“I try to tell myself that it’s a machine, but it doesn’t help”

Negotiating notions of being human in transhumansexual relationships between humans and hubots in the Swedish TV series Real Humans


  • Johan Hallqvist Umeå University




Äkta människor, Science Fiction, humanonormativity, citizenship, gender, sexuality


The Swedish sci-fi drama TV series Real Humans (original title in Swedish: Äkta människor) can be viewed as a playground for trying out imagined possible future human-robot relationships that can tell us something regarding ideas about possible futures for being human. In the paper, representations of ttranshumansexual relationships are explored, specifically how these representations reproduce and possibly challenge notions of being human. Three articulations of transhumansexual relationships are identified: authenticity, legal subjectivity, and failure of heterosexuality. The negotiations of being human take place in three different discourses – a heteronormative and humanonormative discourse on gender and sexuality, a biological discourse, and a citizenship discourse. Transhumansexuals and hubots in transhumansexual relationships are humanized – anthropomorphized – and made more intelligible as human(-like) beings. However, the quest to make transhumansexual relationships intelligible as something human tends to (hetero- and humano-)normalize the queer potential of transhumansexual relationships




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How to Cite

Hallqvist, J. (2022) “‘I try to tell myself that it’s a machine, but it doesn’t help’: Negotiating notions of being human in transhumansexual relationships between humans and hubots in the Swedish TV series Real Humans”, Culture Unbound, 13(2), pp. 133–154. doi: 10.3384/cu.1330.