this post was originally made on pillowfort in .

small thoughts on a more personally useful shortform definition of 'alterhuman' that i've been rolling around in my head:

people with non-typical experiences of species identity, embodiment, narrative identity and personal mythology

two things i like about it:

  1. it massively decenters nonhumanity compared to other definitions, and makes it clearer what we mean when we say 'alternatively human'. i feel like definitions like 'alternatives to humanity and alternative humanities' get read either two ways - as 'nonhumans, etc' because people aren't aware of concrete examples of what 'alternative humanity' looks like, or 'nonhumans and humans, ie everyone'. i see a lot of people uncritically using the term under the first definition, and a lot of people criticizing the term under the second :B
  2. it describes experiences, rather than identities, which means
    • we're not constantly trying to retroactively fit a definition across all the emerging groups that we intuitively feel should be included
    • it feels less like it's transcluding the label onto people in those groups who may not want it
    • it makes it clearer why certain groups come together in this coalition despite being superficially different

two things i'm concerned about:

  1. most people don't know what terms like 'embodiment' and 'narrative identity' mean either. on the one hand, i think that's just a symptom of people not thinking about these as axes of identity at all (because there's Only One Way you can experience them, therefore it's a non-experience). on the other hand, the purpose of a definition like this is to... y'know... explain it to people who don't know what it is.
  2. it might remove the point of being different from hegemonic humanity too much. there is ultimately a reason the word 'human' is in the term. we intuitively feel that these differences impact the idea of 'human' as a category, and i think that's meaningful to remark upon.

i dunno, i think there's still a lot of thinking to be done about What Alterhumanity Is, but i also think we've done enough at this point to update our discourses at least a little bit. thoughts?