A thing I have noticed about people who are skeptical about any identity.
They always want an explanation that makes sense to them.
“How can you be asexual? I mean… … …everyone wants sex, right? How can you not want it? I don’t understand!”
“You say you identify as not human, but… what does that mean?”
“I don’t get it… there’s only male or female, so how do you identify as non-binary?”
The problem is that the nature of identity is that it is very personal. Years, even decades of self-exploration and self-discovery lead to the point where someone stands up and says, “I am X”. And you can’t describe those years of gaining knowledge about your self, to someone who never has felt that way and never will.
The skeptics admit with these sentences, that they personally do not feel this way. They think the idea of feeling this way is strange, they can’t understand it. But at the same time, they demand an explanation that makes sense to them logically or emotionally. An identity is never going to sound logical unless you personally are inside the head of the person who has it, because it is something that grows from that person’s personal experience, not from an objective truth. And someone else’s identity is not going to make sense to you emotionally, if you are someone who never would feel that identity.
When you already admit, “I can’t imagine feeling that way”, and then use it as the reason to be skeptical… you answered your own question about why it seems so wrong and strange to you.
Sometimes, you just need to listen to people and do the logical thing: accept that probably, it doesn’t sound strange to them. They have had different experiences and feelings that bring them to this point where this identity sounds like the most sensible thing. They are not copies of you, who split into a parallel reality one hour ago, except the parallel version of you just stood up and went, “I feel like I have no gender!” They are very different people who have been living with very different experiences for their whole lives, and their experiences and understanding of their selves make their gender identity/species identity/(a)sexuality/etc. make sense, the same way that your experiences and your understanding of your self make yours make sense.
You have to start by realising: it does not feel strange to be inside our own heads.
tw: otherkin abuse, self-harm, suicide, bullying
Okay I know it’s been said before but now I am blindly raging at things so hmm.
But basically, please don’t troll the otherkin tag. It’s all in good fun, I know, you’re think we’re ridiculous and pathetic and it’s so funny! Which is fine, think what you will, there’s little that I can say to change that. I will still be as nice to you as I can but if you hate me for merely existing then I’m sorry. I’m sorry I can’t change that.
But let’s talk about abuse now, shall we? You might fight for social justice. You might think otherkin are ridiculous for taking advantage of tumblr’s social justice crew. Sure yeah once more, think what you will. I cannot change much of that. But when you go on the tag and leave hate, leave complete and utter dripping hatred in there, what do you think it does? You probably dont care. You are sitting behind a screen and the effect of your words are something you cannot see. You can fight behind an anonymous screen and I dont think you understand how, at times, your words can be so very affective. I know a large amount of otherkin who have hurt themselves after receiving so much hatred. I have had some come to me, dripping weeping messes of blood and self-hatred and all of it comes from one too many anonymous messages. One too many posts from others who mock and laugh something they feel at their very core.
And why is that okay with you? I know also of several who have threatened to kill themselves after so much hatred. How is that okay. How can you keep doing this, knowing how much it affects us? How much it can hurt? Sure, maybe we can stop overreacting. Maybe we can stop taking it all so seriously.
But hell, I’ve hurt myself after so much. There’s only so much one can take. Perhaps it was a particularly bad day and I signed on to get the help and support from this community that it tends to give, only to come home to find so much hatred and anger spread around. That safe space I was trying to establish was shattered. And sometimes the pieces break off and they hurt and they hurt so much. This is still bullying. This is still complete and utter disrespect of everything. It is not us who is in the foul for being otherkin, it is you, and only you if you are spreading this around.
All I ask is that you stop spreading your hatred. You can do it in the space of your own blog, I don’t care. But please don’t reblog our posts to laugh at us when it’s something we feel so strongly. Please do not post in the tag with all this anger. Because it hurts so much and it cuts like a knife and it tears me apart to know of how much damage it does. And I hope it does the same to you.
I hope that any serious people who are interested in social justice will take this seriously.
Bullying is not okay. Ever. If you support bullying, you support dominance of power of the accepted majority over small, unpopular viewpoints. You support harassing people, triggering them, and causing them stress just for talking about their selves. You support driving people to depression, self-harm and suicide, and driving them away from their blogs and communities (sometimes the only space they can talk… maybe literally, if they are nonverbal), just because you thought they were “silly” or “weird”.
And being a bullied, mocked, erased group that is not taken seriously, does not make otherkin oppressed, but it definitely makes them vulnerable, particularly when few people understand the identity and they don’t know anyone to talk to outside the internet. There are not any books to go to that will say, “The Teen’s Guide To Growing Up Nonhuman”. There are not any pamphlets in community centers that say, “What if I don’t feel human?” with a big thinking bubble and a cartoon of some person looking thoughtful.
So you support abuse of vulnerable people who do not have anywhere else to go, probably can’t even talk to their parents, etc.
That’s not very supporting of social justice.
Sadly, I know that there are some people out there who take a pleasure in bullying and abusing people. They might even laugh when some “weak, pathetic” person gets upset, or self-harms, or binges/purges, or kills their self because of this. They enjoy triggering people. They are “proud to be assholes”. I don’t know why, but, they are. They find a sport in abusing people, and then, of course, turning around to say “it’s not abuse, it’s not a big deal, get over it”, because that’s another trick to make you feel vulnerable, and doubt your self and your ability to tell your own story. These people will not listen. In fact, this probably makes them happy, that they have an effect on us.
But if you don’t want to be that kind of person? If you don’t identify as a bully and an abuser? Then, maybe it’s important to listen.
Don’t harass or laugh at people on the internet for identifying a particular way. Don’t.
You don’t know how many other hate messages they got that day.
You don’t know how they feel about their self esteem right now.
You don’t know if something bad just happened in their family.
You don’t know if they are thinking about suicide.
You can’t tell. So it’s never safe to treat them as your own personal joke, “just for a little fun”, if you want to be a good person.
If you don’t care about being a good person, I guess, keep going. But, for anyone who says they support social justice… don’t support bullying. Of any kind. It is an abuse of power.
Every once in a while,
I start thinking about how I identify, like…overall, and I sit back and go “wait, why am I not bigender, again?” Because really, “bigender”, strictly speaking, suits me better than “genderfluid”. I think it just boils down to the fact that I don’t experience a distinct divide in my gender(s), rather experiencing it more as a wibbly-wobbly, gendery-wendery…thing.
Hrm. Oh well. I’m comfortable with the term “genderfluid”, and I’ve certainly participated in bigender circles. I don’t know why I’m posting this to my main and not my gender blog. I’ll put it over there in a second.
Just gonna drop this over here, too.
Resources on Otherkin
*This list in under construction. Please feel welcome to make recommendations.
Resources Discussing Otherkin
Recommended or Written with Public Audience in Mind
Resources for Otherkin
Personal Sites & Blogs
backtoshiri / You and IBeing Lion
Forums & Communities
Otherkin News (tumblr mirror)
Otherkin News @ Livejournal
The Zoo (podcast)
Anonymous asked: This is probably silly, but I have a question about the term “heathen.” I know lots of practicing pagans use it to refer to themselves, but is it also a word that non-pagans can use to refer to pagans, or is it off-limits? I have a few friends who are and call themselves it, but I’m never sure if I can also use that word, since I know it has been used as a derogatory in the past. I don’t want to accidentally be offensive or hurtful.
Very good question!
“Heathen” is a word I’ve heard my whole life to blanket-refer to non-Christians. It’s a word my family’s used. It’s a word my friends and neighbours have used. It’s prevalent, especially down here in the Bible Belt, it seems, as a derogatory (or sometimes playfully so) term to refer to someone who “hasn’t seen the light”, in a Christian sense. The phrase I grew up with was “uncultured heathen”. The words came as a package deal.
It’s only been recently (within the past couple of years) that I started really thinking about that phrase and realising why it’s problematic. It implies that in order for one to be cultured, that they must be Christian, that they can only be “civilised” once they’ve repented from their dirty pagan ways. (I always heard the word “pagan” growing up to mean something…less than cultured, as well, and I learned better about that word long before I learned better about the word “heathen”. It’s interesting the way these words get batted around and then reclaimed.)
The reason I use the word “heathen” is because, to the best of my knowledge, it specifically refers to a pagan practicioner/follower of the Germanic/Norse path(s). Which I do, so it describes me. I’m not sure if it has broader applications than that, but the Norse Paganism circles seem to be…very stringent about their use of words sometimes, so I’m sure I’ll catch hell for saying that I don’t have a problem with any brand of pagan using the term “heathen” to refer to themselves. After all, at its root, it refers to someone who isn’t Christian, or to a culture that’s pre-Christian (in a historical context), and modern paganism is both, in a lot of ways.
But it’s not a word that applies to everyone, and it’s not a word everyone would apply to themselves. If someone says they want to be referred to as a heathen, obviously you should refer to them that way. If you’ve heard someone refer to themselves as a heathen but you don’t know whether you’re allowed to call them that when talking to/about them, then ask! And if it’s a word you’ve never heard someone refer to themselves with, then it’s probably not how they identify, and so you should probably use other words that they apply to themselves (such as pagan, witch, etc.), usually dependant on what paths they follow.
Thanks very much for the ask—I’m always happy to help people who want to be considerate! I hope this does help some, because it’s a rather broad question with a rather broad answer.