galactic society provides bodily modification/alteration for FREE — not just cheap but FREE, and free is as cheap as it gets — why would “back-alley butcher shops” exist? I am, unsurprisingly, missing something there.

      Some alien races may offer more physical gender options than male and female, anyway, although I don’t recall if the strip has touched on that theme so far.

      “[A]ll twelve of the Sulamid sexes claimed to be male, especially the ones who had the children.” — from “The Wounded Sky” (Star Trek Novel #13, published December 1983), by Diane Duane

        1. TB

          Not everybody owns a medi-bot, but they do seem common. Ironically, an advanced technological civilization like in this comic might let people switch genders almost as easily as changing clothes, and with about the same minimal level of controversy.

          The immense fluidity of “gender” in this civilization has already been demonstrated by devices that calculate mechanical sexual compatibility between completely alien races that may have multiples sexes, or none at all. When you’re working at that level, I’m surprised the concept of “gender” would even come into it.

          1. Meran

            Read pretty much any Varley novel. In his, the characters may change gender yearly… or whenever bored… or if curious about how others genders experience sexual pleasure.. or for camouflage…
            one character even noted that he (at the time) couldn’t remember what gender he’d been born, it’d been so long ago, with many changes, depending on the lover that was chosen, in order to accommodate such lover. Really not complicated when
            Varley writes it.

      1. Andreas

        I may be overreaching here, but I read this as actually referring to the Joyce Overdrive situation, as, well, the options are far wider than anyone will have considered, and an unscrupulous shop might encourage changes that might end up rather unfortunate.

  2. Mel_Vixen

    I hope Chiphus journey will eventualy be a positive one.

    I am myself trans so thanks for the inclusion. I am a bit curious though how the Alien society and the G.O.B. see the lgbtqia+ theme.

    Many of them like kings species seem like Genderless while others might have more sexes.
    Heck Eebs ability to manifest things might make them very fluid in that regard.

    Iirc even cloning organs was mentioned at one point when Mr. Zorilla lost his arm.

      1. Coyoty

        With so many different species, few of them would recognize any particular gender in the others. They would be like Commander Strax in Doctor Who, who’s constantly getting human genders mixed up. The translator chip might be helping with that, though, translating the corresponding pronouns, but genders other than what a person knows could be challenging.

  3. russell styles

    Judging from the art, it looks like Chiphu was born female, wants to be male. If galactic medicine is as good as I suspect, they will need a donor “Y” chromosome.

    Going the other way would not require outside material, just drop the Y and double the X.

    Of course, they could just do a cosmetic / recreational job, with no ability to procreate added.

    1. You don’t have to judge by the art—he corrects Tesfay a few strips back, saying his pronoun is “he”. 🙂 That *could* have just meant that Chiphu was kind of androgynous in appearance in-world, but there were other hints earlier about him being transgender.

      Interestingly, the Y chromosome is fairly interchangeable! It’s a very small chromosome and there’s not much (substantial) variation in it across the human population. And at a rough approximation, the Y chromosome itself doesn’t encode “biological maleness” beyond the presence of a single gene called SRY that acts as a switch: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Testis-determining_factor

      If that gene hops over onto an X chromosome, you can end up with a person with an XX karyotype and a “standard male” phenotype, both hormonally and anatomically. (They may or may not be able to reproduce.)

      So if I’ve got my genetics right, all Chiphu would need is a single gene to maintain the physiological and anatomical changes the medibot would apply.

  4. Meoi Lass

    I…am not surprised by this page. Somehow, I sort of just expected this topic to eventually be a subplot point. As someone in a very similar situation as Chiphu, it feels… different, having a character in spacetrawler, who feel I can relate to. But then, at one time or another, many people seem to be able to relate to the entire cast.
    I have to say Mr Baldwin, as a long time reader, thank you for a world of art, and fiction, beautiful in color and depth, that engages a world, and readership, in both the humorous, the physical, and philosophical. While I disagree with some opinions, and ideals, you will have me as a reader, and supporter, of these beautiful sagas.
    -Meoi Lass

  5. Pete Rogan

    Aha! Emily was more perceptive than I gave her credit for, and Chiphu (sorry for previous misspellings; grave sin it is) was honest enough to tell the truth and lay his uncertain future before Emily.

    But they is many a slip twixt the cup and the lip. The technology exists, but how swiftly can the hormonal changes be managed — and the coming-to-terms with them? This is not entirely a matter of surgery; this is a road, and the journey is not in one direction and the ultimate destination not necessarily what was imagined. This is a journey best managed with a companion who understands the journey and the uncertainty of the ultimate direction. I don’t mean male-to-female; I mean certain to a new kind of uncertain, a shift in personal psychology larger than male-to-female. Or, to say it bluntly, Chiphu may not become the woman of his dreams, but somebody else entirely. And she will have to deal with that personage when she arrives.

    Lot of ways this could be handled, but all of them take care and especially time. Items almost certain to be in short supply shortly. But I can see how alien perceptions of making the transitions can be milked for comic effect. Even as I’m cringing.

    I think I better get another Coke from the lobby before things get even more interesting. Suddenly I’m dry.

  6. Tobias

    The comic dropped several very large hints about this in quick succession, and I was wondering why it was getting hammered home, rather than just letting it be a subtle background element of the character for readers to pick up on.

    Set up for this conversation is a pretty good reason. I guess if you’re thrust into a world with fantastically advanced technology, that’d be high on your list of things to look into. Especially when extreme body modification has been a major plot point of past stories. I’m sure someone will still end up with the obligatory robot arm.

  7. TB

    Not sure there would be that many species with more than two biological sexes. When sex evolved on our planet, it made evolution a hell of a lot faster than it was when things just split or budded. Changes could be made every generation.

    Seems logical that a species with three sexes would evolve even faster, but if any showed up in our history, I’ve never heard about them. Maybe the extra effort required to get three sexes together in a mating arrangement overrode the evolution speed advantage. If you look at nature’s examples, it seems difficult enough for something to manage even one mate.

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