Through the continuing mass media exposure, transhumanism or transhumanist themes have been criticized as being “escapist” or having “contempt for the flesh.” Because of this, transhumanism is a subject panned by the American public and has even been called “the world’s most dangerous idea” by Francis Fukuyama. But has the subject been delivered to the public in the right way? When approaching the public with radical topics, such as mind uploading and immortality, that individuals may feel alienated or nervous. These feelings are the resultant of improper delivery, and require a more palatable approach than what has previously been done.
Cishumanism, like transhumanism, is based upon the enhancement of human capabilities beyond the capability of normal humans. Unlike transhumanism, cishumanism is also based upon the idea that the human body shouldn’t be enhanced without proper reason. Within the concept of cishumanism, the same technologies that are accepted by transhumanists are useful and may be required but shouldn’t be used unless needed. This could be due to their comprehension that, for such things to occur, more resources must be acquired and results in wasteful behavior. Therefore, the use of enhancement technologies should be used sparingly and on those who need it the most.
For example, the technology of replacing our limbs with mechanical analogs is readily available. Knowing this, the transhumanist hastily undergoes this replacement at the cost of his already existing limb. If a superior replacement is available, then he/she should pursue it. On the other hand, the cishumanist sees this as a necessity when he/she loses function of his/her existing arm. If his/her arm is fully functional then there is no need to replace it.
(image of Claudia Mitchell from HowStuffWorks.com)
The term “cishumanism” draws influence from cis-trans isomerism, a concept in organic chemistry, and the idea of cisgender identity. Like the cissexual, the cishumanist accepts their form as it is with no interest in changing it. That being said, neither concept should contain a negative connotation. If someone is born as a human, then it should be their choice to stay human. It is not to be seen as an antithesis to transhumanism, but rather a complementary idea that accepts the technologies accepted by transhumanism and disagrees on how often they should be used. The cishumanist believes in the idea of human identity and refuses to give it up.
Cishumanism is a concept that can be applied in certain situations. One such situation is with universal health care, where certain enhancements can be made available through medicinal means. Despite the uproar over and fallacies of Obamacare, universal healthcare is practiced in other countries and has been a successful endeavor. In the case of transhumanism, obtaining enhancements won’t be made possible through universal health care. The system won’t pay for the procedure and materials because they would be considered a frivolous expense.
For cishumanism, the enhancements would be possible in the scenario of the individual requiring them for everyday living. In the replacement arm example, the system would not pay for the transhumanist’s procedure because said person doesn’t need it and would be considered a frivolous expense. For the cishumanist, the procedure would be possible at the time he/she needed it. In this scenario, the case between what is needed and what is desired should be considered the defining factor.