Os Keyes: A Better Body Is Possible. These Anarchist Biohackers Want to Build It

Walking into “Please Try This At Home” meant walking into a conference nothing like any I’d been to before. Instead of a bright, shiny convention center, I found a community center, jammed with writing sheets and tables and food and hubbub. Instead of suited salespeople, I was surrounded by an overwhelming rush of diverse and joyous bodies. The event was a gathering of “Anarchotranshumanists, Xenofeminists, and Queer Cyborgs” who spent a weekend trying to imagine and build something better than the medical system marginalized bodies are frequently harmed by.

I often joke that there are two types of trans people: the kind who are anarchists, and the kind who haven’t tried to come out to their doctor.

It’s an over-simplification grounded in reality. The fact of the matter is that healthcare in the United States is broken by default, and it’s entirely and comprehensively fucked for anyone outside that default. For transgender people, accessing healthcare is necessarily more difficult within a system that frequently subjects trans people to gatekeeping and discrimination merely for existing. Similar barriers and disparities exist if you’re black or disabled, making the healthcare system especially perilous for people who fall into multiple boxes outside the white, cis, and able-bodied norm.

This justified mistrust of powerful biomedical institutions is what leads many trans people to autonomous and community-oriented politics, centered around the notion that we can’t trust anyone but ourselves. It’s also what led to the conference—and led me to the conference.

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