I’ve often been fascinated with the concept of time capsules. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Wikipedia (as of this writing, anyway) defines a time capsule as this:
“A historic cache of goods or information, usually intended as a method of communication with future people and to help future archaeologists, anthropologists or historians.”
The earliest I can recall hearing about a real life time capsule was when I was 11 years old and we stayed at home watching TV due to a school snow day. A local TV station, during their midday news, aired features on a time capsule they buried on their grounds 20 years earlier. The capsule was unearthed and its emptied contents featured on the newscast. The contents were simple, really, including messages from future generations from station management and local dignitaries as well as some personal effects and “messages to the future” from viewers. A few years later, my home town buried a time capsule as part of their centennial celebration, to be opened at the time of their sesquicentennial. Here in Madison, we have two (by my count) time capsules to be opened in the mid-21st century, including one inside the Overture Center performing arts center that will be opened on Madison’s bicentennial in 2056. (I watched a live broadcast of the latter capsule’s burial ceremony online; a thrilling yet sentimental occasion for sure.)
What NASA did in 1977 can be seen as equal to burying a time capsule; that year, NASA launched into deep space two Voyager spacecraft which contain phonograph records of sounds, images, and messages from Planet Earth. The intention — and hope — was for some form of intelligent life in the great reaches of the cosmos to discover it, see the images, listen to the music and message, and gain an idea of how life was on our Big Blue Dot at the time it was sent out (and to rock out to “Johnny B. Goode,” which was America’s contribution to the musical recording).
I bring up all this because Daily Post put up this hypothetical in their writing prompt on Wednesday: Suppose NASA was in the process of building a new Voyager probe that would include “the best of modern human culture,” and we, the populace of WordPress, were in charge of loading up this new “time capsule to the stars.” What would we put in there?
When thinking about what I would want to have included, I came across information about plaques that NASA placed on board the Pioneer space probes earlier in the 1970s, a few years before Voyager and its contents were launched. The plaque featured naked images of a male and a female, which drew some negative reactions for being, well, naked. Seems to me those who raised a stink over nude figures never appreciated the beauty of Greek statuary. Odds are, too, they’ve probably never appreciated the LGBT community. So, what I would include would be LGBT-themed in nature, especially the “T” (trans) part. The first thing I would include would be this:
Yep, my rainbow pride flag. It’s okay, I can always purchase another one. I’ve always thought of a rainbow as a sign of hope, beauty, and optimism — traits that I believe also reflect the LGBT community as a whole. Whether you’re gay, bi, trans, or just a simple old crossdresser like me, you can’t say we’re not a diverse group. Hopefully the intelligent life out there can see this flag and can comprehend how diverse the human race is. We’re not all puritanical, but we’re all people.
While a rainbow flag is, understandably, a universal symbol, I’d still want to include a personal artifact. So, I’d go out on a limb and include photos of both my male and female selves; I’d also throw in both of my outfits in those photos, and even my wig. Yeah, as closeted as I have been most my life, this would indeed be a daring feat for me. But the way I figure it, some life form from some distant planet would be pretty understanding.
And included in with all that stuff, I’d also want to include a message to those life forms out there, explaining the type of person I (and we) are as well as a word or two of peace and hope. I mean, if the President of the United States and the head of the United Nations were able to include written messages on Voyager, why couldn’t a common person like me? Perhaps my message could go something like this:
Greetings to you! Sorry this message is in English and not your native language (I don’t know a hint of Martian or Neptunian or even Orkan), but I want to tell you about myself, and the type of human being I represent. You’ve probably seen those photos of a nerdy male and a somewhat stunning female from the capsule. Both of those humans are me. While you’ve probably seen the other photos of standard human males and females, not all of us humans conveniently fit into a set-in-stone gender binary.
Yes, we humans may have come out of the womb as male or female, but some of us present ourselves as or display traits of the other gender. The clothing artifacts you see with my photos are some of the items I use to represent the gender I choose to display: Male clothing for when I want to present myself as a human female, female clothing and wig for presenting myself as female. Such an arrangement categorizes me as a crossdresser in the human culture. Other humans also interchange clothing to present themselves as a certain gender or even identity, or even interchange clothes even when not presenting themselves as the opposite gender, but that is what makes them unique in their own way — just as I am unique in mine.
When we humans present ourselves or identify as the gender we are not assigned as, we are considered transgender. Some of us who are transgender live as their unassigned gender — i.e. the gender they feel they truly are — on a full-time basis, while other transgender people can exhibit gender traits that are non-binary — a “blurring of the lines” as some of us call it.
Whichever gender we transgender humans ourselves as, we share something with other humans who regularly present themselves as their assigned gender: We are all human beings. Sadly, transgender humans don’t always receive the support and respect we deserve and need. Despite all that, I am hopeful that transgender humans will slowly but surely receive the respect from our fellow human beings; love and respect can be elusive human emotions, but they are ones that lift the spirits of every human being.
Hopefully if you read this, you and your fellow life forms have an understanding or sympathy of transgender humans and humans in general. Perhaps one day, our planets and cultures can bridge this “vast and awesome universe” and unite in mutual goodwill, harmony, and understanding. Until then, please examine the entire contents of our spaceship. Take time, too, to examine the contents I have deposited. These items are only from one human being, but they represent a truly awesome portion of human culture, and an amazing one at that.
Gee, after a write-up like that, perhaps I should leave this here on Earth; some here on this planet would certainly take heed to these words and wishes of understanding. Well, maybe I can leave a copy here and load the original onto Voyager. The whole universe would benefit from a little bit of understanding.
So, what would YOU load onto that spaceship? Feel free to share below. And thanks!