People who identify as other than human (who call themselves otherkin) and people who identify as animals (who call themselves therianthropes, therians, or animal people) are usually very discreet about that part of their identity. It’s a personal thing, and they usually keep it fairly secret. They’re worried about what people might think of them. They usually only talk about it to others who feel the same way. That’s why there are communities of otherkin and therianthropes at all. Nearly everyone goes by pseudonyms in the otherkin and therianthrope communities, to avoid connecting their legal names to it. You can see that tendency in the names of survey respondents in Lupa’s research on the otherkin community, A Field Guide to Otherkin. She collected surveys from 131 people (Lupa, p. 285), but less than ten of those names look likely to be even part of a legal name (Lupa, p. 307).
If someone feels like it’s an important thing about them to know, then they will tell some other people who are close to them, such as their best friends and family. Shadow Seeker wrote that that’s a part of letting your loved ones get to know who you are. Similarly, SummonerWolf wrote, “I personally never want to live with anyone again without telling them about my therianthropy. I am so much more relaxed when I know I can truly be myself.” It’s wise to be selective about who one tells. Miaren Crow’s Daughter compares that to other kinds of practical caution.
There are some people who are very open about it. They consider that openness is a form of activism. They’re raising awareness that there are people who identify as otherkin. If they show outsiders that otherkin are okay kinds of people to know, then the rest of the people who identify as otherkin might not have to worry so much about what outsiders think of them. Some otherkin would prefer to have a hand in how the public thinks of them. Baxil wrote of dragon otherkin, “we’re at the front line of the battle to legitimize Otherkin – and we need to be mindful of this as we declare ourselves to the world. […] We need to show we’re people just like anyone else; we need to show we’re unique and genuinely different.” There can be a purpose to being open about being otherkin, but it’s not for everyone.
As for doing “weird animal things in public places”… we at Otherkin Questions haven’t heard of people who identify as mythical creatures doing that, but people who identify as animals sometimes do. Apparently, many therians have had an urge to express an animal behavior some time or other. That’s just an urge. Many therians say it’s easy to suppress that urge. As such, those therians never express animal behavior in public. They have self-control. Having an animal side is no excuse to act out.
On the other hand, there are some therians who say they’ve expressed an animal behavior in public, without necessarily knowing that it was an animal behavior. There are pretty harmless expressions of animal behavior, and that’s a common part of therianthropy. Therians sometimes find that their body language is different from those of most people. Later, they may discover that these gestures are like those of their animal side, which they expressed without even knowing it. Mokele, a reptile therian, was unaware that his walk somehow resembled that of a monitor lizard until his friend pointed it out. Rosalyn Greene, a wolf therian, was scolded as a child for body language that she later discovered was normal behavior for wolves (Greene, The Magic of Shapeshifting, p. 146-150).
Some of those therians say it was difficult for them to suppress an urge to express animal behaviors of more disruptive kinds. Not all therians have that problem. There are therians who say that expressing inappropriate and disruptive animal behaviors has caused them to lose friends, get taken to a psychologist, scare a family member, get expelled from school, and lose a job. For them, their animal behaviors really interfered with their lives. Again, there is no reason to reason to think all therians have such extreme difficulty suppressing their animal behaviors, or that their animal behaviors are so detrimental to their lives. There are just some individuals who have suffered extreme lack of self-control, which isn’t an inherent part of therianthropy. Many therians never suffer such negative effects on their lives due to their therianthropy.
Even so, therians who have those difficulties with their animal side might be able to learn enough self-control that their animal side won’t ruin their lives. As a child, Merf used to feel like their animal side “leaped out and took over” when they were angry, but they learned to take responsibility for their own actions. It just took them some time to get over some misconceptions about their animal side, and to develop a more mature self-understanding. To develop that kind of understanding and self-control, Lupa advises, “See the animal as yourself, not a separate entity … Understand that you are the animal at all times, not just when you’re angry.” This control and responsibility over one’s self– one’s animal self– comes from self-acceptance. It doesn’t work to blame one’s animal side, or to think that one’s animal side is uncontrollable.