“I Am (Not) A Robot” – Humanization and Inclusion

Title sounds fancy, but this is just me being done.

“I may be asexual but I’m not a robot!”

“I’m aromantic but I’m not a heartless monster!”

“Friendly reminder that disabled people are human too :)”

I get it. It’s important to rehumanize people who have been dehumanized — especially black people, other people of color, trans women, disabled folks, and Muslim people.

At the same time.

This is where I could pull out a bunch of jargon and philosophize. “Appeal to human authority” and “coercive humanization” and “humanity versus personhood.” I could probably investigate the usage of “human nonperson” to great effect.

But what I’m saying is, I don’t like this goalpost.

Not just from a semi-abstract moral position on nonhuman animal rights.

There are many folks who id as nonhuman, wholly or partially. For a myriad of reasons. Spirituality, religion, cultural beliefs; neurodiversity, disability, mental illness; reclamation, solidarity, kinship; any reason you can imagine and then some.

I know this sounds like an abstract, far-removed, immaterial linguistic nitpick. And I certainly know it isn’t a Priority like violence, homelessness.

But I am serious, and I do believe our framing perpetuates harm in very real material ways.

I believe identifying as nonhuman says something, is a reflection of already having been Othered, of finding oneself/ves outside of systems. A difference and perhaps difficulty, in communication, in sensory experience, in sense of self/ves.

Personhood, not humanity.

Some people are robots, or monsters, or animals.

And even if we weren’t – some people have the traits which are called those things, and distancing from those is respectability politics and probably ableist.

Besides, appeals to common humanity are usually derails.

And then we have the non-corporeal folks dealing with messages about bodies, physical plane, whoo. Exhausting. Body dysphoria is an intentionally broad category yet so rarely is it (allowed to be) expanded, lest all those cis otherkin horn in on human trans territory (lmao cis otherkin, like asexual men, are p mythical).

I’m just…here. Here’s some of my crazy. I’m a glitch and I should be able to disidentify with having a body, say I don’t really have one, tell people my limits around photos and discomfort around various positivity messages and self-help emphases on physicality / grounding / body-awareness.

Yes, this intersects with trauma and dissociation, and non-binary and dysphoria, and autistic and mental illness, and spirituality, and reclaiming hurt, and communicating about self experience and needs, and resistance to hurtful or unhelpful messages.

And also, so what! So what if I can point to reasons? It’s taken a long time to consolidate them, does that mean this was less valid before?

Bah.

Personal assertion: I am (not) a robot. …Okay, yes, resist what people have put on you. Just be careful you’re not putting down others who are what you’re saying you aren’t.

Community assertion: aces are (not) human. …same as above and, also, literally false.

My favorite I saw lately went something like:

Not all aromantics are robots; I, however, am.

Anyway. This post brought to you by Marina and the Diamonds, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and Trans Day of Visibility.

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6 thoughts on ““I Am (Not) A Robot” – Humanization and Inclusion

  1. Hm, could you elaborate on ‘some people have the traits which are called those things, and distancing from those is respectability politics and probably ableist’? As far as I’ve seen, people claiming ‘X group are human’ seems to be an effort to assert that traits that are seen as nonhuman (and thus stigmatised) should be seen as human, but maybe I’m misreading you or being too optimistic?

    Also, yeah, I know the thing you are talking about. I don’t usually care much, because I already feel like happy acceptance messages aren’t talking about people like me (partly because changeling stuff and partly because already too multiply weird), but I get how it could be frustrating.

    ~mystical cisish otherkin face~

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  2. Mm – I’ve seen a lot of “we aren’t robots! We aren’t cold or awkward, we understand how to interact with people!” And “we aren’t monsters – we aren’t angry, or dangerous to your status quo!”

    So much is “we’re just like you!” Assimilation, which always turns into respectability politics, shove the gender non-conforming folks out of sight to get cis gay marriage rights, all that.

    There’s a lot of “stop writing us into media as robots/monsters/nonhuman, we can’t identify with that and we ARE human!” Which directly hurts folks who do id with those characters, or who fit the stereotypes that writers use.

    Like yes, advocate for more human representation since yeah there isn’t much and there should be. But don’t ignore how many folks have come to id as nonhuman and reclaimed those charas which you’re now saying are inherently harmful.

    I don’t see it as a “these traits are human/okay” most of the time, but as a “this is a crude stereotype and we aren’t like this” which is really shitty.

    And yep, generally not feeling like those messages are meant for me. But they should be, they think they *are*, and that aggravates me to no end.

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  3. Thank you for this post. I’ve had mental health issues for a long time and I’m just beginning to realize I might be able to use the word trauma to refer to some of my experiences. I have a terrible memory and am not very emotional. I often feel like I don’t exist. I’m just a simulation of a person, a placeholder until the real person who’s supposed to be here comes back.
    So a lot in this post resonated with me. I’ve never really understood otherkin stuff very well before. It’s like….I feel this kind of perspective gives me the power to consider my personal, more subjective description of myself legitimate. I mean, I have a differently-framed explanation, that I think my brain just keeps me at a lower level of consciousness to keep out all the pain and anxiety, and I’ve just learned how to approximate a normally functioning person. But that kind of description is just…not as personally significant.

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