A visiting scholar at the University of Arizona claimed he identifies as a hippopotamus in a recently published article in an academic journal.
Writing in the Journal of Theoretical Humanities, University of Arizona visiting scholar Florentin Félix Morin argued that his hippo alter-ego has allowed him to navigate the world free from the constraints that “govern human bodies.”
This article explores the formation of a tranimal, hippopotamus alter-ego. Confronting transgender with transpecies, the author claims that his hippopotamus “identity” allowed him to (verbally) escape, all at once, several sets of categorization that govern human bodies (“gender,” “sexuality,” age). He starts with an account of how his metaphorical hippo-self is collectively produced and performed, distinguishing the subjective, the intersubjective and the social. The article then investigates the politics of equating transgender and transpecies, critically examining the question of the inclusion of “xenogenders” in the trans political movement.
In the article, Morin claims that while he understands that he is not actually a hippopotamus, his theoretical exercise of being transspecies, or “tranimal,” provided him comfort as he came to terms with his real-life transgenderism.
“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,” Morin writes. “In a surprising, sometimes overwhelming way I find comfort in this collectively performed animal identity.”
“I find comfort in this collectively performed animal identity,” Morin continues. “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.”
On the University of Arizona’s website, Morin is touted as an exciting addition to the institution’s LGBT Studies program.
Florentin Félix Morin is a French student who just started his PhD this year at Université Paris 8. He works at the intersection of Trans Studies and Animal Studies, focusing on tranimal body modifications, practices and subjectivities. He is beyond excited to be in Tucson for the Spring semester, benefit from all the department’s and the Institute’s activities, conduct fieldwork in the US, and meet everyone! (He uses the name ‘Felix’ in English.)
Tom Ciccotta is a libertarian who writes about economics and higher education for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @tciccotta or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org