Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.
Humanity is a social construct. So is being a canine. These oppressive, Western binaries are, as Derrida smartly pointed out, not the Hegelian platform to achieve a synthesis but a hopeless chaos without resolve. Speciesism is an oppressive institution interconnected with racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, xenophobia and classism, and, thus, cannot be examined separately. And do not lecture me about biology. These petty battles about gender fluidity are only distractions created by the oppressive human institutions (mostly white and male) in order to keep the attention away from the real debate: some of us, dogs, are human. And that's that.
What do you think it makes you more human (superior) to me? Standing on your two back extremities? I can lick my own genitals at will, Einstein. I bet you wish you could do that, uh.
This morning, I got out of bed to put on a small dog tuxedo with its matching bow tie and posted a picture of myself on Instagram. We humans do that because we are attention whores. I often post selfies online and today the comments range from "nice doggie" to "is it a pet or an old lady's toy" or "Chinese would love this with soy sauce".
Later, on the street, a man standing two feet behind me yells, "don't let that fucking dog crap all over my garden!" I don't respond. I am a poet who sings, and later, after a performance, an old lady pets me and asks me where my owner is. On the train home, the people sitting opposite whisper about me, trying to surreptitiously to take pictures of me on their iPhones.
Years ago Lassie dazzled me, around the time when Air Bud was shooting hoops and that K9 film with that Belushi guy was all the rage. When internet became ubiquitous, I kept watching videos of dogs playing keyboards, opening doors, and carrying groceries from vans into the home. When I shared the video with some of my close friends, they mostly replied, "Oh, wow, that's cool." I didn't know how to tell them what I was barking internally: "This might be me!"
I was brought up in a small town, one of the five puppies of a purebred Chihuahua litter who wasn't into the business of selling pups. I spent all the time playing with my siblings. I was very solitary, though, so I had plenty of time and freedom to experiment with walking on my two back legs and learn the ways of the humans. My "identity", if you may. Later on, I was hanging out in the grassy backyard taking a piss when I found myself admiring one of the humans living at home. Am I human? I asked myself. Over the next years I watched all the movies where dogs were smart, proactive, and seemed to possess human qualities of volition, self-awareness, and heroism. I also read and participated on web forums overflowing with others who, like me, were sure about their belonging to a different species. There was a parrot who felt as a crocodile, a chimp who fashioned himself the Ayatollah Khomeini, and a member of the European Parliament who liked to be called bitched while getting spanked. I don't know if he was in the right internet forum. Anyway, after much soliloquy, I realized that behaving, dressing, acting, and relating myself to humans as a human myself did not feel quite natural. The idea itself made me cringe. Every day was more isolating that the last. Where could I find a place to exist if I didn't even feel at home within myself?
As a puppy, the only desire I had for my body was to grow a human body. Learning about the existence of heroic dogs on films allowed me to start imagining a future for myself. I endlessly watched videos, read blogs, researched the effects of surgery and hormones, and tried to piece together my identity and my future. After months of exploration, I decided I wanted to transition into a human and I broke the news to my family and the humans living with us. To help them understand, I opened up about the species dysphoria I had experienced throughout so much of my life, and I asked them to use a new name for me, and human pronouns. Most, though not all, of my close ones were understanding, and I had always the support of the human family's youngest member, a 6 year old girl who had no idea of anything but thought it was cool to have a human dog to play tea parties with her and her dolls.
After just one appointment with a species therapist with an online certificate in Critical Species Studies and Lacanian methods from the Soviet Institute of Vladivostok, I was given a deemed "human enough" and was given an invoice for $500,000. I was thrilled at the prospect of starting my transition. The next year was incredibly exciting. My barks were changing into intelligible vowels and words were starting to come out of my snout. I dropped out of canine obedience school, got a role on the Animal Planet channel, and moved to Los Angeles. Every day brought new surprises. Getting a new Yoda costume? Cool. Waking up to shoot a dog food TV commercial? Cooler. I was now dressed every day and walking on my two back legs all day long. Everything was changing so rapidly that I could barely keep up, and the fact that I still felt disconnected from my body did not help. As a result, I rarely reflected on whether or not I had made the right decision by transitioning into a human. The novelty of humanhood slipped away and I found myself slipping back into depression. Was it denial? I assumed that my identity was a done deal –that I had figured it all out.
After being on human training for some time and with the impending the surgery ready to begin the replacement of my dog parts with human ones (mostly bought from the Tijuana black market where, let's be honest, you can get whatever your heart desires), a bark in the back of my head told me to stop it all. I started a blog (this one), solely for catharsis, and for my own eyes. In the process I came out to myself as a non-binary species: someone who does not identify with either species (dog or human). It was both terrifying and freeing. What next? What would people think? I was completely on my own, unaware of how my brain would change after abandoning the whole thing.
On my first day off the transitioning process, I decided to keep my sweater but stop wearing pants and shoes. To me, this symbolized my confusion and made a statement about the current state of my identity: in flux. Rather than trying to force myself into the dog role or the human role, I allowed myself the freedom to experiment with how I look and act. Some days I would se shoes and howl something like "I love you" for Youtube videos; others, I would hump pillows and eat Doritos. I bark when I want to bark. I obey human orders when I want to. I pee where I want to pee. My existence causes dogs and people to question everything they have been taught about species, which in turn inspires them to question what they know about themselves and their pets or owners, and that scares them. Strangers are often desperate to figure out what species I am, in the hope that how I present myself holds the key to some great secret and unavoidable truth about myself and my species. It doesn't. My bark and words hold my truth. The fact that I am all covered in hair, have a wagging tail, long ears and fangs gives me the opportunity to express myself.
The expressions I use, and that other people use to refer to me, are "it", "hey you", "do not eat that!" and "who's a good boy?". These feel like sandpaper against my skin. But I have understood that there is no appropriate way to refer to me, and that I won't turn into a little Nazi bitch on how people speak, just because sometimes I decide to wear a shirt and sometimes I bark at cats. Even though it irks me, I have realized that, despite the oppression of the humanocracy, the whole fucking world doesn't have to adapt to me but I have to adapt to it in order not to end up as a street dog, without anyone to pet me, feed me, or scratch my belly.
Reactions are incredibly varied. Some people bend to my little tyrannical, self-centred will, and others just ignore me, which I feel is a way of invalidating my identity. When some random, talentless celebrity brought me to some gala, more as a decoration than out of sympathy for me, I wasn't even mentioned until some reporter asked if I was a pure breed Chihuahua and if I have had my balls cut off or not. I was pleasantly surprised that the conversation around my choice was completely irrelevant to the world to continue to spin around. However, I feel as if I am constantly defending my humanity to people who rightfully have more important things to do than to be circling around my navel the same way I do, and who frankly don't give a shit if I exist or not.
Using a public bathroom, entering restaurants, and visiting friends at hospitals require a mental script every time: "Yes, I know I look like a dog, but in my mind I am really a person". "I am here just to pee/eat/visit, please leave me alone." "I don't want to be here any more than you want me here, but there is no trans-species place in this vicinity, as it should be because, hey, the whole legislative system should cater to my whim." I often feel drained and defeated by this ordeal – the anxiety of peeing in public parks instead of bathrooms, waiting until I can't bear the pressure on my bladder any more, the discomfort that comes with using a bathroom that does not align with my species identity, all on top of the potential for harassment. For those of us who are not famous, like Lassie, the world can be a hostile place if we don't play by the rules made by humans.
Though I do experience things that most dogs will never experience, I would not trade who I am for anything. This article is, actually, quite useless but, hey, I love talking about myself and everybody noticing me whatever the cost. I am proud to have challenged what I taught to believe in order to figure out what resonates with me, and for the first time I wag my tail with pride, knowing that it is a very human tail and that my barks are akin to Whitney Houston. I look like a dog, I smell like a dog, I bark like a dog, but I am a beautiful human with big ears, hairy body, and a tail. My genetic code is none of your business, asshole.
It is important to hold a mirror to trans species, non-conforming canines to show who's really a good boy.
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This piece is a freely paraphrased spoof from some ridiculous thing I read on The Guardian. Take it as comedy or even as a homage, you twisted postmodernist quack.