Do cyborgs have rights? Cyborgs are trans species that are part human and part machine. Cyborg artist Manel De Aguas was let go from his job because he wears his self-made “Weather Fins.” These new fin-shaped organs allow the artist to listen through implants on both sides of his head to the variations in temperature, humidity, and atmospheric pressure in his environment. An extra sense that attunes him to the environment more than humans.
He started developing these enhancements in 2017 at the Cyborg Foundation where he began to design and install prototypes daily. In 2020, De Aguas traveled to Japan and installed the latest version of the “Weather Fins” that would allow him to transmit the sound from the fins to his skull. Currently, the fins are not permanently implanted, but Manel wants them to be in the future.
On May 22, 2022, the international day of biological diversity that celebrates trans species and cyborgs, the artist wore the implants when going to work. The company asked him to remove them, as he was apparently not allowed to wear visible cybernetic organs on his body while working. When he refused, they sent him home.
Manel argues that not allowing visible cybernetic organs was a violation of his identity integrity; the organs did not prevent him from doing his job, the same as a piercing or a tattoo. Unfortunately, Manel was laid off after he came in with the implants the next day.
Today, the law does not yet protect people with new visible organs from discrimination or employment exclusion. This is just one example of the struggles of cyborgs and trans species. Although Neil Harbisson was the first person in the world to become a government-recognized cyborg. He was born grayscale colorblind and now has an antenna implanted into his brain that translates color into sounds. It’s early days for cyborg rights, but we will likely see more of them in the future, as humans merge more and more with technology.