Florentin Félix Morin is, apparently, a visiting scholar at the University of Arizona. Morin, who is French, started his PhD last year at Université Paris 8, and wrote a piece for the academic Journal of Theoretical Humanities in which he claims to identify as a hippopotamus. He avers that his hippo alter-ego has allowed him to navigate the world free from the constraints that “govern human bodies,” such as gender, sexuality, and age.
In the article, Morin says he understands that he is not actually a hippopotamus, but that his theoretical exercise of being transspecies, or “tranimal,” gave him comfort while he was coming to terms with his real-life transgenderism. He wrote, “Let me put it this way: something about being a hippo makes me feel cute, confident, sexy, and safe. I discovered that another self was available for me: being a hippo means that I don’t have to be a boy or a girl, a child or an adult, normal or strange.”
Morin continued: “I do strongly love when my friends call me ‘hippo,’ refer to my ‘paws,’ and pretend that they see no difference between me and one of my stuffed hippopotamuses, except that I’m a little bigger than most of them.”
He added: “Unlike the somewhat checkered, locked-down, and policed space of transgender, the space of transspecies remained open, as it is not scripted yet.” Who among us could argue with that? I mean, transgenderism is becoming a somewhat stuffy, traditional, constraining, antediluvian concept, is it not? It’s time to push the boundaries a little! They said space was the final frontier, but “they” were wrong. Think of the possibilities that exist for each of us now that we have finally recognized that we can literally be anyone- or anything- we want to be, allowing us to escape traditional modalities and moralities!
The University recently denied that Morin was associated with it in any way, despite its website announcement of January 20th, 2017, in which it welcomed him to the school’s Gender and Women’s Studies Department. The announcement touted him as an exciting addition to the school’s LGBT program, saying that he “works at the intersection of Trans Studies and Animal Studies, focusing on ‘tranimal’ body modifications, practices and subjectivities.”
And, while he does use male pronouns, Morin says he enjoys correcting people who refer to him as a guy: “When someone…calls me a ‘goofy guy’ I correct them by saying ‘you mean a goofy hippopotamus.’” He does this, he says, in an attempt to “intervene” in what other people “imagine to be my gender.”
Morin concludes by averring that self-identifying as a hippopotamus is “a political form of resistance to the (trans)gender policing of my body,” and that being a hippo is “the most precious gift that was ever given.”
Morin is either insane, or one clever man/hippopotamus, drawing us all into his exquisite deceit, illustrating absurdity by being absurd.
Care to place your bets?
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