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In November 2019, Paul B. Preciado was invited to speak in front of 3,500 psychoanalysts at the École de la Cause Freudienne’s annual conference in Paris. Standing up in front of the profession for whom he is a ‘mentally ill person’ suffering from ‘gender dysphoria’, Preciado draws inspiration in his lecture from Kafka’s ‘A Report to an Academy’, in which a monkey tells an assembly of scientists that human subjectivity is a cage comparable to one made of metal bars. Demonstrating the discipline’s complicity with the ideology of sex, gender and sexual difference dating back to the colonial era, Preciado was heckled and booed and unable to finish. The lecture, filmed on smartphones, ended up published online, where fragments were transcribed, translated and published with no regard for exactitude. Eighteen months on, Can the Monster Speak? is published in a definitive translation for the first time.

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Uranus, the frozen giant, is the coldest planet in the solar system as well as a deity in Greek mythology. It is also the inspiration for uranism, a concept coined by the writer Karl Heinrich Ulrich in 1864 to define the “third sex” and the rights of those who “love differently.” Following Ulrich, Paul B. Preciado dreams of an apartment on Uranus where he might live beyond existing power, gender and racial strictures invented by modernity. “My trans condition is a new form of uranism,” he writes. “I am not a man. I am not a woman. I am not heterosexual. I am not homosexual. I am not bisexual. I am a dissident of the gender-sex binary system. I am the multiplicity of the cosmos trapped in a binary political and epistemological system, shouting in front of you. I am a uranist confined inside the limits of technoscientific capitalism.” This book recounts Preciado's transformation from Beatriz into Paul B., but it is not only an account of gender transitioning. Preciado also considers political, cultural, and sexual transition, reflecting on issues that range from the rise of neo-fascism in Europe to the technological appropriation of the uterus, from the harassment of trans children to the role museums might play in the cultural revolution to come. An Apartment on Uranus is a bold, transgressive, and necessary book.

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