Poll

How do you feel when therians (or Otherkin) compare their therianthropy to being transgender?

It is OK/does not bother me.
It is OK with reservations. Please elaborate below.
It is not OK with reservations.  Please elaborate below.
It is not OK.

Author Topic: Comparing Therianthropy to Being Transgender for Illustrative Purposes  (Read 8670 times)

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Shang

I didn't know where to put this so I put it under spirituality.  I am well aware not all therians or Otherkin believe it is spiritual in nature.
Before you answer the poll, please read this post because it will help describe things better.

Some of you may have encountered the term "therianthropy" before and some may have not.  This also goes for the terms "Otherkin" and "therian".  So I am going to give you the standard definitions soon along with an explanation as to why I am creating this poll. 

I am also aware that many people do not believe that therianthropy is possible.  I would ask you to be kind in your words because therianthropy is very real to many people, including (possibly) some people on this site. 

Okay, so on to the definitions:

Therian: A person who identifies intrinsically in some way as a non-human animal. 

Otherkin: A person who identifies intrinsically in some way as a non-human entity.

Therianthropy: The state of being a person who is, feels, or believes he/she in in part or whole (non-physically) one or more non-human animals on an integral, personal level. [From the page linked below.]

(For more elaborate definitions please see the Terms & Definitions page by Project Shift.)

Now that the definitions are out of the way, here is why I am posting this poll:

Some therians and Otherkin have a hard time expressing how they feel in regards to therianthropy so they will say it is like being <transgender> except that instead of it being their gender that doesn't match their body, it's the species that doesn't match the body.  They often do this because it has to deal with personal identity, except therianthropy is dealing with species identity while transgender is dealing with gender identity.

Many therians also report experiencing some form of dysphoria in regards to their internal identity not matching their physical body.  This dysphoria is often described in the same exact way that the dysphoria many transgender people describe.  The dysphoria that therians have, just like the dysphoria that many trans people report, can cause severe depression even to the point of suicide or contemplating suicide.

None will say it is the exact same as being transgender because it isn't the exact same, but the basics are the same:  having an internal identity that doesn't fit their physical body.  As a result, some therians will say that being a therian is a bit like being transgender in that the internal identity does not match the outer body and that they experience some side effects such as dysphoria over their body.

So, my question to you is:

How do you feel when someone compares therianthropy to being transgender for illustrative purposes? 

(I would also like to add that a few people on Werelist would like to know the results of this poll.  Your names will not be given out and neither will anything personal be given out.  Just how many people checked the little box next an answer.)
« Last Edit: April 08, 2012, 11:42:32 pm by Lynn Gabriel »

Offline Sephirah

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I don't see a problem with it.

I used to know someone dealing with therianthropy, although we haven't spoken in a long time. Some of the feelings he exhibited, and the things he used to talk about with regard to the way he felt, left me in no doubt that this was something genuine he was struggling with. And a lot of his feelings, especially over dysphoria and interactions during day-to-day life, somewhat mirrored my own.

At the end of the day, I feel that they're both just terms. Words that have had to be invented to explain feelings and experiences. That some of these feelings and experiences are shared, with regard to gender or species, seems only natural since we all have one thing in common: namely that whoever or whatever we feel we are internally, we're not that externally.

That's my two cents anyway.

Shang

Thank you for answering so quickly!

I agree with you wholeheartedly. 

I am a member of the Otherkin community, but I am also transgender.  I do not suffer dysphoria caused by being Otherkin, at least not all that much, but my dysphoria can be very strong in regards to my being transgender.  But, just because I don't experience dysphoria for being Otherkin, doesn't mean others don't.  I have seen and heard of too many people who have really bad issues in regards to being Otherkin though most can make it through life without engaging in detrimental activities (at least from my observations).

I understand needing to use a more established term to help describe what one is feeling, particularly when what one is feeling involves an internal identity.

Offline Edge

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I put I am ok with reservations for two reasons.
1. Social reason: I am aware of how ridiculous I sound. While I am real to me, I am aware that I'm not to other people. Other people, however, know that they themselves are real. So, understandably, if I were to compare myself who they don't believe in to themselves who they know are real, they would quite possibly be upset and then attack me. I don't feel like getting attacked. Did that make any sense or did it sound like word salad?
2. Personal reason: My theory about why I feel non-human makes sense. I have no idea why I feel genderfluid. Well, it would make sense to be genderfluid if I really am not human, but that is scientifically impossible.
Oh in case this isn't evident, I don't feel human. I feel like a polymorph. I do like humans quite a lot. I did not choose to feel to this way and it has been confirmed by professionals that I do not have a chemical imbalance.

Ash

Hi therian here.
I also wouldn't have a problem with it. I have felt slight "species dysphoria" but a lot more gender dysphoria. Although the concepts are different I find at the end of the day it is the same feeling- of not being me and not having people see me as me. I also have a friend who is otherkin and she has really strong dysphoria and I can completely relate to it.

Offline BlueSloth

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Edge, that made sense.

Compared to being transgender, therianthropy is weirder, less well studied, and much harder to explain.  In fact it's really not the sort of thing I've ever wanted to believe in (although I kinda have to, since I'm a therian myself  :embarrassed:).  I can understand why it could be politically bad to compare therianthropy and being transgender.... but I don't like thinking politically since I care about honesty too much.

I like the metaphor, but I think it's important to point out it's limitations.  It's biologically and genetically impossible for therianthropy to be exactly equivalent to being transgender.  I've never heard of a therian who never had any human mental characteristics and abilities at all, and you're never going to find non-human brain structures in a therian's head.  So, therianthropy doesn't get as "extreme" as being transgender can get, but the fact that it makes people feel like a completely different species makes up for that, I think.  They can both end up causing similar feelings and problems for people.

By the way, I didn't vote in the poll because I think the point is to see what the opinions of non-therians are.. right?

And I hope coming out as a therian here doesn't cause any problems for me  :(

Offline peky

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Facinating! I wonder if there are cases of identification with veggies or rocks ?

I think I would be a Cougar, a Persimon, an Opal.

Ms. OBrien

I see no problem with it.  I am a Transsexual (MTF) and Lycan.  Which makes me a She-Wolf.  Howllllllllll!

Shang

To those who elaborated further:

Do you mind if I share your posts with the people on Werelist?  If not, it's all right. :)

Facinating! I wonder if there are cases of identification with veggies or rocks ?

I think I would be a Cougar, a Persimon, an Opal.

I've known "plant-kin" in that they identified inwardly as some sort of plant.  Psychologically speaking, someone can identify as just about anything.  It only becomes negative when the identification is detrimental to a healthy life (such as if their behavior becomes erratic).

@ Edge:  That made my plenty of sense. :)

I identify as polymorph critter.  I'd be happy to share you my essay on the matter, if you'd like.

@ BlueSloth:  Go ahead and answer the poll. :)  It's for everyone on here, therians and Otherkin included because even they have differing opinions on the matter.

I've been out on here about being Otherkin since pretty much the get-go.  It hasn't caused any problems and I've actually seen a few Otherkin running around on here, including the person who introduced me to this site and isn't shy about talking of his Otherkin identity. :)

From what I see, the majority of people on here are fairly polite and open-minded to at least being a psychological or spiritual possibility. 

@ Ms. OBrien:  I'd never have thought that of you. xD  But it's because you look normal.  The few Otherkin I've seen pictures of/have met in person have been...odd, hahahaha.

Offline BlueSloth

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Do you mind if I share your posts with the people on Werelist?  If not, it's all right. :)
Go ahead and share mine.  I said something I've been thinking about saying there anyway :)

I've known "plant-kin" in that they identified inwardly as some sort of plant.  Psychologically speaking, someone can identify as just about anything.  It only becomes negative when the identification is detrimental to a healthy life (such as if their behavior becomes erratic).
Yeah... it's still hard to understand how somebody can feel like something that doesn't feel, but apparently it happens.

@ BlueSloth:  Go ahead and answer the poll. :)  It's for everyone on here, therians and Otherkin included because even they have differing opinions on the matter.
Oh, ok.

From what I see, the majority of people on here are fairly polite and open-minded to at least being a psychological or spiritual possibility. 
yay!  ;D

Offline Edge

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Re: Comparing Therianthropy to Being Transgender for Illustrative Purposes
« Reply #10 on: April 09, 2012, 07:43:14 am »
@ Edge:  That made my plenty of sense. :)

I identify as polymorph critter.  I'd be happy to share you my essay on the matter, if you'd like.
Cool. What do you mean by "critter?" I'm one the "energy beings," but I prefer not to go into detail.
@ Ms. OBrien:  I'd never have thought that of you. xD  But it's because you look normal.  The few Otherkin I've seen pictures of/have met in person have been...odd, hahahaha.
Hey! Haha. Yeah, some people are... odd...
Never met any plants or rocks, but I have met someone who claimed to be a combine. Sadly, this wasn't as odd as others I've met.
Sorry. I'm a skeptic. It took several years of self hatred and exploring the possibility of being insane before I could accept that I feel the way I do.
Go ahead and share it.

Shang

Re: Comparing Therianthropy to Being Transgender for Illustrative Purposes
« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2012, 10:14:39 am »
Cool. What do you mean by "critter?" I'm one the "energy beings," but I prefer not to go into detail.Hey! Haha. Yeah, some people are... odd...
Never met any plants or rocks, but I have met someone who claimed to be a combine. Sadly, this wasn't as odd as others I've met.
Sorry. I'm a skeptic. It took several years of self hatred and exploring the possibility of being insane before I could accept that I feel the way I do.
Go ahead and share it.

I'm so sorry I didn't answer sooner!  I identify as a psychopomp.

It's all right, some skepticism is good.  The Otherkin that come off as more sane seem to have a healthy amount of skepticism.

--also bumps thread for more votes--

Offline Sephirah

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Re: Comparing Therianthropy to Being Transgender for Illustrative Purposes
« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2012, 10:18:50 am »
To those who elaborated further:
Do you mind if I share your posts with the people on Werelist?  If not, it's all right. :)

Go ahead :)


Offline Zoidberg

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Re: Comparing Therianthropy to Being Transgender for Illustrative Purposes
« Reply #14 on: April 26, 2012, 01:43:20 pm »
I actually am uncomfortable with therians and otherkin describing their identities like that. Perhaps it's because out of all the therians and otherkin I know (and I know a decent amount from another forum I belong to) do not experience dysphoria in the same way that I (and many other trans folks I know) do.
This is also based off of my own experience identifying as both a therian and a transguy. My species dysphoria has never gone beyond feeling a little blue that I don't have a tail. My gender dysphoria has gotten to the point where I don't feel like it's worth living if I can't make the insides match the outsides. I have actually contemplated suicide because of my gender dysphoria, whereas species dysphoria can be quelled with simple distraction techniques.
Perhaps there are therians and otherkin out there who experience cross-species feelings to the point that it severely impacts every aspect of their life, but to my knowledge this doesn't happen. Maybe I'm wrong here, but I feel like claiming that being transgender and being a therian or otherkin are similar does a disservice to both communities.

I hope my comments don't cause any offense, this is just how I feel on the topic. Feel free to convince me otherwise.

Shang

Re: Comparing Therianthropy to Being Transgender for Illustrative Purposes
« Reply #15 on: April 26, 2012, 02:10:07 pm »
I understand, troyboi.  I was generally in the same boat, but I do know (in real life and online [through many different sites, I'm on several Otherkin and therian sites]) many therians who have such species dysphoria that they have contemplated suicide and that they are severely depressed (sometimes to the point of not being able to function) because of having a body that doesn't correspond with their internal identity.  Most therians, at least on the more scientific minded forums and on forums that promote critical thinking, say that it affects their lives prominently and in all aspects.  Someone who is a prominent figure within the therian community has said that since they were a kid they had to learn to wear the mask of being human internally in order to be a functional member of society, but internally their identification is not human and that they often have to struggle to fight the urges that are more natural to them.  The same member also views their therianthropy as being neurobiological in nature, but acknowledges that (currently) no one knows what causes therianthropy because of the lack of scientific studies.

I have also experienced dysphoria in regards to being therian that has caused me to become rather down though its growing less of a problem for me as I realize that there is no help for me to ever remotely obtain a body that would reflect my kin-type.  It's pretty similar to how I deal with my gender dysphoria:  there is no way for me to make my outside match my inside and accepting this has prevented too much depression in regards to dysphoria.  I experience dysphoria on both fronts, but it's no longer severe. 

(Bear with me, I'm trying to figure out how to word the next portion so it may not make sense.)

Since you said that you don't feel they should be compared because one causes more dysphoria than the other, then how does that relate to transgender people who do not suffer debilitating dysphoria or do not contemplate suicide related to them being transgender?  Would that make the transgender person's feelings less valid than a transgender person who does experience severe depression due to dysphoria?  What if a therian experiences more dysphoria in regards to the body than a transgender person does?

How I see it, some transgender people experience extreme dysphoria while others do not.  This also occurs within the therian community;  some therians experience severe depression due to their outsides not matching their insides while other therians do not.  Both groups have internal identities that do not match their external bodies and both groups can experience dysphoria related to the conflict. 

So, sometimes the experiences of both communities are the same its just that one involves gender and the other involves species.  Yes, the experiences are also different which is why many therians only say that they are like the transgender community in that they have an internal identity that is different than their external body and that they, too, can also have dysphoria in varying degrees.  Most will not say that the communities are the same, but that some of the experiences are the same and some of the feelings are the same.  Most will only use the metaphor until the therian community becomes more known and there has been more research done and that people recognize that therianthropy is something real and that it affects the lives of the people who genuinely experience therianthropy even if they do not experience severe dysphoria.

My own therianthropy affects every aspect of my life just like my gender identity does, but (as I said earlier) I do not suffer extreme dysphoria.  It all tinges my outlook on life and my experiences in life because it is all me.   I fail to see how an internal identity can not affect how a person views life and how they move through life.

Offline Edge

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Re: Comparing Therianthropy to Being Transgender for Illustrative Purposes
« Reply #16 on: April 26, 2012, 08:18:32 pm »
I was the opposite. Being otherkin caused me extreme dysphoria and contributed greatly to my depression as a teenager. I do feel it affects every aspect of my life. It's fundamental to who I am. I really do feel like I fake being human (and I'm not very good at it).
Meanwhile, I had strong feelings about my gender only twice during my teens (including 18-19) which is... confusing... I do have dysphoria now, but I've gotten more used to it.
The way I see it, my body is like an outfit I can't take off without killing myself. I love life too much to give it up and I like being here, therefore I am grateful to my body for letting me be here.
Edit: That said, if there was a way for my body to be the way it's supposed to be and I could still exist here, then I would take it in less than a heartbeat.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2012, 08:58:36 am by Edge »

Offline BlueSloth

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Re: Comparing Therianthropy to Being Transgender for Illustrative Purposes
« Reply #17 on: April 28, 2012, 01:32:04 am »
The way I see it, my body is like an outfit I can't take off without killing myself. I love life too much to give it up and I like being here, therefore I am grateful to my body for letting me be here.
Sometimes I read something and can personally relate so well that it really hits me emotionally.  That's one of those things.

Although, in my case, if physical transitioning was possible for therians and I had the chance to do it, I'd think about it logically and decide not to.  I'm sort of the therian equivalent of genderfluid, so a permanent transition isn't going to help much.  It also means I sort of get a break from the dysphoria sometimes, but when it's bad it's really bad.

But some therians would give anything to transition and never look back.

Offline Chrontius

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Re: Comparing Therianthropy to Being Transgender for Illustrative Purposes
« Reply #18 on: April 02, 2013, 03:11:19 am »
http://hplusmagazine.com/2010/11/28/total-gender-change-within-decade/

First off, I waited until it was no longer April Fools' Day to post that.  I may have ended up sending the wrong message that way.  ;D

Second off,
Quote from:  troyboi
Perhaps there are therians and otherkin out there who experience cross-species feelings to the point that it severely impacts every aspect of their life, but to my knowledge this doesn't happen.
I've mellowed out considerably, but I had it bad in high school.  If by "severely impacts every aspect of [my] life" as in "I spent my college years studying biology for a reason, and it wasn't getting rich peddling viagra", well... yes.  It kind of does.  And I'm not alone in that pursuit, though it's a bit of a rarefied field at the moment.  However, working with a broader transhumanist community, I think we can get some pretty cool things done in the next decade or two. 

Offline Janna

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It's really nice to see a few people post things here that are a little similar to my experience.  Below, I will summarize my own experience of being species and gender dysphoric.

Around age 11, I developed a severe longing to be a dragon.  I had no idea why, and there was no internet back then so I had no support.  I think I told my parents but they were just confused by it.  It depressed me severely but after about a year I learned to just stop myself from thinking about it because there was nothing I could do to change my body.  I didn't stop being sad about it sometimes, but it became a manageable species dysphoria.  Even now, ~30 years later, I would still choose to be a dragon if I could, no matter the social consequences.

My ideal dragon form back then was hermaphroditic.  Over the years I played males and females but I may have settled on a primary male form primarily because when I finally met others like myself online, one of them claimed they were related to me in a male form in a past life.  I only got them to admit that was probably wishful thinking like 20 years later.  Grrr.

I remained gender fluid online, but whenever I wondered if I might prefer to be a female human I shut down that thought process because I didn't need more pain and dysphoria.  Being both the wrong species and gender would be too tragic.

At first, I tried to convince myself that since my body was wrong anyway, gender didn't matter.  So I took a male mate.  After a few years I kept longing for female companionship.

Finally, I met and married a dragoness.  I was really happy for a year or two, but over time I realized she was essentially the male in the relationship while my behavior was feminine.  In fact, she'd wanted to be male from a young age.

The fact I hadn't noticed gender dysphoria at a young age was another reason I never seriously considered gender transition. I now theorize it could have been there, but the species dysphoria was stronger.  Then I learned to just stop wishing to change my body, so both conditions were masked.  I also now know that gender dysphoria isn't a strong thing with every trans person in the first place.  I think "gender euphoria" when feeling you've got the right gender is more universal.

Another reason I didn't consider transitioning was that playing female online was usually mildly uncomfortable.  I felt like a fraud and was nervous that people would be mad at me.  So I made it clear in my profile I was male IRL.  This meant I had all superficial encounters and that I wasn't feeling feminine.  On the other paw, when I switched to female with someone I was already close to in male form, it always felt amazing.  That should have been a clue.

In my late 30s, I finally went online as a female character without saying anything about my RL gender.  People treated me differently and I had a lot more fun.  For the first time, I didn't mind being the center of attention or performing in front of a virtual audience.

Then I met a dragon who was looking for someone to roleplay a particular dragoness character he'd invented.  I offered to play that character and he agreed, but procrastinated.  I thought the problem was him having guessed my RL gender, so I tried making a new character to use to make him think I was a new person.  Then I chickened out because I can't stand deceiving people.

Two years later, I went online with the dragoness I created for him.  I met him and he agreed to let me play that character.  The roleplay quickly took a direction we hadn't intended but it felt to both of us like the characters were in control.  This dragoness began to feel real to me, and I began to fall in love with my roleplay partner.

Weeks later, as he pushed for more details of me IRL, I decided we couldn't be in love with me lying to him.  I told him who I was, let myself cry while waiting for his response, and he said it didn't matter.

Being a dragoness in love was the happiest experience of my life.  It convinced me I had to know what it would be like to be a female human as well.  I started wearing girly things, sitting to pee, growing my hair, and working on my voice.  Everything I tried made me happy.  I found I love to be seen as female IRL, and I am lucky to have a body that allows me to pass at least with those not closely scrutinizing me.  I can get very sad when people recognize I'm transitioning.

At this point, I'm 15 months on HRT, have changed my legal name/gender, am about 80% done with facial hair removal, scheduled for FFS, and have been presenting female 100% of the time for 9 months.  Sadness from gender dysphoria actually hits me a lot more often these days than species dysphoria, but I suspect that's because I've dealt with being the wrong species for so much longer.  I also can't avoid thinking about gender issues as I go about planning and partaking in procedures and worrying about how people perceive me.

Having a dragon body is impossible so it's not as hard to tell my brain to stop dwelling on it.  I also don't have to go around worrying if I'm passing as a dragon because of course nobody knows I feel like a beautiful winged creature on the inside.  But there certainly was a time in my life when species dysphoria was my primary source of pain, and that pain feels identical to gender dysphoria in my head.  I still experience both.

I can feel the dragoness I am now a lot more than the herm or the male I used to think of myself as.  I feel her horns, her wings, her long neck, her predatory gaze.  At first those things came unbidden.  Now, they usually only come when I focus on them.  Focusing often makes me sad, so I don't do it much.  This all makes me wonder if the dragoness is a past life that I am only starting to remember, and if remembering her makes me all the more keen on changing my human gender.  Sadly, there is no way to test such theories.

For the couple people I've seen saying trans-species people sound crazy, I've told two gender therapists my history and nobody has diagnosed me with any mental illness or condition.  There is no history of mental illness in my family.  I had good parents, no childhood trauma, and I now run my own business and make enough to live comfortably.  I don't know if being dragon otherkin is genetic, spiritual, or what, but if it's some sort of delusional disorder, it's remarkably limited and specific.  I've never wanted to be anything other than a dragon.

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