Monday, February 02, 2004
The big 3-0
Today's my thirtieth birthday. Sort of, kind of, I guess. I mean, when is my birthday now? February 2nd is the day I remember celebrating it, but in terms of wear and tear, and whether I'm considered old enough to drink, run for President, or receive retirement benefits, then this body had its 25th birthday back in November. Or, you could argue that since I sort of consider myself a new person made up of pieces of the original Martin Hartle and Michelle Garber, my proper birthday would by July 19th, the day that happened (if it happened after midnight, otherwise, it'd be July 18th).
So, which is it? Did I turn 30 today, or did I turn 25 in November, or will I have my first birthday in July? I don't feel like an infant, and I've got thirty years of life experience, but if I were to go into a doctor's office, then the important information would be that I'm a twenty-five-year-old female. And, jeez, sometimes I feel like I'm acting even younger, like somehow the mismatch of hormones and personality makes me act like a teenager. Maybe the people who say age is a state of mind really have a point, and all that matters is how old I feel. Again, good luck nailing that down.
If the technology to switch people ever becomes mainstream - or, rather, when it does; even if the people with it now keep it secret, someone else will figure it out and let the genie out of the bottle - I suppose society will have to seriously rethink the whole idea of measuring someone's age. If a 70-year-old switches body with a 20-year-old, can either of them drink? Will we meet apparent teenagers on the street and have to adjust our treatment of them because there may be someone older and more experienced who commands more respect "inside". And if you go along with the idea that it's not a swap, but creating two new people from two existing people, do you consider the date of the swap their date of birth, only somehow acknowledging that they should be treated as functioning adults.
Of course, it could also smash gender roles to pieces - I can't help but remember what the guy at the biotech company Mr. K and I visited back in October said, about how male and female brain readings were opposite. In and of itself, not such a big deal, but then I think of the guy who has my original body out in Seattle, and how he made a comment about not being able to stand it in this body for very long. This is kind of a silly wild-ass guess, but what if this process - mind-switching or recombination or whatever you want to call it - only works with a male and a female? It could lead some interesting places.
Or not; maybe the very nature of it will prevent the technology from ever going mainstream, and it'll remain something for wealthy weirdos, and they'll be shunned and ridiculed even more than "conventionally" transgendered people are now. Just the existence of the technology - or, rather, the knowledge of its existence - will mean the end of verifiable identity except by extraordinarily draconian methods.
But, that's the future. Today, I just feel kind of depressed. It's my birthday and I can't celebrate it openly without explaining. Carter noticed I was sort of down despite how the whole city seems pretty psyched over the Pats winning the Super Bowl yesterday, and I just say I'm PMSing. It's even true, but doesn't explain everything.
The funny thing is how it hit me like a ton of bricks this morning - I don't think I quite realized what day it was until I ripped the last page of my page-a-day calendar. Then, huh. I've managed to be surprised by my own birthday twice in four months, which is a pretty neat trick. Then all the questions hit.
So, it passes unmarked except for this diary entry and a frosted cupcake and candle I bought at the supermarket on the way home.
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