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Gendernauts in Electronic Networks
A Journey through Trans/Gender Utopias on both Sides of the Interfaces
"To attempt to occupy a place as speaking subject within the traditional gender frame is to become complicit in the discourse which one wishes to deconstruct." (Sandy Stone).
If this is true, how can I dare to occupy a place as speaking subject in the discourse of technology and gender while at the same time looking for possibilities to transgress gender boundaries within the gendered frame of electronic networks? In my paper, I want to show that cyberfeminist theory used as a critical tool and a practice may offer possibilities to accept the challenge: to take care of some of the fatal attractions generated by the myths and realities of the new technologies and to act consciously as a 'false' complicit or better: intelligent double agent in this serious game. Starting with different readings and definitions of the term 'transgender' I would like to introduce the perspective of 'trans/gender' focussing on transgression as a continuous movement that makes use of different 'technologies of gender' including a variety of related strategies like parody and masquerade, while the same time rejecting any notion of 'passing as'. From this point of view, I want to take a closer look onto the impact of information- and communication technologies on trans/gender utopias. While these technologies are often discussed as providing new possibilities to blur and to transcend gender boundaries similar to those biotechnologies (from hormonal therapy to surgery) seem to offer for the transgender body, I would claim to chose a more critical approach. Anyway, discussing current practices of and research on the so called 'gender swapping' in MUDs and MOOs on the one hand, and theoretical as well as artistic figurations of the cyborg on the other hand, my aim is not only to point out the traps of pertinent projections and fantasies related to these fields, but at the same time to explore the promises and perspectives they might offer for trans/gender utopias as well. In this sense, Cyberfeminism will be considered not only as a pool of discoursive methods and artistic practices, but also as a useful tool and important complicit on my journey through trans/gender utopias on both sides of the interfaces.
Text: Verena Kuni

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