Gender Transition

Originally published at:

So, I have received some questions and noticed some little curiosity recently about what the process of gender transition/sex reassignment looks like in the ‘verse, or since that is highly variable, in the Empire.

Well, it goes something like this – and this is the procedure and the whole of the procedure, which requires no permissions or approvals from anyone:

You pay a visit to the local branch of Novacorpora. (This will not be difficult. They’re everywhere – basically the Starbucks of bodysculpt parlors.)

You say, “I can haz new [appropriate-sex] body?”

They say, “We can haz deposit?”

You give them the 12%. (It is slightly higher in some cases – such as female-to-male, for humans – because you don’t have the relevant chromosome and they have to synthesize a compatible one. But that’s just an implementation detail.)

You stick your hand in the fancy laser-genetic-sequencing-machine when they ask you to. It goes beep, and then there’s a brief discussion (and possibly some holography) of any non-genetic features you have that you want preserved in your new body.

They ask you to come back in a week. (Unless you feel like paying over the odds for even-faster-than-regular-forced-growth cloning rates and went to a different store in the first place, but we’re assuming the default consumer version here.)

You come back a week later. They usher you into the changing room at the back, where you get to stare at an [appropriate-sex] version of you in a forced-growth tube. They cough to get your attention. You stop ogling yourself. (They laugh, and say that everyone does it the first time.)

They set up the cerebral bridge to put you into your new body. (There is a brief discussion of animus/anima/animua/animin remapping, but as you are what Earth would call a trans person, you don’t need that particular service.) You change into a medical coverall and sit down in the chair.


You wake up. By the clock on the wall, a couple of hours have passed, but right now you’re busy coughing growth-tank fluid out of your lungs. They hand you a towel. Your eyes ache in the peculiar way of eyes that have never been used before, but it soon passes. You look over at your old body, now running the Minimal Maintenance Architecture. It’s breathing, but it looks comatose.

They help you over to a chair and help you dress – well, unless you were good at guessing your new sizes and brought your own, help you dress in a fresh new set of GenericWear™. You’re hungry. Food is provided, all food you can eat with a rubber spoon, but in fairness you have to learn how to use a brand-new nervous system. There’s not enough of it, either, but they gently remind you that your digestive tract is new to all this, too.

Part of the forced-growth process involves teaching your new cerebellum how to operate, so it’s not as bad as it could be, and an hour or so of practice has you able to manipulate objects and walk around without falling over. They suggest that you wait a few days before operating heavy machinery anyway, just in case, as recommended in the pamphlet they hand you, Care and Feeding of Your New Body.

There’s a little legal paperwork to read through, details of the Identity Tribunal confirming that you are, in fact, still you and updating all the relevant records with your shiny new Body Identification Number so that all the biometric stuff in the world still works. That uses up another few minutes; the Imperial Service is efficient.

You pay at the desk. They ask you what you want done with your old body – they can ship it to cold storage for you, or put it up for resale, or arrange for biowaste disposal (i.e., euthanasia and incineration). It’s up to you – it’s still your property, even if you’re not living there any more. You ask them to keep it on site for a couple of days while you think about it. It’s not a problem.

You’re done here, so you go about your day. You catch sight of yourself in the store window as you leave. Damn, you look good.


Lest I accidentally too much Utopia, I should point out that there are at least a couple of things that would be considered “off” by present-day Earth transfolk:

A. Nomenclature. You can change the name you go by there, quite easily. (Although locally, most people just edit the ending to match their current body, that’s by no means a requirement.) However, the Empire is not at all fond of the notion of changing identity in ways that obscure the past; the way they see it, there is a compelling public interest in letting people hold Joe Blow to Joe Blow’s commitments and reputation even if she is now Jane Gust.

Thus, the way the administration works, a name is a pointer to your UCID (Universal Citizen Identifier, basically the GUID your mind was assigned when it started thinking), and your Personal File - the public portion of your Personal File - lists every name you have ever gone by.

On the other hand, you can flag a name as out of use, calling someone by a name that they’ve indicated they no longer use is considered both highly insulting and a solecism that is Not Done in polite society, and no-one’s likely to care anyway.

(And if you grew up there, you wouldn’t have grown up in the sort of miserable trauma-inflicting culture that would make you want to disassociate from your past in the first place.)

B. Gender markers. Here, it is considered controversial that you can’t change the “gender marker” on your documentation either at all, or without undergoing full reassignment surgery.

Technically the Empire is a case of the latter. However, the kicker is that routine identity documents (and anything relating specifically to the person) don’t include one in the first place. How could they - for one thing, someone could easily be walking around simultaneously in six bodies one of each taxonomically recognized sex, and what the hell use would that be? Gender markers - or more accurately “sex markers” - are attached to the body, not to the person occupying it, and since their primary usage is medical and closely related areas, they are strictly defined as expressing the relationship of the body in question to any gametes it may or may not produce, which is a matter of technical fact, not identity.

On the other hand, because their primary usage is this technical one, no-one’s ever going to see them unless they have good reason and your consent, paramedical emergencies notwithstanding, to be drilling down into your private medical records, so it’s not like it’s a public disaffirmation.

Lest I accidentally too little Utopia, incidentally, the typical response there to minors seeking this service because they feel that they should be a girl/boy rather than a boy/girl is usually along the lines of “Okay, sure. Try it out for a year, and we’ll keep your old body in storage, and if you decide you’re good with it, so are we, 'kay?”

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…I think I’d get in trouble because I’d want the really high performance version. Not quite blinged out, but definitely in the “Captain Slow is impressed” supercar territory of gender swapping.

Methinks NovaCorpora also has a out-of-the-tube add-on service where they help fork you back into your old body concurrently, if, well, you know…