The Worst, Most Annoying Aspects of The Otherkin Community

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.

For example,

  • 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).

 

Identity: Gender…and species?

Regardless of whether you are in favor of social progression or not, transgender individuals and the overall concept of identity has reached more publicity than it has it the recent past. As with any marginalized group gaining more representation, there has been backlash such as protests over keeping certain people out of restrooms.

Some people are tired of hearing about what they have deemed “political correctness” and the “social justice warriors” that encourage it. Largely due to the fact that within a few years, people have gone from being encouraged to accept concepts sexualities like bisexuality, to being encouraged to support the existence of multiple genders. And now, presumably, people are being encouraged to support the existence of “otherkin,” those who do not identify as human.

This concept has also been erroneously referred to as “trans-species” and has been speculated by some  many to have originated on the blogging website Tumblr as a means to discredit or mock transgender identities. While this is verifiably false, and I will go into more detail on that further on, there are some issues present regarding the rights of transgender people and the existence of ‘otherkin.’

The first issue is that many people, otherkin or otherwise, often equate and compare the two, and falsely so. This has only caused not only more backlash against trans people, but also against otherkin themselves. Otherkin or not, we cannot ignore that a transgender and an otherkin identity have significant differences.  This is true even if they do manage to have some similarities.

One of the most significant differences between the two is that transgender identities are serious. They are relevant. Sure the definition of “gender” may be vague to some and debated (unnecessarily), but all in all genders are a human thing. A person can have an actual gender. If someone walks up to you and says “I am a man,” they are a man. Simple enough.

This is not the case with species. Species is an entirely physical thing, with no misunderstandings or cultural implications that prove otherwise. If a person walks up to you and says “I am a frog,” it is likely going to leave you confused.

Gender is relevant. It involves everyday life: Pronouns, dating, legal documents, etc.

There are no additional species you can add to your drivers license. There are no pronouns that correspond to species.

Furthermore, transgender identities can concern medical issues, and are practical. It makes sense to transition if you are transgender and you choose to do so.

You cannot transition to another species. This would not in any way ever make sense. Transitioning to another species is completely impossible insofar as modern science goes, and would likely end badly 99.9999% of the time even if it were possible. If you changed species, you would drastically alter your daily life, more so than anything else would. You likely would not be able to survive at all, having been raised as a human. You would not likely be accepted by other members of the species that were born into that species. And you would likely wreak havoc on the local ecosystem. If we should not even release pet store-bought feeder crickets into a lawn, then there is absolutely no way releasing humans-turned animals into the wild to live as a completely different species would ever be condoned.

Other significant differences to consider are the experiences of the two. Otherkinity does not have a uniform experience that goes with it, nor does it have a set reasoning behind it. While the cause of gender dysphoria is largely unknown, there is no set experience of otherkinity for which to search for a cause. A person can be otherkin for reasons ranging from psychology to spirituality to family traditions. There is no singular thing that could cause an identity that has such diverse explanation behind it, unless otherkinity itself was broken down into smaller groups and rationalized that way.

One misunderstanding with the experiences is with that of dysphoria. While it is true that many people experience gender dysphoria and many otherkin experience species dysphoria, it is important to realize that species dysphoria as a concept and as an experience is not ultimately tied to otherkinity. Many people who identify as otherkin for psychological reasons cite species dysphoria as an explanation. However, many otherkin who identify they way they do often experience species dysphoria but do not use it as the reasoning for their identity, but instead use a spiritual explanation. And then there are those spiritual otherkin who do not experience dysphoria at all, as well as psychological otherkin who do not experience dysphoria. To make matters more complicated, there are those who experience species dysphoria but do not associate with otherkinity in any way.

 

“NO, the difference is that transgender people are real and otherkin are a joke. THAT’S the difference!” 

Now I am sure someone who has stumbled across this has thought something along the lines of the above quote. So now I will clarify on the history and ‘reality’ of otherkin.

For starters, denying the existence of something just because you do not “believe” in it does not make it go away. I do not believe in Christianity, yet Christians still exist. I do not believe in reincarnation, but that does not change the fact that there are people out there actually considering themselves to be a fox in a human body because of it. Whether or not you respect a group of people or believe in the reasoning behind their identity, they will still exist and continue to perceive themselves in the way that they do. You could say “otherkin identities are not logical,” but not everyone is logical, and being illogical does not make you disappear entirely.

As far as otherkin literally being a joke, this is a completely false assumption made by those who do not bother looking into things that bother them. Otherkin did not pop up by some ‘troll’ on Tumblr to make fun of transgender people.

The modern otherkin community has its roots loosely in a neo-Pagan group known as The Elf Queen’s Daughters, which was established before the mid 1970s. From there, another neo-Pagan group known as The Silver Elves arose, which directly influenced the existence of the modern otherkin community. All of this was happening long before the existence of Tumblr and the unfortunately widespread ‘hobby’ of “internet trolling.” From these groups of people, who largely identified as humanoid mythological creatures for spiritual purposes, came two separate groups of those with nonhuman identities: In 1994, therianthropes, those who identify as nonhuman Earthly animals; and draconites/draconics, those who identify as dragons came about. As of the last half decade or so, however, those who identify as dragons are simply referred to as “otherkin,” “dragonkin,” or “mythkin,” and those who identify as real animals are referred to as “therians.” The modern otherkin community was initially largely spiritual, but has since included many more of those who consider their identity to be psychological, philosophical, or experiential.

All in all, otherkin were completely unrelated to transgender issues (as the should have been) until their presence on Tumblr, wherein the assumption that they were the joke of a transphobe popped up, and when younger, ignorant individuals began solidifying this assumption by actually calling themselves “trans-species,” and/or callously equating the two when they discovered the concept on Tumblr alone. In addition to this, unsurprisingly, many pseudo-otherkin accounts were created by others specifically with the intent on making otherkin into a transphobic joke, hence the presence of “toastkin” or “chairkin” Tumblr accounts and the phrase “sexually identify as” often accompanying those identities, along with ‘nounself’ pronouns like “che/chairs/chairself.” Whether or not these people aim to simply discredit otherkin or to further transphobia, they are certainly neither real nor relevant to actual gender identities or otherkinity.

 

“Actually, neither are real. There’s no proof, so there actually is no difference!” 

…And I am sure someone reading this has probably thought this as well.

This goes back to the fact that disrespect or dislike for, or disbelief in someone or something does not mean it does not exist.

That aside, identities are not necessarily something that can be proven or disproved. If someone legitimately sees themselves a certain way, no amount of not believing them will change their self-perception. The causes and explanations for an identity, however, are another story…sort of. For example, if someone identifies as a dragon because they believe in an alternate universe where they are a dragon and their soul (or whatever) got switched with that universe’s version of themselves, that may very well be disproved by science one day. If we gain scientific evidence that shows there is only one universe, we will know this person’s logic behind their dragon identity is invalid. If we gain scientific evidence that souls and any variation thereof does not have any physical existence whatsoever, we will know that an identity reasoned with reincarnation is using an invalid explanation. Certain explanations for self-perceptions and identities can be false. If someone says “I am a wolf because my mother was a wolf,” this is clearly biologically impossible and therefore not a valid explanation for why they see themselves or consider themselves the way they do. This is more likely to be a delusion rather than a reason or explanation.

The above quote also follows the logic that despite there being reason for believing in something’s existence, it does not truly exist until confirmed with scientific evidence. This is irrational. If we followed this logic, we would have to insist that no human had ever experienced love up until oxytocin and/or vasopressin were discovered (and we were made aware of their role in human relationships). But considering the fact that pair-bonding ceremonies have existed for centuries in various cultures, that many of us humans seem to be so fond of monogamy, that mothers have not been murdering their infants left and right for no reason, that love poems and courting have been around for centuries, that we cry when our family members die….all of these things and more have suggested the existence of love. Regardless of how well it was understood scientifically and regardless of the fact that it, in and of itself, was not considered to have any singular physical or visual existence. It was known to exist because we experienced it and people documented it. Perhaps someone who has never been in love would have no reason to believe that it existed at all, if it were not for others recounting their own experiences.

Experiences that may or may not explain an identity can be the same way. There may not be a singular, solid scientific explanation for gender dysphoria  yet, but this does not mean that it does not exist at all. The fact that there have been suicides due to some peoples inability to cope with gender dysphoria, the fact that many therapists and psychologists diagnose people with it, the fact that concept of “transgender” has existed in multiple variations throughout history in a variety of cultures, the fact that in around 30BC Philo of Alexandria described it, and many more occurrences and situations all repeatedly suggest that gender dysphoria does exist whether or not we can explain why.

Species dysphoria, understandably, is more complicated. It makes sense for it to be a much less commonly experienced phenomenon. However, the fact that there are a plethora of individuals who have been documented to have reported this experience for decades suggests it is a real experience. Lying on the internet is one thing, creating a satire account to further your own opinions on a group of people is another…but these things do not persist for entire lifetimes. That “toastkin” Tumblr account is a Tumblr thing only, and will be active for at most…three years? But these otherkin who have reported these feelings to their family members since youth, these otherkin who have confided in therapists about it, these otherkin who still experience it after having identified the way they do for decades are not simply making it up for ‘shits and giggles.’ It is not a joke to them. It is a real part of their real life that they deal with. And yes, these people exist. Looking for young otherkin on Tumblr will only ever find you young otherkin on Tumblr. Only looking for Tumblrkin (or fake otherkin accounts created by trolls) will only ever find you Tumblrkin. Otherkin exist off of Tumblr, though because I have stated before that these identities are irrelevant socially and not legally serious, many otherkin stay away from mentioning their identities on social media because they have virtually no reason to. Those who do tend to stray away from Tumblr for obvious reasons, especially those who have been in the communities longer and are older.

In regards to the identity without the experience of dysphoria, again, there cannot exactly be proof to begin with. These identities can be akin to an opinion of one’s self, a feeling, and yet again, self-perception. These things do not require “proof.” If you feel ugly, you feel ugly but you may not be aware of the psychological and cultural reasons as to why as soon as you feel ugly. If you look in the mirror and think “Eww, I am ugly” you are likely not thinking “How unfortunate is it that due to human biology we are hardwired to find symmetrical faces appealing, and mine is slightly lopsided. I am ugly!” If you perceive yourself to be a funny person, you do not necessarily need proof. Of course some people may disagree with you, just as many people disagree with the logic behind an otherkin identity, but you may still think of yourself as funny nonetheless…just as otherkin will proceed to be otherkin despite people disagreeing with the logic behind it.

 

Overall, when it comes to otherkinity, keep your knee-jerk reactions private. Otherkin know they are not literally  not human. In the definition of otherkin itself (“Identifying as nonhuman being on a metaphysical, integral level for reasons other than delusion”) it clarifies this. In fact, many otherkin reject the idea that otherkin identify as nonhuman, but that they have a nonhuman identity within their human one. They do not reject humanity. In any case, there is no need for a “otherkin rights” movement, there are no petitions to add a different species to legal documents, there are no species pronouns anyone is asking you to learn, they are not asking to get away with socially unacceptable behaviors, they are not even asking you to acknowledge otherkinity, and there is no otherkin pride parade. There is nothing, because it is unimportant, insignificant, and irrelevant to you. Acting like it is a big deal is what makes it a big deal.

 

Being otherkin essentially does not matter. Your gender does.

 

A related musing can be read here.

The Irony of “Otherkin”

Let it be known that I am by no means intending to personally offend anyone by my opinion on this matter, as I know that as of late, it has become a bit of a controversial issue.

Let me begin by both defining and laying out the history of “Otherkin:” This concept, now familiar among Youtube and Tumblr communities alike, probably began in a modern sense in the 1970s when a group of individuals known as “The Silver Elves” came (at least publicly) about. Obviously, these individuals identified as a sort of being known as “Elves” (albeit, after researching this microculture, it appears that they have appropriated the term and have a rather new definition attached to it. They do not align with the concept of elves from either Norse mythology or Scandinavian legend) rather than regular humans. Either way, a community of those who identified as nonhuman, or more than human, in relation to mythology sprang up. It wasn’t until the 90s, however, that a member known as Torin of Elfinkind Digest specified “Otherkin” could be used as an umbrella term for those identifying as elves as well as other mythological beings. Over time, “Otherkin” has been used to describe anyone identifying metaphysically or nonphysically as nonhuman. It then can be narrowed down to include those who identify on a nonphysical level as Earthly animals who currently do or have existed. Those who identify as such were traditionally known as “weres,” as in, “weretiger” or “werewolf.” This led to confusion, however, because some individuals identified as the cryptid known as “werewolf” and others as just normal wolves. To avoid confusion, most of those to identify specifically as actual animals began describing themselves as “therianthropes” which roughly translates into “part man, part beast.” This term is usually shortened to “therian.” Those to identify as otherkin are also further classified as “spiritual” or “psychological” to indicate the reasoning behind their identity. Spiritual reasons can include things such as reincarnation and spiritual guides, whereas psychological reasons can include things like imprintation and neurology. There are also many more classifications not worthy of mentioning here.

Needless to say, many people have been offended by the concept of otherkin or simply find it culturally unusual enough to find amusement in the ridicule of such individuals.

Either way, the irony comes into play (both for those identifying as otherkin, and those ridiculing or criticizing who are) when one realises just how normal the concept of otherkin truly is. In other words, it’s a very human concept, and not only because it clearly has to be (any concept we create will be a human concept, because we are all human) but because it embraces what it actually means to be human. To clarify, let us look at some characteristics that make us Homo sapiens stand out from other members of our kingdom Animalia.

  • Spirituality and religion: It is well-known amongst us that we are the only animals capable of forming the concept of religion.
  • Imagination: This ties into the “religion” aspect. Our capacity for imagining also gave us an advantage over other human species, who lacked vivid imagination or imagination entirely.
  • Art: Music, theatrics, body modification, paintings, etc. This, too, ties into the “imagination” aspect, and, the spirituality concept as well.
  • Lack of instinct. We are animals that learn by example…and we don’t particularly have a choice, either. While we do, of course, have reflexes and common sense, we do not have instinct (a behaviour all members of a species has, without being taught, and retains this behaviour. Such as, a specific bird species building a specific kind of nest, even if it has been isolated from other members of its species since birth). Most of what we know to be natural has actually been taught to us.

Otherkinity is a prime example of what it means to be human: Spirituality, imagination, and the observation of other species applied to oneself are all inherently human. It may not be culturally normal in modern-day 1st world countries, but concepts much like it have existed since prehistory and similar concepts still thrive in many tribal cultures. This makes it ironic for those claiming it to be outlandish and new, and also for those identifying as nonhuman. Because identifying as a species other than your own, especially for spiritual reasons, is certainly a very human thing to do. Only the complexity of our human brains could allow for such an identity. Though other species can experience imprintation on different species, as well. I’m not saying this invalidates arguments “against” otherkin identities or the identity itself, but merely an amusing realisation.

The majority of those to harshly criticize otherkin typically find more fault in those identifying as mythological beings, rather than therians, who identify as animals. I, however, find otherkinity to be more logical than therianthropy, in some sense.

Humans created dragons, elves, mermaids, fae, centaurs, etc. While some individuals may truly believe in the physical existence of such beings, I will write this from a secular perspective, and consider them solely beings of myth. As such, they are man-made. We defined these beings to be a certain way, and, no doubt, using human characteristics to do so. Imagine the concept of an”evil demon.” This nonhuman entity, for example purposes, is defined as being malevolent and prohibited, and fond of the night. A normal human being could easily fit that criteria, and thus, consider itself, rightfully, an “evil demon.” Therefore, it makes sense to associate with these symbols of human characteristics. Maybe a dragon does have a physical existence, but this existence can only take a human form. Of course, this causes one to question what it inherently means to be a dragon. Even though certain things otherkin can experience, such as supernumerary limbs create a new reason for the separate identity of nonhuman, rather than just a type of human, which many mythological beings can be used to represent.

Therianthropy is a different story. Other animals are known to exist. We can observe them for what they really are, and how they really exist and interact. We may have labeled these animals with words such as “bear” or “baissista,” but we did not create or define them how we chose. Regardless of cultural symbolism, animals will act their nature even if they are uplifted from their natural habitat and placed elsewhere, or occurred in an area with relatively different cultures (and therefore observable by a different culture that might apply a new symbolism to the animal.) For example, in Shoshone mythology, the wolf is associated with creation, yet in Norse mythology, wolves are often associated with battle and chaos. But regardless of these cultural symbolisms, a wolf is still just a canid that has a basic family unit, hunts in groups, howls for communication, etc. So, why identify as something that you have physical, observable evidence that you truly aren’t? We can see that wolves are outside of our own species. Elves and other mythological beings, on the other hand, are our own creation, and we can apply them to ourselves (culturally variable) as we please. This, of course, is assuming the therian in question does not identify as such for spiritual purposes, because this incorporates culture, or our man-made concepts, rather than natural reality. This really interests me in the psychology behind a therian or otherkin identity that is not spiritual in nature.

I have personally seen that for many individuals, therianthropy is misplaced primalism. One may have the urge to hunt, to run and play, to dwell outside, disregard cultural norms, roll in dirt, etc. and because of our domesticated society’s disdain on anything wild, these feelings are considered altogether inhuman. This causes individuals with primal urges to feel that there must be something different about them, and causes them to identify as nonhuman. Yet in reality, these urges are entirely normal for humans to experience. We are still animals, despite civilization. And some humans still are wild. It is only because of domesticated society have we associated primalism with being completely other than human, which is a saddening realisation. Therianthropy, in this case, is mere confusion and isolation. Feeling so out-of-place in a domesticated society that you no longer identify with your own species, but with another…one you know you can never truly be. Of course this is not always the case, and there are many other factors in a therian identity, but I have seen this to apply to quite a few people.

In conclusion, I find both the criticism and the identity of “otherkin” to be somewhat ironic. Otherkin, when associating with myth, seems quite romantic, while therianthropy, on the other hand, can be rather lonely and a sign of how out of touch our species is with nature. Albeit there are many factors in an identity to consider, and I am by no means placing these identities or the criticisms of them in a box.