Who Do We Want to Be?

If you asked him, Amos Mac would probably show you his scars. He’s done so in a YouTube video, a promo for the first issue of his magazine, Original Plumbing. His scars are from reconstructive “top surgery.” That’s when women who are in transition to become male have their breasts removed. Mac proudly names his surgeon, and he describes a new technique used in the procedure to prevent something called “dog ears.” He tracks not only the years, but also the days he’s taken testosterone as part of his transition. “Only in San Francisco,” some people might think. Perhaps. But the Bay Area might already be influencing ideas and practices surrounding gender identity across the nation and around the world. It stands to reason, considering our region is a leading innovator in technology and at the center of the so-called global village. Mac participates in a panel discussion on the idea and is interviewed by Michelle Tea tonight in The Customizable Body: The Present/Future of Identity. And it doesn’t end with gender. It’s also about the ways we identify ourselves and literally live in cyberspace, where our figurative bodies are most certainly customizable. Speaking on that is Phillip Rosedale, who founded Linden Lab and helped create the virtual world Second Life. Completing the panel is anthropologist Tom Boellstorff, whose research includes issues on sexuality, globalization, and something called cybersociality. Where we live might turn out to be a lot less important than who we are — and what we make of ourselves. Literally.
Sat., April 23, 1 p.m., 2011

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