i am the creator of one version of a transspecies flag, inspired by lapis-lazuri's stamp here. i really dug the symbolism, but thought the excecution could be a little better. here's the design i came up with:
lavendar is a stand-in for ultraviolet, a color which is beyond the human vision range. it represents ‘superhuman’ beings, transhumanists, mythical creatures and people who modify their body by adding markers of nonhumanity.
black is for any and all identities not covered by the other stripes. people who may not necessarily make physical changes but who change social roles, language used to refer to themselves, stuff like that. also, it’s the color that contrasts most with yellow.
crimson - for infrared, again beyond the human vision range but in the opposite direction. represents 'subhuman’ creatures, earthen animals, folks who 'rewild’ in line with their identity, and people who modify their body by removing markers of humanity.
yellow - represents humanity (i feel yellow has come to represent the human race because it's the default emoji color). the compass rose represents the fact that:
1) regardless of what our identities are, how 'far’ we transition and in what direction, we’re united by the shared experience of living in human society, and starting in a homo sapiens body.
2) this is a new movement and identity space; we don’t really have narratives for it yet. a lot of us are having to forge our own paths in discovering the procedures and technology to do the things we want.
initially, the flag was a private little thing i made for myself and a partner after we'd talked about it for a bit. at the time, the tumblr otherkin community as a whole was still scandalized by the idea of comparing alterhumanity to being lgbt+ (and they still would be for a while) so it wasn't something we wanted to make a big deal out of. but i mentioned it offhandedly in the alt+h discord server, and people seemed... excited? some people gave some artistic feedback, and after a few tweaks, i submitted it to queer-buccaneers in what i believe was july of 2018.
(i have since designed another version which i personally like better. it isn't intended to Officially Replace this one, but there's more information about it further into this page.)
transspecies: an FAQ
what does transspecies actually mean?
i personally define 'transspecies' in a way that deliberately directly parallels leslie feinberg's definition of 'transgender':
crossing the cultural boundaries of species
that's it! in alterhuman circles, it tends to be characterized by a desire to pursue physical or social transition, often motivated by species dysphoria, and/or a strong sense of one's species identity being tied to one's gender identity. people who choose this label also often have political reasons for doing so - making a statement of refusal of the social construct of humanity, and deliberately drawing comparisons with the transgender experience in order to make people think about how we construct these categories. that's just trends i've observed though, none of these traits are Essential.
who uses the term?
in the alterhuman communities, the vast majority of people who use the word are also transgender, but i've met cisgender transspecies people who share the same struggle and experiences. also, for whatever reason, this article on a national french news site says that native french speakers they spoke to vastly preferred to call themselves 'transspecies' over 'otherkin' or 'therian'.
outside of alterhuman circles, transspecies has been used by all kinds of folks. again, it fairly often intersects with transgender discourses (in the academic sense of the term): it was a major concept in one issue of transgender studies quarterly, titled 'tranimalities'. florentin felix morin published ego hippo, a paper exploring his species and gender identities, in the journal of theoretical humanities. in it, he also uses the nominal 'tranimal'. neil harbisson, a cyborg with multiple implants that give him extra senses, considers himself transspecies on that basis.
in theory, the transspecies flag can belong to all of these people. in practise, it was designed with the alterhuman community in mind, and these groups don't overlap enough (yet?) for us to know how they would feel about it.
is it really appropriate to compare this to being transgender?
species identity and gender identity are significantly more related than you think. here are a number of articles by nonhuman transgender authors:
is it actually reasonable to want to pursue species transition?
for a lot of people, it's the only option. no, it's not possible to be 100% surgically transformed into a perfect canis lupus specimen or whatever. but we need to treat that as a conversation starter, to discuss the logistics of morphological freedom as a right and a necessity. not to shut down and dismiss this very real pain. because, i assure you, the distress that species dysphoria causes is absolutely real, as is the relief that actually taking steps to transition provides.
ok, then why a flag?
again, it's a conversation starter. having a symbol lets us find each other, and build community, solidarity, and momentum.
much like the comparison to transgender, invoking a format typically used for queer identities is very deliberate. transgender and transspecies people have struggles and experiences in common, queer people and alterhuman people in general have struggles and experiences in common, and i, as someone who is all of those things, want people to notice that. i absolutely hope that one day i'll see one of these waving at a pride parade.
a second attempt
ultimately, i was never actually really that satisfied with this flag. the biggest source of malcontent for me is that i wanted it to have a symbol that was also useable on its own. when i asked, people admitted they wouldn't think to connect the compass rose to being transspecies if they saw it on its own. i was just quietly grumpy about this for a while until i encountered two other flags: trerrysaur's redesign of the salmacian flag and distressed egg's queer villain pride flag.
now these are some flag designs that kick ass. they are definitively my two favourite pride flags, possibly favourite flags period - excluding the one i'm about to introduce, of course. feeling inspired, and knowing i could do better to satisfy my own artistic taste if nothing else, i went back to the drawing board. after an absolutely silly amount of different design iterations (see the very bottom of the page if you're curious) this is my final design:
diagonal stripes imply movement and transition. it's also a feature in common with a number of other xeno- pride flags (like the medusan one) and flags which represent boundary-breaking identities (like the aforementioned salmacian and queer villain ones).
the symbol used is a proposed symbol for the constellation of ursa minor, with its tail pointing to polaris, the north star. i feel like it better represents the message of forging our own paths by doing away with the compass, a human tool. it also represents reinforces the two 'directions' of the lavendar and crimson: if you want to see the stars these days, you either have to get out into nature, or off the planet entirely.
ursa minor and polaris
another fun thing about this symbol is it looks a little bit like a lowercase delta: δ. like its uppercase variant (which forms one part of the therian theta-delta), it can be used to denote changes in variables. but, more importantly to me, it's also a unicode character. i'm a fan of symbols that can be inserted into text. specifically, i thought it could be used in conjunction with, say, an asterisk or star emoji - δ✨ - to mark yourself as transspecies in bios or whatever, like people do with the ampersand (&) and alt key (⎇) for plurality and alterhumanity respectively. i hope this provides one more option for people to signal this to others, especially for those of us who are just tired of flags at this point.
both of these designs, and all the assets here, are public domain - as all pride flags frankly should be. i have no desire to derive clout or money from them, and i condemn anyone who does. go fuckin' nuts. do whatever you want with them. i'm trusting you to use them for good and not evil.
the .zip file contains:
- 1440x960px .png files of both flags
- 512x512px .png files of the compass rose and ursa minor symbols
- 128x128px emojis of both flags in twemoji and mutant standard styles
- .svg files for all of the above so you can edit them and export them at new sizes
(twemoji style emojis of just the symbols can be found with the rest of my alterhuman symbol emojis
i went through a lot of iterations for both versions of this flag. a lot of the thumbnails for the first design have been lost to time and hard drive failure, but on the left are a bunch i sent to aster of ? haunting towards the end of the process. on the right is the 20+ variations i tried before i landed on my current preferred design.