by Kris Schnee
Text ©2007 Kris Schnee; illustration ©2007 Cubist
You may already be a transhumanist.
A certain segment of the fandomjudging from experience but not hard databelieves itself to be something other than human. This belief can be a religious one, as with people who follow an animal totem or nature religion, or secular, as with otherkin whove become convinced theyre in some sense really werewolves or dragons. The not human idea also applies to people having whats been called species dysphoria, the belief that they should have been born as something else. And then there are people who simply want to be inhuman, whether their ideal is an immortal superman or a cartoon fox.
Strangely, all these aspects of the furry subculturewhich includes a lot of people not in the above categoriestie in with another movement, transhumanism. Transhumanists believe that people can and should use advanced technology to overcome human limits, including physical handicaps, disease and even aging.  Part of transhumanism is morphological freedom, the idea of making it physically, practically and legally possible for people to alter their own bodies. There are several ways someone in the furry set might be receptive to transhumanism:
Finally, I can reveal my true form as a divine wolf! Or secularly: I wish I were a male fox, and soon I will be. Or more subtly: Id like to become unaging, immune to disease, and maybe superintelligent. Since that requires replacing most of my body anyway, Id like one thats cute and fuzzy, with a tail.
So, some portion of the fandom qualifies as part of the transhumanist movement. (Those who dont want to be included should remember furries tendency to label Disney movies and Egyptian gods as furry!) The overlap suggests that the two groups might benefit from closer contact. Transhumanism could use the explosively creative furry movement to liven up an otherwise sterile ideology, finding new ways to express it, while anthro fans looking for serious discussion with their Wile E. Coyote cartoons can find some deep thoughts and new ideas among the transhumanists. What of the people who are only involved in furry fandom because they like the art or its their only chance to play nerdy card games? This crossover is relevant even to them, because its part of the larger discussion of technology and its role in societysomething important to the young, educated people who make up much of the fandom.
In a way, transhumanism is an expression of a standard anthropomorphics fantasy: A world that will have furry people in it, among other strange things. More generally it shows both pessimism and optimism about the human race. Its the idea that although human nature as we know it just isnt well-suited to getting along in a crowded, complex society, people can be improved. Sickness and other problems that we accept as a necessary part of life can be fought. They are not wonderful things that make life meaningful; they are problems to be solved. Transhumanism is also about the technologies that could improve billions of livesthings like genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics/artificial intelligence (GNR). These same technologies, because of their potential dangers, scare the hell out of some people.  By developing these technologies, are we creating monsters/subjugating humanity/defying Gods will, as the critics fear, or becoming better than we are?
Anthropomorphic otters enter this issue at its heart. A recurring criticism of transhumanism is that it will lead to a widening gap between rich and poor (as with metalworking and antibiotics), with the worlds rich becoming immortals while the poor continue to beg for anti-malarial bed nets. Even vaccination, a centuries-old technology, is a form of body modification to enhance human abilitiesand is not widely available in some parts of the world.  The visceral reaction that some people have to this danger is sadism; the desire to ban advanced technologies so that everyone will suffer, on the theory that equality is sometimes better than prosperity.  This issue of technology splitting people into genetically distinct tribes, and the resulting conflicts, should sound familiarits a recurring theme in furry fiction! Look at the stories about furry characters trying to adapt to a world built for humans, or about fighting between species, or the politics of people wanting to change themselves and being called monsters for it. The fear, alienation and violence that show up in our fiction are similar to what might come about in the real world, even if the post-humans wont necessarily sport bushy tails. By discussing the problems that will arise if there are soon multiple intelligent races on Earth, the fandom helps to immunize the world against some of those problems.
So, there is substantial overlap between the furry subculture and the goals of the transhumanist movement. Even for those who neither feel compelled to become skunk-people nor think itd be a fringe benefit to a larger upgrade, the link between these movements is important. The goals and claims of transhumanism are ones that could greatly affect us all, and furrys place in science fiction allows it to serve as a metaphor, even a conscience for an ongoing debate about what it means to be human. Because of these relationships, these two groups would benefit from greater contact.
And transhumanists, you may already be furries.
 See, eg, the World Transhumanist Association.
 For a notorious critique of these technologies, see Bill Joys article in Wired, "Why the future doesn't need us. Or for a similar and bloodier view, the Unabombers Manifesto, which argues that It would be better to dump the whole stinking system [of technology] and take the consequences of gigadeath than suffer the societal angst of allowing genetic engineering.
 The Gates Foundation has contributed hundreds of millions of dollars towards researching this and related problems.
 See John Rawls A Theory of Justice. Ayn Rand had a field day with it.