What does it mean to be otherkin? How the term has lost it’s luster
Being otherkin, for most, is a small detail of just about anyone’s lives. It’s a small difference to us that usually is not put directly up front. For some, it’s spiritual, while for others, it can be a mental thing. Otherkin, in the days I first found these people, were fairly under the radar. Hardly noticed, as they were careful and wary to join public sites like these. I rememer that the twitter community was fairly quaint, though I haven’t dipped my feet in the live journal groups. I just recall that there was a sort of mellow feeling on these forums, sites, etc.
But then, I watched as the Otherkin tag on Tumblr was created. I decided I was going to give it a go. It evolved from a place putting out a great example of kin, to an area where those who would not be accepted for their fluffyness onto forums. These people put the entire community in a bad light. The Twitter otherkin community was demolished, swarmed by people laughing at and mocking what the otherkin on tumblr had been doing. It honestly broke my heart as there were many friends on twitter who I lost contact with because of the swarming of tumblrkin posts on the otherkin tag within twitter.
I feel like it’s slowly becoming the in thing. People are seeing the tag and making immediate decisions about being kin without truly searching within themselves, just so they could fit in. Lying to yourself and others about your fake identity will eventually ruin you and whatever friendships you formed around it. I cannot stress how dangerous it is to assume before you actually learn what it means to be otherkin. Not just anyone is otherkin, and it’s a very long process to sort it out yourself.
We will all have different opinions in this world. Otherkin should generally stay firm on their beliefs. But all in all, otherkin are average people. Heck, I’m as average as it gets, I’m an art student going to college, I have a few siblings, pets, and a very loving mom and dad. Not all otherkin are social justice bloggers. Not all otherkin go crazy and bark at work. Not all otherkin tell you to not refer to them as human.
I feel the one thing that has been lost as the Otherkin people moved to tumblr, is that they are rejecting their humanity. “Refer to me as a wolf” “Calling me a person is offensive, call me a being”. We must learn that we are ALL human, biologically, mentally, physically. When we lose ourselves to being otherkin, it can be very destructive. I have only seen this form of behaviour start on tumblr. Once we forget we are human, it will open the door to many, many problems within our relationships, and ourselves. We must embrace that we are humans, and in the end, it will all be worth it.
So I guess to me, what it means to be otherkin mainly is to see from the eyes within myself, rather than the eyes my shell, my body, provides. It gives me a chance to watch these strange people up close, and be able to interact with them. I feel if I were born as anything else in this age, I would be missing out. We are beautiful creatures, and we should be embracing these brains and bodies to be able to give us a chance to analyze who we are, within ourselves. And this is why I feel otherkin have lost their luster, because they are beginning to fail when it comes to realizing the beauty in this.
A Former Dragon’s Tale
Here’s the second submitted story. It’s long, but I decided to post it in full because it’s that fascinating. In this story, a former dragon talks about using therianthropy as a coping mechanism and they used the identity to explain any personal flaws. It’s worth checking out. Thank you for submitting! — Melted-Snowflake
[TW for abuse, self-harm, and embarrassing delusions]
When I was about 15 or so I stumbled upon the online otherkin community (although most of the parts I frequented tended to prefer the term ‘therianthropy’ or ‘furry’ at the time—and all of this talk of ‘multiples’ or ‘headmates’ was very rare or nonexistent). Suddenly, the way I imagine it happens for most people at a vulnerable age who feel rejected by ‘normal’ society, it clicked. I had always had a love affair with dragons. I read fantasy books by the shelf-load and sketched wings and talons on all my school notebooks. I had always felt different from my peers, had the most sublime dreams of flying, hunting, and eating like a beast, and connected deeply with more animal ways of thinking and being. This was it. Clearly, I WAS a dragon.
I cringe to admit this now. But at the time it felt so perfect.
My teen years were very, very difficult. I lived with an emotionally and physically abusive father and struggled with self-esteem issues and depression. I was beset by a sudden influx of emotions and situations that I was not prepared to cope with, and began to self-harm to try and make sense of it all or, at the very least, to make myself feel better. I was plagued by insomnia, night terrors, ennui, and a general dissatisfaction with my life.
When I ‘discovered’ my otherkin identity, everything began to change. I began to read about other people who shared my experiences and displeasure with their mundane lives, and were yearning for something more. I spoke to a very close internet friend about my new identity and, after explaining how it was to feel so different from normal human society, we discovered he was also an otherkin! How coincidental! I began to list my personal quirks and foibles in my head and discovered that every single one could somehow be related to being a dragon. Being overweight? I’m used to supporting a massive frame, of course I eat a lot! Being reticent and socially anxious? My species is solitary! The list goes on and on, in big ways and small. I began to relate everything back to being a dragon.
It felt so wonderful to have a community of people who accepted me, even when I expressed these strange, animalistic urges that I didn’t understand. I spent most of my time thinking about being a dragon, feeling my ‘phantom wings’ (yes, us ex-kin felt that too, and we felt it strongly), and wishing I could return to that idyllic state. The few friends I had fell by the wayside when I decided that they weren’t mature enough to handle my true identity. I spent most of my time talking to other otherkin on the internet and trying to draw my kin-type.
There wasn’t some single life event that snapped me out of it. I was a self-professed otherkin for about three or four years before I slowly lost interest, in the same way that a childhood book that once held so much poignant meaning looks childish and weak when you revisit it as an adult. I eventually grew out of my fantasies (even though, at the time, they were so dizzyingly powerful that they seemed the most important part of my life).
It was such a relief to discover I was free of all that exhausting bullshit. It was a burden that was lifted from my shoulders once I realized that all of those strange, alien emotions and behaviours weren’t symptomatic of some trans-species identity; they were a part of me. They were a part of this messy, unpredictable experience we call being human, and now that I don’t waste time dreaming of my powerful dragon body, I have the time and patience to explore them. Shedding my otherkin ‘identity’ meant learning how to cope with my reality. Sometimes that’s frustrating and distasteful, but learning to work through my problems is infinitely more rewarding than chalking it up to “Well I am really a dragon and that is just how we are, we will never really be able to connect with these hoomans.”
My biggest regret during my stint as an otherkin was allowing my friend to believe he was a wolf. He is now 26 and still believes he is a canine trapped in a human body. He has allowed his entire life to stagnate and languish because, instead of working towards school or career or healthy relationships, he is pining away for the lost life he’ll never have. It hurts me, and I am directly responsible.
I still relate strongly to animals. However, I do so in literary ways, artistic ways; I relate to them in metaphorical, healthy ways. I can allude to the running freedom of wolves without actually thinking I AM a wolf. I can spend weeks wondering what it is like to be a whale without coming to the conclusion that it is what I AM. I can refer to blackbirds as my poetic muse and refer to the feeling of having wings without actually believing that I am some metaphysical accident of biology. And it has made me an incredibly more stable, healthy, happy person to be able to accept every shard of me as natural, without having to foist the blame on some non-existent identity.
To all current otherkin; listen to those little voices at the back of your head. They are always there, no matter how deeply entrenched in the community you’ve become. It can be hard and a little scary to accept yourself as a human— an imperfect, flawed, messy human, but human nonetheless—but I guarantee it is worth it. I felt those pangs too. Those phantom limbs, those desires, those sudden aha! moments of clarity about your species. And I assure you, it feels so, so good to let them all go.
I’d think that ^ will only happen if people actually allowed their otherkin identities to cause enough ‘dysphoria’ as to result in dysfunction. There are perfectly normal otherkin who are productive and all, simply because of the fact that they recognise it as a part of them, perhaps part of the human experience, and not their entirety. (Heck, there are even otherkin who are living completely average lives who have embraced their humanity, without forgetting their identities as non-human. Cite: http://shadowplayanddemondays.tumblr.com/post/26030184471/true-forms-and-homeworlds-and-such) The result is that it pushes the person into further understanding of him/herself, and doesn’t end up as a fantasy/bubble reality or a coping mechanism to help cope with the anxieties of society.
Otherkinism/theriantrophy is an identity (and a very diverse one at that), and what you choose to do with that identity matters.
Sure, otherkinism/theriantrophy might be an extension of the human experience. Why can’t we embrace it like that then? Yes, you’re other, but you are also human.
“Well I am really a dragon and that is just how we are, we will never really be able to connect with these hoomans.” is always going to be fallacious. And even if that stands true, I don’t see why that calls for a need to drop the otherkin identity (which you [the ex-kin] is pushing for.) in its entirety.
I think what needs to be dropped is just the flawed reasoning (as stated in the previous paragraph) that leads to social dysfunction, e.g. using it as an excuse to growl at work, then getting fired for that and -THEN- claiming that society is full of oppression (Cite: some obscure tumblr post that I can’t be bothered to look up.)
Also, ‘Just because you didn’t turn out to be otherkin doesn’t mean everyone else in the world who identify as otherkin aren’t either.’
ON A SLIGHTLY LESS RELATED NOTE:
http://shadowplayanddemondays.tumblr.com/post/26195047259/redemption-of-a-melted-snowflake-a-former-dragons <— this probably works too.
if a ~*~dragonkin~*~ went their whole life
without ever discovering dragons
they would not feel somehow empty
or missing a piece
That’s sort of like human-nature, don’t you think?
Wanting something you do not have.
Makes me wonder whether otherkinism is an extension of the human experience or not (and if it is, it doesn’t invalidate the concept.)
21 Pictures That Will Restore Your Faith In Humanity
People aren’t always awful. Sometimes, they’re maybe even just a little bit wonderful. Here are 21 pictures to remind you of that fact .. for more click..
This Is Why I Don’t Support Otherkin
I’ve been seeing a lot of stuff on my dashboard lately that essentially says, “Support otherkin, because why not?”
Well, here’s why not:
1. It’s ridiculous.
If social justice means we lose the ability to call some identities ridiculous, we lose *all* credibility. Why the fuck would anyone listen to us about any other kind of marginalization if we agree that it’s legitimate to identify as a cow?
2. It mocks actual oppression
Otherkin are not oppressed for being (to stick with the example) cows. They are either being oppressed for having some sort of neuroatypicality (which is not okay), or they’re being oppressed for being attention-seeking assholes who have decided to play make believe in order to feel more marginalized than they are, *likely* in order to alleviate some sort of privilege-related guilt (which is not actually oppression at all.)
3. It’s speciesist
Going back to not being oppressed for being a cow (and animals are a very popular identity for otherkin)… You know why otherkin are not oppressed for being cows? Because if they were cows, not only would they not be on the internet telling us they’re cows, they would be butchered.
If someone wants to think they’re a cow/alien/dragon/chair, that’s their business. But I’m not going to say, “Please respect that individual and refer to them as a cow/alien/dragon/chair”, unless someone can give me an actual reason for why I should. But I haven’t heard one yet. All I’ve heard is “What’s the harm?”
Well, I think it’s only a bad thing if you have a community that coddles beliefs to the extend of absurdity. It’s fine if people can actually deal with it in a socially functional manner, instead of, as you’ve said ‘play make believe’ and attention-seek.
There is some validity in identity, after all, but that doesn’t mean it makes the person more functional/sane or helps them. What they choose to do with their identity will dictate how people judge them and their identity.
I’m sort of with you on this. Identities are fine unless they start hurting the person (whether knowingly or not) and/or the community and its reputation. That’s when people will have to take action, but only to the individuals causing the harm, and not the entire community as a whole.
Oh look, the dragon sadz.
Now and then, I find the tumblr otherkin community utterly distasteful. At first glance, I thought it was clever and interesting to talk about otherkin/therianthropy in terms of identity, rights, visibility. But now, I just shake my head. It’s so infected. And when someone can say “I don’t need to…
I am a dragon.
I don’t have a past life. My ‘phantom limbs’ are mental limbs, mental constructs I purposely imagine up because I want them there.
I identify because of some [apparantly] intrinsic connection and desire to be one. So in a sense, I still remain human, and am not really a dragon, but because of this base connection to them, I am effectively one (I know, it doesn’t make sense. Okay.); since you know, this isn’t a facade or anything. This is me and who I am intrinsically (at least it appears so).
Think of it as being a scalie off the deep end minus the porn and all that.
< v >
I am one of many. And the belief system is highly individualistic. I might disagree with some people, but I respect their choices, as absurd as they might be (unless they harm the community or themselves.)
Noise. You are a wonderful person.
I don’t believe that the claims of fictives or fictionkin are legitimate
Otherkin.com, everyone. http://shadowplayanddemondays.tumblr.com/post/25819297786/no-im-dirty-dan
Oh no! My folly has been revealed to all of Tumblr! Truly, I am petrified of the enormous backlash that is about destroy the very fabric of my life! My soul will be tossed upon the seas of despair, with no possible hope for the kind touch of shore!
I don’t have to respect anyone who acts like a complete idiot. If my lack of respect invalidates your identity you may want to take a deeper look at yourself. Why does my opinion matter to who you are? It dosen’t, just like your opinion dosen’t matter to my identity. There are plenty of kin out…
I like you. Except for the fact that you’re leaving (the otherkin tag) :c
Don’t. People need new ideas and seriousness here.
Of course though, don’t hastily generalize because you’ll leave open people out.
Stay please? :c
Probably the most stupid argument in favor of otherkin is the multiverse argument.
Like, “quantum physics says that there may be other universes and I’m a dragon in one of those universes”
It’s obvious that people who use that argument never read or heard about Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle.
I like you. c: The multiverse argument is absurd and can’t constitute evidence.
ALTHOUGH, I have no idea what this has to do with the Heisenberg uncertainty principle.
If anything, you could have said that possibility does not equate evidence/proof. Much better than just throwing a bunch of terms around hoping that people will think you’re sophisticated or something. Although, if you do know what you’re talking about, do explain to me.
If not, enjoy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=noZWLPpj3to [Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle by scishow (There are references too! WOW! How credible!)]
PS: You could always extend this to the people who think they’re naruto, too. (At least the ones who use the infinite/multiple universe argument anyway.)
< v >
I think I’ve finally figured out why I don’t like the term “sane otherkin”.
It’s putting the validity of someone’s identity on how well they can act and present themselves.
Which is complete bullshit. Not everyone can be 100% presentable all the time, and even if someone seems a bit..off.
Their identity is still fucking valid.
Whether or not someone accepts your identity is not about how polite you can be behave or how “sane” you can act.
Respecting identities is one of the standards for being a decent person, and something that is not predicated on how polite said person is.
You seem to be implying that people who judge whether otherkin are sane or not base it on their presentability. Obviously that is flawed, though lack of presentability and general lack of knowledge of proper syntax can point to the fact that the person might be delusional.
In one 2011 British psychology paper, which used what appeared to be an epidemiological study. There was actually a strong correlation found between common mental disorders and low IQ. Their presentability might serve to hint at possible reasons for wanting to go delusional or end up being or reacting in denial, which are conditions that can lead to insane beliefs and or propositions.
Sure, their identities can be valid, unless of course they start claiming to be fictional characters or start forcing people to ‘BOW DOWN TO [THEM] BECAUSE [THEY] ARE 10,000 YEAR OLD DRAGON GODS’ or start hallucinating that they’re mates with Saphira II and crap. Or worse still, start thinking they’re Loki or Karkat or John or whatever.
Presentability and general demeanor only serve as indicators for further probing. Only when we find that they’re making baseless claims do we start wondering whether otherkin are insane or not.
EDIT: Due to the wonderful response this post is getting. I’d like to remind you that the British Psychology Paper’s results are RESULTS and not a result of MY OPINION.
ALSO: It would be WONDERFUL~ to note that the point I’m trying to make is
LOW IQ => Higher risk for mental disorder
Mental Disorder => LOW IQ.
People didn’t get that? Seriously?
Oh look, another paper: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.2044-8260.2011.02023.x/abstract
“Previous studies indicate that low IQ is a substantial risk factor for developing mental health problems.”
A psychological view of things
I like this.
This article lays out an intelligent argument for the psychological development of therianthropy, and while it focuses more on that, it can be applied to otherkin as well.
I tried to get to the bottom of the #otherkin tag today; gave up after half an hour holding the ‘End’ key down. Fun.
Seems like its my time to begin storming tumblr. Maybe I should try #non-human next. Lots of material to work with.