When something or someone irritates me, I generally don’t dwell on it like a fedora wearing neckbeard who obsesses over that which he claims to hate. Most of us can move on from harmless but annoying (or even laughable) groups of people and not waste any of our free time writing about those people.
But on the other hand, some of these issues with the ‘kin community need to be addressed, and ranting every now and then can do us all a little good. Needless to say, the following content may be offensive, albeit that isn’t exactly my intention (unlike aforementioned neckbeards). If the following don’t apply to you, that’s great…and you’ve no reason to feel personally attacked. Not all of these are an inherent part of otherkinity, but merely commonly seen in various otherkin communities. You can definitely be otherkin without the following aspects.
Aspect 1: The names
Let’s play a drinking game and go ahead and take a shot every time you see any of the following names in those communities: Wolfie, Ash, Sky, Nox/Nyx, Sage, Faolan, Luna, Stella, Star, River, Kiro, Rain, x-paw, x-claw, blood-x, x-fang, Kita, Chaos, Shadow, Grey, Raven, x-feather, Kami, Storm, Lupus, Vix/Vixen, Aspen, Viper, Ember, Thorn, Lupa.
My guess is you’d be piss-your-pants drunk by now. And “pack” names are just as bad. The rule is basically, combine any of the following words in the edgiest or hippiest way: Solar, Lunar, Fire, Eclipse, Shadows, Lithium, Harmony, Flare, Cosmic, Crimson, Ember, Meadows, Howling, Rivers, Silver, Flames, Fangs, Storm, Mist/Misty, Jaws, Claws, Kami, Scars, Constellation, Fading/Faded, Astral, Dawn, Creek, Black, Carnal, Breeze, Moss, Forest, Light. And then simply add “pack” at the end! Or, if you’re less traditional, something like “Alliance,” or “gathering.”
Thankfully, however, I can add that a multitude of otherkin (namely older individuals) despise these wolfaboo-esque naming systems as well. But the fact that there is laughter and judgment from both sides says something (and that something is “stop.”)
Aspect 2: The aesthetics
I’m all for unique street fashion and whatever, but if it is going to be any level of unique or outlandish, it should at least be because it suits you personally…and not because your identity has a damn costume associated with it.
It’s one thing to feel connected to an animal by wearing fur or tails, but it’s another to have it be a part of your entire daily getup solely for that reason.
The community has heard the “therianthropy doesn’t have a dress-code” statement multiple times over, but the image is so ingrained into many youths minds’ that I don’t think many even care or actually believe that. At heart, therianthropy has a “look” and they want to be as ostentatiously “therian” as possible.
I’ll add that I’ve seen a lot of movement away from the teen werewolf look, which is great, but it tends to just move into the mass direction of boho. So….still monotonous and uniform. Just a different variety.
Aspect 3: What does anyone do?
A vast majority of the (visible) ‘kin community is composed of minors, so I get it in that regards. But even so, they seem to often have a borderline unhealthy attachment to their ‘kin identities in that it is their primary, or even sole, identifier. I rarely see anyone discussing life goals, other interests, jobs or careers, etc. It may very well be because these are more private aspects of their life, but they’re arguably more interesting as well. If you can spend an hour or more a day dedicated to posting kintype pictures and talking about your shifts, meditations, and connections, why not also “hey, I’ve been practicing surfing again!” posts or whatever. Where are the hobbies? The aspirations? Dreams? Etc.
I feel like many of these people have so much more potential than they realize and that they don’t need to dwell on (or prove, incessantly post about, etc) their otherkinity to feel whole or fulfilled.
Aspect 4: Ridiculously racially insensitive
Now we’re getting away from the “oh, that’s just them young teen werewolf crowds!” to more serious issues.
Never mind the fact that a very large portion of the (visible) ‘kin community is young white girls. There are also a lot of young white racists.
For starters, “cultural appropriation” just doesn’t exist, period. Not to many of these people. But then again, it’s super easy to hold that view when you’re a white girl with a Japanese ‘therian name’ like “Okami,” dreads, African-print dresses, and when your rank in The TeekonShunkaha Pack is “shaman.”
Native Americans are a proud people with a noble heritage…a noble heritage that anyone can claim.
|—Lisa Simpson, The Simpsons, season 18, ep. 12 (“Little Big Girl”)
Then when anyone dares breathe a hint of criticism, they go on “muh free speech” rants (clearly not understanding that the internet is not inherently American, nor what the true intent of the 1st Amendment is) and launch pathetic “anti-bullying” campaigns against the person who actually had the audacity to care about the opinions of POC.
Finally, when presented with evidence that racial genocides still occur, that the whole world isn’t a pure racially-equal American suburban neighborhood, that there are still stomach-turning injustices committed against POC, and that even the most well-off of POC in the United States still often have to overcome obstacles due to systematic racism, they come at you with one of two responses: a) denial proceeding blocking or b) “but I’m 1/quintrillionth POC” proceeding blocking.
Seriously, when you’re white as the moon (and probably named yourself after it), you should probably remember how hundreds of indigenous families have been slaughtered for practicing their religious ceremonies and cultural customs before calling yourself a “shaman,” “medicine woman,” or “witch doctor.” Especially since your ability to comfort your pack members over Kik chats or whatever is in no fucking way comparable to the aforementioned titles. And when you need healing, you probably do (and should) go to a hospital or therapist…not confer with packmates with an arbitrarily given rank, anyway.
Furthermore, your chances of becoming a “therian leader” or “otherkin leader” is greatly reduced if you aren’t a white emo kid or a white culture vulture.
Aspect 5: Did anyone pass their history class?
This ties directly into the above aspect because many of the potentially appropriative behaviors are justified with pseudohistory, Eurocentricism, or overall ignorance on the topic of history.
- Dreads were worn by Vikings and Celtics though! This is a commonly heard justification for dreadlocks, and it’s shoddy to say the least. Not only does this excuse fail to mention that many of “historical accounts” of dreads appearing all over Europe are a result of faulty translation/mistranslation, poor descriptors, and lack of better terminology, but there are very likely significant differences between dreadlocks and similar hairstyles of other, distinct cultures. For one, they wouldn’t have been called “dreadlocks” because that is a purely Rastafarian term. Also, “vikinganswerlady” or any other website often cited to defend their claims are hardly legitimate or historical. And this is only scraping the surface of the illegitimacy of the “European dreads” theories. But whatever, wear your hair in whatever style you want. They’re still not “dreads” if you ascribe to the historically accurate renditions of past Europeans.
- Irish people were slaves too! Honestly, this is one of the more embarrassing and desperate of the arguments. Like, ignoring the fact that being a white American doesn’t necessarily give you a free pass to everything European (namely German or Irish), Irish people experienced indentured servitude, not slavery. The difference? The Irish had a previous agreement to this work, weren’t seen as literal possessions and were eventually let go. Not as in “winning their freedom,” but as in freedom was a guaranteed part of the work. Yes, it was cruel and unfair and there was prejudice (and hatred) against Irish immigrants, but they were never taken from Ireland and sold as objects. Also, why has this ever even been brought up? This should be totally irrelevant to the ‘kin community, and yet I’ve seen it more than once.
- We all have tribal ancestors though! Yeah, true enough. But I’ve yet to encounter a mass of otherkin digging into their own ancestry to learn about their tribal pasts. There’s a reason that so much of the cultural appropriation is of American Indian tribes. No one bothers learning about anyone else or even their own pasts. It’s more convenient and exotic to generalize the cultures your ancestors more than likely took part in killing (whether directly or indirectly). But why own up to racist ancestors when you can own up to virtually pre-history human tribal ancestors in general? That seems to be a common mindset. Not that it is relevant anyway. If you’re a white American (or even European, in most cases), your “tribal history” is long-since gone. It’s literally history now. Whereas American Indians still exist. Still have tribal identifications. Still have reservations. Still have to combat systematic racism. The traditions of the tribes of the Americas are so incredibly diverse that it is a completely unjustified in ripping off a particular few and excusing it with your ancient tribal ancestors from across a fucking ocean. They’re not the same. And you’d know that if you actually cared about your own ancestry and culture, tribal or otherwise. And if you did care, you wouldn’t be naming a bunch of random strangers you’ve collected online your “therian tribe.”
Aspect 6: “Therian leaders”
This is quite the phenomenon in the (visible) ‘kin community, wherein there seem to be two types of people: Those who strive to be alphas, and those who fangirl.
“Alpha” not in the sense of those silly pack rankings, but as in this borderline obsessive and egotistic drive to be the most. Either the most reputable in terms of otherkin history/education, or the most well-known, the most followed, the most liked, the most active in the community, the oldest member of the community, the most kintypes, etc.
There are a plethora of “otherkin education” sites, pages, and blogs. Many with contradicting information or interpretations. But they all seem to be fully convinced of their infallibility. All seem to strive to be the saving grace of the community, the one who will turn the youngsters around, the one who will be the resource on otherkinity.
In addition, there are an awful lot who want to be renowned for their “otherkin aesthetic.” Where they rack up followers on Tumblr and Instagram, and friends on Facebook just for wearing tails the best, or wearing collars the best, or wearing floral skirts the best, or wearing piercings the best or having the edgiest makeup. All striving to be the face of otherkinity.
Anyone who doesn’t fall into either or both of the above tends to brown-nose those who do. Some seriously shitty people have gotten away with seriously shitty behavior for contributing so many selfies or otherkin musings to the community. People have been nearly worshiped, idolized, even basically stalked because of this innate “fangirl” position.
I guess the easiest and safest way to reach “hero” status is to join the otherkin community. Post of few selfies and few “enlightening” spiritual paragraphs about animals and you’re done! Easy.
Aspect 7: Scientific illiteracy
This is something that tends to be everywhere. Whether you’re the emo teen type otherkin, the adult-who-will-educate-everyone type of otherkin, the culture vulture type of otherkin, or the generic Pagan type of otherkin, you’ve probably been guilty of this at some point.
By far the most frequently this aspect comes into play is in regards to “proof” and justification of kintypes. First of all, that shouldn’t even be a thing. You can do some mild, harmless hypothesizing about why you’re otherkin or how dragon souls might actually exist…but leave it at that. I will tell you outright right now that you cannot justify otherkinity in the way that many people will try to. But more importantly, you don’t need to. To whom are you trying to prove your identity, and why? Stop. It’s your personality. If you want to discuss evidence in that regard because you feel like you need it to accept yourself or whatever, discuss it with a personal therapist or counselor (and no, I do not mean that in a degrading way) or maybe consider not considering yourself otherkin. Your perception of yourself doesn’t inherently require evidence.
So far, there seems to be a drastic misunderstanding of science and its relation to the existence of souls, the multiverse theory, reincarnation and law of conservation of energy, evolution in general, auras and vibrations, and neurology/neuroscience in general.
Because the otherkin community tends to an overall very spiritual or religious group, there is only so much you can expect in regards to scientific discussion. I don’t mean that insultingly, but it’s generally expected. There is, to no surprise, a lot of New Age woo bouncing around in these communities from a firm belief in healing crystals/salt lamps/furs, to naturopaths valued over real medical professionals, to reaching “higher consciousness.”
And virtually no one knows what the human mind is or how it works (outside of a quick read of a few Wiki articles, maybe). Some examples of this include baseless “theories” about the way kintypes communicate through the mind and dreams (which sort of negates the definition of otherkin anyway, but whatever), bullshit about neural oscillations being used to astral project and their relation to meditation, bullshit about quantum physics proving soul entanglement or whatever.
Basically, there is a lot of bastardization of scientific terminology and a lot of logical fallacies.
I’ve even encountered people trying to make points with MRI scans, and they very painfully clearly didn’t know how to read MRIs nor did they know how they actually function (outside of a mere definition of what they are).
Please save us the secondhand embarrassment and save the MRI scans, the electroencephalography, the astrophysics, the biochemistry, the medical advice, etc. to those who have a legitimate and thorough understanding of these things, or who can at least make valid citations. They’re not for you to prove your demonic angel soul is from another realm, they’re not for you to assert your superiority over others, they’re not for you to help others astral project, they’re overall not for you to jump to conclusions, make loose interpretations, make preposterous claims, or to promote yourself with.
If you are genuinely interested in sciences, pursue them further. Don’t use what little you do know to make false statements.
Aspect 8: The incredibly false and toxic idea that there are no “ex-kin”
The idea that “once you’re ‘kin, you’re always ‘kin” and that those who renounce otherkinity were never even otherkin to begin with basically shits all over the entire concept of an identity, and throws everything about reality out of the window.
It’s an idea that is widely held because it helps deflect criticism or theories and opinions about otherkinity that may be offensive to those who still identify with the community. This belief effectively reinforces an echo chamber.
But let’s take a look at why this idea is bullshit to begin with.
For one, there is no proof that anyone is born otherkin and there will never be. Why? Because otherkinity doesn’t have a singular defining experience or explanation. Some peoples otherkinity is purely spiritual, while others claim it is an issue of the brain. Well, no one is born with a spirituality, and claiming otherwise is asinine. If someone can go from identifying as a Christian to identifying as a Jain, then someone can just as easily stop being otherkin. Some people have reason to believe that their otherkinity is trauma based, and they weren’t born with said trauma. They might also, via medication and/or therapy subconsciously reject their otherkin identity because it is no longer ‘needed’ because they are overcoming their trauma. Were they never “real” otherkin?
Secondly, people are fluid. Sexuality can change, gender identity can change, religious beliefs can change, our sense of taste can change. Seldom is any part of the human experience truly set in stone, and otherkinity is not an exception.
If you legitimately believe that a person can live their life not paying a second thought to their gender, and then suddenly get hit with crippling gender dysphoria that lasts for years resulting in a different gender identity to what they held previously, you’re literally just wrong. Are you going to have the audacity to say “Nope. If they didn’t always identify as trans, they can’t now?” Because that’s just transphobia. Do you think its actually impossible for someone to live say 30 years of their life say gay, only to later identify as bi due to new and unexpected sexual preferences? Because, again, you’d be wrong.
You don’t have to be born x to be x, and just because you were y at one point doesn’t mean you always will be.
There is just no legitimate reasoning for this whatsoever, and certainly no evidence. All it is an extremely arbitrary and subjective idea of what “otherkin” is without any consideration of its definition.
It also brings us back to the whole “no one knows how brains work,” because if they did, they wouldn’t hold such baseless views. Your personality, identity, self perception are all a part of your brain. And if your brain changes (which it can via maturity, psychological trauma, physical damage, etc), then its likely some aspect of your personality will too. Brain damage is notorious for changing aspects of an individual. For example, my own grandfather had nasal/sinus cancer. In the process of being treated, his brain was accidentally damaged and he went from a friendly, chill, cat-loving, agnostic to a hostile, uneasy, cat-loving, devout Christian even though he was otherwise perfectly fine. He was still fully capable psychologically speaking, merely a bit different and remained that way until he died. Hell, imagine having a lobotomy. Still think you’d be otherkin after that? Would you be “faking” otherwise?
Either way, traumas or anything similar do not negate a person’s identity. Just as how a lesbian who identifies as such due to male-related trauma is no less valid than a lesbian who has simply always preferred women.
But seriously, you can fit the definition of “otherkin” perfectly and identify as nonhuman for years and even teach others about the “real, true otherkinity” and argue semantics and everything….and then later not identify that way. It is certainly possible and no one has yet to offer any valid explanation as to why it wouldn’t be.
Aspect 9: Disrespect for and appropriation of queer narratives
I’d actually say that thankfully this is nearly as bad as a problem as it could be. I mean, you have people identifying as nonhuman beings…that has so much potential to fuck over the queer community. But most otherkin I’ve encountered have been accepting, if not allies, or already part of the queer community.
But there are some significant issues that come up and cause a bit of a controversy every now and then. One instance was when Leelah Alcorn took her own life and some assholes in Tumblr’s ‘kin community jumped onto the issue with disgusting “She’s not really a martyr, she made anti-kin posts before!” which were ridiculously insensitive and misplaced.
More commonly, cis otherkin will equate their experiences to those of trans people. I’ve written before about how there may be similarities here, but that doesn’t justify equating the two. They are vastly different in very significant ways, especially since trans people face legitimate oppression and otherkin do not. It is transphobic to trivialize another group of people’s sufferings just because you feel you might relate on some level. Not to mention that a lot of trans people would disagree.
Just stay in your own spaces, cis ‘kin. Don’t even try to compare the experiences of gender and species dysphoria unless you do or have actually experienced both.
Again, it seems that a significant part of the more outlandish and offensive parts of the ‘kin community in this regards is a result of satire taken seriously or trolling (as I’ve never encountered a convincing otherkin individual who believed in adding an “O” to the queer alphabet, but I may have seen a troll suggest it once or twice in addition to the ever so obvious trollings of “Picking flowers is oppression to flowerkins,” or “I identify as a chair and use chairself pronouns!” type of tried bullshit).