You’ve heard of female. You’ve heard of male. You’ve heard of transgender. You’ve heard of all the different genders there are nowadays. But have you heard of alien?
In this day and age, people can identify so many different ways. Some people are born male, but want to be a female, and so change their identity to a female. They can undergo surgery to change their body parts, take medication, and change their name, all to fit in with their new identity.
However, did you know that some people are now identifying as alien?
Vinny Ohh is a 23-year-old who lives in Los Angeles and identifies as a genderless alien (despite this, refers to himself as ‘he’). He is now wanting to take extreme measures; in that he wants to have his genitalia removed so he can be neither male nor female. Plastic surgeons are worried to undertake the procedure, as they are concerned that Vinny is so young, and he may change his mind later in life.
Surgeon Dr Simoni said that his main concern about the possible surgery is that if Ohh changes his mind, due to the nature of the surgery there is no way to go back to being male or female. However, Vinny says the goal is “… to become an exact, scientifically proportioned, sexless human being”. He goes on to say that there are people who talk about gender reassignment, but Ohh wants to have “gender unassignment”. Vinny said that when he thinks of aliens, he does not think of them as having any gender, and he wants to be that way.
Ohh’s sister, Daniella, supports the transition, saying, “I do worry that he’ll change his mind about surgery later in life but the more we talk about it, the more it actually feels like this is actually truly what he needs and wants to be more authentically him."
Personally, I do not understand the mindset of the sister. If my big brother came to me and told me he was going to undergo surgery to become a genderless alien I would be having a serious chat to him.
The fact is that Vinny is only 23 years old, and a big decision like that should not be made at such a young age. If, like the surgeon says, Ohh changes his mind down the track, it is too bad, because he is now stuck as a genderless alien.
Another story of a genderless alien is that of Jareth Nebula.
Jareth Nebula was born in Washington as a female but did not believe they fitted that role, and so at the age of 29 they transitioned to a male. But that was still not enough. Now, Nebula’s final identity is a genderless alien.
Being agender means that Jareth has no gender at all, and they have gone to extreme measures to ensure they do not look human. They had their nipples removed, multiple piercings done and wear plenty of makeup to try and look as alien and unearthly as possible. Jareth said, “I’m simply otherworldly. I didn’t feel comfortable as either gender, or even anything in between … I’m an alien with no gender”.
The transition to becoming an alien started when Jareth was a teenager and was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which meant they had over-flexible joints. Nebula said that after being diagnosed with the condition they felt isolated and different from other people, and this eventually led to the fascination with extra-terrestrial life. Jareth was determined to find out how it felt to be extra-terrestrial, and that is when they decided to become agender.
Originally, Nebula’s family supported their transition from female to male, but have struggled to come to terms with them being an alien. Jareth also struggles on, and offline, saying that “people treat me like a freak because I’m an alien … If someone wants to identify as anything, even an animal, let them”.
However, many people, like myself, do not understand how someone could identify as an alien.
'Kimberly Smith' said, “since I don’t believe in aliens how can I be expected to seriously accept this person’s decision to identify as an agender alien? If I met Jareth in the classroom would I be expected to pretend as if I do believe in aliens?”
This is a difficult question to answer, because unless you come in contact with agender aliens every day, how are you supposed to know how to treat them? Do you treat them as a regular person and act as you normally would with anyone else, or do you have to go out of your way to show you realise they are an alien?
If I ran into Nebula or Ohh on the street, I would probably treat them as I do everyone else. However, in the back of my mind I would always be concerned that I was offending them because I was not treating them differently, when they so clearly want to be different.
'Smith' went on to write that she was confused by what Nebula was trying to achieve with the transition. She said that Jareth says they are searching for acceptance, “… but at the same time their decision to depart from the human race appears to be a mad dash in the opposite direction”.
She makes a good point, in that Nebula wants acceptance from humans but has chosen to lead an alien life. Jareth is clearly dissatisfied with genders and does not seem to be able to accept human life. Yet expects everyone to accept them.
'Smith' finished up by asking a controversial question: “are there any boundaries or limits?”
The issue with placing boundaries and limits on what you can identify as is that people will get upset that the world might not accept them. For example, someone may identify as a snail, but if everyone says that people cannot identify as animals, then the snail can cause an uproar because the world is unaccepting of them. Because of this, it is difficult to know if and what limits should be put in place.
In 2011, Bill C-279 was introduced in Canada, which is a Gender Identity Bill. The aim of the bill is to protect those who want to change their gender, from discrimination and hate crimes. There are now thirteen categories which are prohibited grounds of discrimination, with number eight being ‘Gender Identity or Expression’. The Canadian Human Rights Trust website says that the aim of the act is “… for all individuals to have equal opportunities and accommodations in Canadian society, without being hindered by practises that discriminate based on these aspects of their identity and lived experiences.”
Brenda Cossman, of The University of Toronto, said, “there is no criminalisation of the misuse of pronouns”, and a fellow professor, Richard Moon, went on to say that speech which could land you in jail would have to be “extreme in character”. For an act to be extreme in character, I assume it means hate crimes and violent crimes against people who change genders. If a group of people beat up a transgender man, then I think it is perfectly reasonable for them to spend some time in jail, as they have endangered another human beings’ life.
However, while I do not agree with bullying or putting people down, I do believe everyone has the right to express their opinions. In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19 says that, “everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”. However, if people are not allowed to express their opinions on people changing or identifying as different genders, then does this not violate our human rights?
Liam Patrick writes, “if I was arrested for misgendering someone I have now lost my right to freedom of speech”. It appears that some people have not thought of it from that perspective, instead, they have been focusing simply on not offending people.
Now, I do not condone hate speech. I do not condone violence against people. I do, however, believe that everyone should have the opportunity to express their opinions, and with this law in Canada it is likely to make people scared and uncomfortable to even speak about different gendered people, in case they say something wrong.
I, personally, do not agree with all these different types of genders which are now a thing in our world. I also find it difficult to come to terms with, and accept, that someone out there in the world does not identify as any gender. But frankly, it is none of my business whether Jareth Nebula or Vinny Ohh is a female, male, cow, pickle or genderless alien.
A big issue is that now there are laws and bills being passed which violate our basic human rights. If we do not have, or are not able to exercise, our human rights, then we are living a less than human life, because they were created so everyone could be free and equal in the world.
The fact that people are able to identify as so many different things makes the world complicated, and almost makes it seem as though we all need to walk around with a sign which tells the rest of the world what we identify as, so to ensure that no one gets offended or is put in jail because of it.
The main problem, I believe, is that Nebula, Ohh, and others like them, demand immediate acceptance of their identities from the world. But most of the time it is going to take people a while to come to terms with the fact that people want to classify themselves as something so diverse. Ultimately, the fact is that everyone is demanding acceptance in so many different ways for so many different things, it is just to difficult to keep up and truly accept all of them.
NOTE: THIS ARTICLE IS NOT WRITTEN TO OFFEND ANYONE. This is an opinion piece I wrote after seeing an article about Jareth Nebula on my Facebook feed. It is simply my, and some other people’s, opinions on different gender identities
NOTE 2: 'Kimberly Smith' is a fake name, written to protect her privacy. Her quotes have been sourced from one of my university discussion spaces, and as such, she could not be properly credited