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Otherkin: The trans community you probably didn’t know existed

The concept of a person identifying their gender outside of the sex they were assigned at birth, a state of being known as transgendered, is hardly news.  But I’d venture a guess that many of you aren’t aware that there is a different type of trans community on the rise, a group that believe that they were not only born into the wrong gender, but the wrong species entirely.

These are the Otherkin.

“An otherkin is a being born into the wrong body. Not just with the wrong parts, but as the wrong species: people who identify as otherkin believe that they are a wolves, or elves, or really any kind of being, born into a human body”

And while the trans-species Otherkin have been around for over 30 years, a new generation of Internet users are commandeering social media outlets to raise awareness for their perceived condition and insert themselves into discussions of identity politics and social justice.

Tumblr, a microblogging website, has provided a platform for Otherkin to establish a community based on shared perspectives and trials they associate with forced confinement to a human body. Oftentimes, these struggles are marked by oppression at the hands of human peers and parents. Being forced to ‘act human’ by societal standards is considered active oppression of their true identity.

On the subject of being forced to celebrate Christmas with her family, Nala, a self-proclaimed cat Otherkin, blogged, “I wish they would just understand that I am a cat. All I want to do tonight is curl up on the top of my bookshelf and sleep. Instead they’re making me open presents that completely disregard my species’ needs…God, I wish they would just accept me for who I am and stop trying to make me into a human like them.”

From an Otherkin perspective, the injustice they experience is very real and deserving of recognition.  As expected, this has sparked backlash from historically marginalized groups that feel that these outlandish claims are making a mockery of legitimate efforts towards social justice and progressive strides in identity politics.

In defense of her community, Nala wrote, “Otherkin are just as much ‘trans’ as transgendered, transethnic, transbodied, and transaged people. I am not invalidating their struggles, however it’s wrong to simplify my identity as an Otherkin by refusing to accept the fact that we too, are in the wrong bodies.”

Unsurprisingly, the eccentricity of the Otherkin culture has drawn morbid curiosity, particularly that of popular websites like Reddit and 4chan. As a result, Otherkin exposure continues to grow. Regardless of the nature of this publicity, the Otherkin are raising awareness for their plight and making an active (albeit futile) effort to legitimize their community.

Posted by on February 15, 2013. Filed under Around Campus. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.