Thorn: Today we’re going to learn about medical microchips! And I’m handing the floor over to Juniper, because they speak from experience.
Juniper: On it, boss!
A medical microchip is a kind of healing crystal. They’re very tiny — smaller than grains of rice — and highly specialized.
The most common ones stimulate the body to produce a substance it can’t make enough of naturally. Or suppress production when it has too much.
Usually neurotransmitters, or hormones.
The spells are encoded to your biology, and heavily encrypted to keep anyone unauthorized from remotely hacking your glands.
Quick biology review! My species makes new people by combining two distinct kinds of cell. And none of us produce both kinds at once. Which means you can break us down into three categories:
♦ Lots of estrogen
♦ XX genes
♦ Can carry pregnancies
♦ Lots of testosterone
♦ XY genes
♦ May otherwise fit one of those first two groups
♦ May have a mix of their traits, depending on specific condition
In serious science terms, this means we’re anisogamic (two gametes) and gonochorous (nobody makes both).
Some of us have dysphoria related to the category we’re in. The good news is, it’s easy to treat! Regular doses of whatever sex hormone you’re not producing enough of on your own can clear you right up.
. . . mostly. Some things do need a little surgical intervention.
[HEARTSWORD-TRAINING-ERA JUNIPER –> ]
So that’s how my agender self gets their regular infusion of testosterone! Without having to haul syringes and doses into the field.
The word for people with sex-related dysphoria basically translates as “transgender,” but Ceannis doesn’t see us as one subset of an “LGBTQ community.” We’re seen as a subset of “people who need hormone treatments.”
Since that’s the mindset I grew up with, it’s clearly the most natural and logical one.
. . . even if it means nobody ever designed us a flag.
Are those symbols based on any real world equivalent? I don’t quite recognize them, but they still look vaguely familiar.
The last one looks inspired by the symbol for the planet Neptune, the middle one based on the symbol for the sun and Mars/male and the first one a variant based off of the symbol of Venus and Earth.
“Culturally, we’re just seen as one subset of people who need hormone treatments. Since that’s the mindset I grew up with, it’s clearly the most natural and logical one.” pffffffffffffft A+
Am I right in assuming these chips can also work like a birth control implant in our world?
Yes indeed. Most of the cis women in the cast have one of those.
Also, I notice the symbols here are also seen in the constellations comic, for the Rose Tree, Compass, and Chalice respectively. Is that significant in any particular way?
Our world uses the symbols of Mars and Venus to represent male and female (and sometimes Mercury and Pluto for non-binary and/or intersex). Since this world doesn’t have the same gods/symbols, I picked three of the astronomical symbols it does have, to serve the same purpose.
It’s funny how he tries to explain everything and avoid the english words normally used for that to drive home the point that they’re really don’t like how their own biology is forcing them into (almost) binary sex categories.
Feminism and emancipation notwithstanding, there are humans which can produce eggs and carry pregnancies and humans who produce sperm and can’t carry pregnancies. Producing neither is only third category and hard to not see as disability.
Not sure what “feminism and emancipation” have to do with it. Feminism isn’t about pretending biological sex doesn’t exist. It’s about saying that sex and gender don’t affect the rights and respect you deserve as a human being.
Infertility (whether or not that’s the result of an intersex condition) is only a disability if it actually disables you. Take someone like me, who has no interest in having children — for all I know, I am infertile. It’s not like it affects my life either way.
Feminism: If only all people would be able to agree on this definition.
Infertility: (Studying dictionary …) Maybe impairment? The point is that it isn’t equal alternative. (Yes, it’s not different from any other cause of infertility, maybe just in how hard it’s to fix.)
Eh, impairment is relative. Compared to Olympic athletes, almost everyone is physically impaired, because we can’t do the things they can do. But I would feel weird if someone described me that way in general.
Infertility isn’t different from infertility?
It isn’t really one “alternative” at all, it’s a catch-all category for a bunch of different conditions. I just threw them all in one bucket here because going into the details would have made the strip way too long.
I think the point you are trying to touch in is the idea of “x is supposed to”. That is, ascribing meaning (a human thing) to evolution (a non-human, non-entity thing): ideas like “you are supposed to be able to reproduce to make babies” or “you are supposed to be either A or B”. When you have that thinking in mind, it implies that something “is wrong” with people in the third category.
These people don’t live with that, hence why the third category is accepted to be normal and logicla for them.
Am I on the right track here? Or am I weering off?
Saying that water WANT to flow down is ascribing lot of human things to it, nevertheless, for practical purposes it’s usable description. Human reproduction organs were not designed in the way machines are, it still can be described what they do and distinguish if they work or not.
It’s one thing if you decide you won’t use them for their primary purpose (which is to make babies), it’s other if you can’t because they don’t work. (After all, the primary purpose for brain is making decisions, no other part of body is supposed to have that function, various sayings about guts and heart notwithstanding.)
You may be close to right track but “supposed to” is dangerously close to saying what PEOPLE are supposed to do, and, well, they are supposed to decide themselves. Preferably by using as much of their brains as they are able to.
Just to be clear: in our English, Juniper would be transgender of female-to-male? Or is she (he? they?) of a neutral gender? And the surgical intervention is transition-surgery?
Also: how do they determine whether someone needs such crystals? Are there sophisticated medical methods that can detect whether the brain and the body is mismatched?
Thorn uses “they” pronouns for Juniper in the first panel. Juniper is agender, which is why they say “my agender self” in the last panel.
Look at flashback-Juniper’s chest, then look at present-day-Juniper’s chest, then take a wild guess at what kind of surgery they had.
Who gets hormone treatments is determined the same way it is in our world. The patient goes to a doctor and says “hey, doctor, I’m trans and don’t feel good about my body.” The doctor evaluates their symptoms and prescribes a medication that might help. The patient takes that medication for a trial period, and if it works, the prescription gets renewed.
I should have prefaced: I am mostly asking to resolve ambiguity.
Some of the things you’re asking were already unambiguous in the strip, though.
WANT. That sounds much more convenient and effective than hormone treatment in our world is.
“Since that’s the mindset I grew up with, it’s clearly the most natural and logical one.”
You know, I might actually agree with the ‘logical’ part, considering how neatly it makes the matter clinical, and avoids politicization and binary thinking.
Those medical crystals sound very useful for treating diabetes.
They are indeed.
OK, let’s say someone has diabetes, a hormone condition(e.g. PCOS), mental health issues(e.g. depression, PTSD, anxiety, etc.) and are gender fluid, would one chip work for all, or would they need one for each problem?
Each microchip can handle more than one thing, but they don’t have unlimited capacity. And sometimes it helps if they’re location-specific (e.g. one chip implanted nearer the brain, another one nearer the ovaries).
For the list you just gave, I’m thinking they would get the programming distributed over 2 chips.
Cool, good to know. Can I just say that I love how you respond to world building questions from your readers? Especially since most webcomics I read the writer either ignores such questions or doses the “you’ll find out… eventually” type thing. I mean, yeah some stuff should be revealed in the comic itself, but tiny details like this? It can be pretty awkward trying to fit them into conversations.
I’ll hold back information when it’s for a plot-relevant reveal, but a lot of times the details people ask about are things I just haven’t thought about that deeply. So I take the question as a worldbuilding prompt. If someone’s interested enough to ask, I figure that means it’ll enrich the story if I work out the answer.
Could these crystals be “abused” to produce more testosterone and other things for increased muscle growth?
Definitely. It’s a concern in the sporting world. (Although most physical sports are a niche interest in Ceannis, so there’s not the same incentive to win at all costs.)
I just have to say, I love your representation of trans characters. I wish I had this representation as a child.
My pleasure =)
Hey Erin! my mom is teaching sex-ed “https://www.uua.org/re/owl” at church, and asked me how to talk about gender vs “biological sex”: I refereed her to your comic, because you explain it really well.
Aw, thanks! Happy to help 🙂