Rich Lee, a pioneer in biohacking, is suffering the worst fate a parent can take. His ex-wife has separated him from his two kids.
They’re fine, but his ex is over Lee’s transhumanist exploits. She submitted a legal request to cut him out, based on his experiments with biohacking. It’s the first case of anti-transhumanism.
When we last talked about Rich Lee, it was in this piece: True Body Hacker; Rich Lee Will Have A Vibrating… Bodypart. He was attempting to augment his reality with a vibrating penis.
Lee’s case may be the first case of legal action biased against an individual within his legal rights to hack his biology, but it won’t be the last time we hear about this.
This is only the first, but it may set a precedent. Rich Lee is such a well-known figure this battle will draw this issue out into the light, calling out the prejudice behind it.
Grinders and biohackers are transhumanists, but transhumanists are not necessarily grinders or biohackers. Rich Lee is all three. He’s also a dad [read: normal dude].
In case you don’t know him, Rich Lee is one of the names that comes up when people start talking about any of the three categories above. He’s implanted magnets in his fingertips and ears, the first one mostly for fun, but the second to listen to music without headphones.
He’s also hacked his vision, albeit it temporarily, to see with night vision.
Lee stumbled into transhumanism when he became disillusioned with our progress toward improving the human experience.
“I was upset at futurism,” he told Fusion.net. “All these predictions just never came true.”
So, he started with himself.
The most recent hack, when he tried to make armored shin guards didn’t work, but it was after Lee announced his intentions for reproductive augmentation that we learned of his ex-wife’s attack.
To be fair to Lee’s ex, if being fair to her were fair, there are dangers with hacking one’s biology.
“He has gotten several implants this past year and they are increasingly more invasive and dangerous,” reads the motion from his ex-wife. “It also concerns me that he is dismissive of the impact his self-surgeries have on the children. He posts them on social media and YouTube; our kids can easily access either.”
Infections caused by botched procedures could fester and become deadly. Lee’s bionic-shin implants were a good example. The surgery site ripped open, forcing him to rip them from his body one night.
That was enough for Lee’s ex. She messaged him that night to say he would not see the kids anymore.
One could lobby that this gruesome event might disturb a child or that untreated Lee’s wounds could have killed him in time. Death would have, of course, taken a lot of time, but it’s possible.
The same could be true of plastic surgery, even when performed by a licensed clinic. Her concern begs the question: are there any precedents for parent custody based on one parent who’s obsessed with plastic surgery? The next one is, does Lee’s lifestyle indicate an obsession?
History shows that humans react to almost anything new with fear and repulsion at first.
We’ve done this with people of different ethnic backgrounds than our own, different affectional orientations, and scientific ideas that challenge our beliefs. I’m looking at you climate-change-deniers.
What Lee is, however, is a leader and inspiration to many. In a world where too many of us wait for someone else to lead, Lee’s taken up a mantle.
He’s not only an inspiration to grinders, but to his kids. Regarding his passion, he told Fusion.net:
“…my kids have always been really proud of it.”
From the perspective of a rugged individual, it’s easy to agree with his philosophy. On the GoFundMe page he started to raise funds for a lawyer, he lobbies:
“I strongly believe that one’s body is theirs to do what they want…”
From a glance this story might sound bizarre to someone outside the world of biohacking, but the heart of it is simple.
Rich Lee is a man who many people look up to, whose ex-wife claims she’s taking away his kids because of his dangerous hobby.
If she wins this fight, the message to their kids is loud and clear: we don’t have individual rights to our bodies. We all lose.
As of this writing, Lee’s raised almost $8,000 on an $11,000 goal.