12 Facts you should know about Otherkin

-By Felix

12. An Otherkin is defined as a person who discovers through personal experiences and phenomena that they are spiritually or mentally some type of non-human creature.

Basically, it means someone believes that they’re a real life or fictional creature, such as a wolf, unicorn, elf, or vampire. Otherkin who believe that they are creatures from modern fiction, such as a pokemon, sometimes call themselves fictionkin. (and that’s a whole other kettle of fish- or magikarp, so to speak)

Depending on what an otherkin believes they are, that’s called their ‘kintype’. For example elves are elfkin, and wolves are wolfkin. The term kin is short for Otherkin, and you can say someone is ‘kin. However, you wouldn’t want to say they have kin, in the same way you wouldn’t want to say someone has blond. You’d say they have blond hair. Otherkin are kin, and have a kintype.

You may have seen people online claim to have kintypes like inanimate objects, foods, or even Hitler! But these people aren’t sincere otherkin, they’re people who make parody accounts to make fun of them.

11. Otherkin do not believe they’re physically non-human, just that their soul or mind is non-human.

They believe that their mind or their soul is a mismatch with their body. Many otherkin experience body dysphoria where they feel like their body is the wrong shape, or that they look wrong in the mirror.

Some otherkin experience what are called supernumerary phantom limbs. Unlike the sensation experienced by someone who has lost a limb having sensation in it after it’s gone, otherkin have sensation in limbs that their body never had such as tails, wings, or ears on the top of their heads, etc. If an otherkin is feeling it strongly enough, they will even feel pain and call out if their tail gets stuck in a closing door, or be uncomfortable if someone passes where the limb should be.

Even though they experience these sensations, it doesn’t mean they don’t know that they’re in a human body, or that it has limits. People like to make jokes about wolfkin running naked through the forest, or birdkin endangering themselves by trying to fly, but this is not something that really happens, because otherkin don’t think they’re physically their kintype. If they did, they’d be busy running through the woods instead of posting on the internet!

10. Otherkin didn’t originate on tumblr.

While certain people, especially royalty, or people of various spiritual traditions have considered themselves non human for centuries, the modern concept of Otherkin can be traced back as far as the 1970s. Back then a group called the Elf Queen’s Daughters (a group containing both men and women) considered themselves elves and faeries and performed pagan rituals.

Another group, called the Silver Elves published and circulated a mailing-list (as in actual physical letters in the actual physical mail) for more than 20 years, starting in 1979. It was sent through the mail, published in magazines and newsletters, and its contact information was listed in fairly ‘mainstream’ pagan publications.

When online newsgroups started in the early 90s, before the advent of the world wide web, elves got online and started posting; the earliest example being Elfkind Digest, which started at the university of Kentucky. And it wasn’t just elves popping up online. The other founders of otherkin, the draconics and the werewolves also started sharing stories and online, and more people began to discover that there were others out there who believed they were elves, dragons, werewolves, and more. The otherkin presence has just grown online ever since, with many websites, message boards and blogs devoted to the subject. Like seriously, there’s a lot.

9. Otherkin aren’t all a bunch of kids and/or teenagers.

People often jump to the conclusion that all kin are minors, because either that’s who they see posting online, or because they don’t think that serious adults would actually believe something that others would consider stupid or childish. However, this is far from the case. There is, and always has been a significant number of adults in the kin community. In fact, as we talked about just a moment ago, it was founded by adults who believed themselves to be elves.

It’s true that the community does skew younger, especially on social media, and young people are generally the ones shouting the loudest to be heard. The reason behind this is that people generally discover they are otherkin when they’re in their teens, or early twenties, and when something like this is new to you, you have a lot to say about it. I mean honestly, if you woke up tomorrow and discovered you were an elf, you’d probably want to write about it and share your experiences too.

Despite that, there are lots of adults in the community, people in their mid to late 20s, 30s, 40s, even 50s or 60s. These members however are often quieter, partially because they have more obligations outside of being online and posting about being otherkin. Not only that, but once you’ve been otherkin for a while, you sort of get the hang of how it feels and how you feel about it, and well, you don’t have much to say about it any more. Being a dragon is just part of your daily life, not something that you need to write 5000 words about every two days.

8. Otherkin have experiences that set them apart from other people.

Being otherkin means believing you have the spirit or mind of a non-human, but it doesn’t JUST mean believing you have the spirit or mind of a non-human. It also means that because of this you have certain experiences that are somewhat  unique to being otherkin.

I already mentioned that Otherkin can experience dysphoria- feeling wrong inside their bodies or not recognizing their faces in the mirror- and also that they can have supernumerary phantom limbs like wings or tails. But otherkin can also have other strange experiences. For example, some otherkin have visions or memories of what it is or was like to actually be their kintype. They can be hazy memories, or they could remember it as vividly as any of their human memories. These might come in the form of dreams, or triggered like any other daily memory.

Other things kin can experience are feeling unexplained urges or fears, such as a wolfkin with the urge to hunt or eat raw meat, or an fairykin who has a fear of iron. Some otherkin also experience missing abilities, like feeling like their sense of smell is supposed to be stronger than it is, or that they should be able to do magic, or fly, despite knowing that they can’t.

Some otherkin experience something called ‘shifts’ which is where they can feel their body fully turning into the body of their kintype, mentally, astrally, etc. Otherkin know their body is not changing *physically* and there is a huge stigma in the community against mentioning even the idea of being able to physically shift.

7. Otherkin can be a spirituality, but not all otherkin are religious or spiritual.

Many otherkin consider their otherkinity to be at the center of their spirituality. They believe that their soul was supposed to be non-human, or that they are the reincarnation of a non-human creature. Many kin are pagans or witches, and incorporate their kintype into their worship and practice.

However, there are also otherkin who have a religious faith that doesn’t have anything to do with being kin. There are Otherkin who are christians, jews, or muslims. There are actually a fair number of Christian otherkin specifically, so much that there are forums and webpages just for them.

On the flip side, there are also atheist otherkin who don’t believe in souls or spirituality at all. Instead, they believe that for them, being otherkin is a result of a strange or unique brain wiring which leads them to feel more like mythological creatures or animals.

6. Being otherkin is not a symptom of mental illness.

Even if you don’t believe in souls, and believe that being Otherkin is a result of the brain, that doesn’t make it a mental illness. In order for something to be considered a mental illness, it has to meet certain criteria. It has to cause the person who experiences it distress, and it has to impede their functioning in everyday life.

While being otherkin can sometimes be annoying, and make people feel alienated from other people in the world, it’s not something that for most people causes suffering or emotional distress. In fact, it’s the opposite. Most people who are otherkin find some level of comfort in their identity and knowing they’re not human.

Additionally, being otherkin doesn’t impede in everyday life any more than a belief in astrology, or religion does. Otherkin know they are human, and know they have to have jobs, and that they can’t fly out the window or run around naked.  Being otherkin is not a delusion because it does not conflict with reality, and can’t be proven false- and also spiritual beliefs are not considered delusions.

Like ANY community, there are members of the otherkin community who are mentally ill, but mental illness is not what causes someone to be otherkin, and it’s not a symptom of it.

5. Otherkin are often targets of harassment, but they aren’t oppressed.

Some people like to claim that otherkin believe they are ‘oppressed’ and indeed a minority of otherkin do say that they are oppressed. However the majority of the community does not believe that.

Otherkin aren’t forced to use separate bathrooms, prevented from dressing and presenting in a way that makes them feel comfortable, prevented from voting, refused jobs or housing, or discriminated against in any quantifiable way that would be the basis to claim real oppression.

However, that is not to say that people are not prejudiced against otherkin. The community faces a real problem of harassment on a day to day basis where outsiders come in to make fun of and bully them, or attempt to educate or prove them ‘wrong’ about their beliefs. This harassment often comes from a place of condescension where the harassers believe that otherkin are laughable, mentally ill, or just plain stupid. Harassment toward the community isn’t a new problem, and tends to perpetuate in a cycle as more people become aware of otherkin.

4. Otherkin aren’t looking to ‘transition’.

There is a strong misconception in existence that Otherkin are ‘transspecies’ and like transgendered people, and that they want to ‘transition’ and change their bodies into their ‘true’ species. This is almost entirely untrue.

Aside from a tiny minority of extreme body modders (whose dramatic appearances tend to attract the attention from the press) there are almost no otherkin who consider themselves ‘transspecies’ or who want to change their body in any way other than normal socially acceptable ways like piercings or tattoos.

As a whole, otherkin aren’t looking to make their identities public. It’s not like they have elfkin coming out parties, and no one is changing their species to ‘elf’ on their driver’s license. Frankly, being otherkin is generally a very personal thing and while one might share it with their friends, lovers, even family, it’s not something you your boss needs, or should know about.

While otherkin sometimes get tattoos, or wear clothing or jewelry relevant to their kintype, there’s almost nothing about someone’s outward appearance that would or should tell you if they’re kin or not. Which brings us to the next point.

3. Otherkin is not a gender.

You may have been on tumblr and seen people who claim to be ‘catgender’ or faegender and ask people to use neopronouns for them life ‘meowself’ or ‘faeself’. However, this phenomenon is unrelated to being Otherkin and is actually a (radical) non-binary concept. While Otherkin CAN espouse these gender ideas, and use neoprouns, they are not a thing that originated within the otherkin community. Otherkin for the most part have the same genders as anyone else- most otherkin just identify as male or female and use typical pronouns.

The phenomenon of neopronouns, and people outside the community associating them with otherkin and assuming they were an otherkin thing actually annoyed a lot of the kin community. Speaking of which…

2. Otherkin are not necessarily Social Justice Warriors.

There’s a perception, especially from people who only know about otherkin through tumblr, that all Otherkin are extremely liberal hippie social justice warriors with radical politically correct ideologies. This is actually patently not true.

There are a lot of younger otherkin who entered the community through tumblr who do consider themselves SJWs, however, they’re in the minority of the community, and they actually tend to clash a lot with the older, off-tumblr kin who tend to be more conservative, or at least more traditionally ‘hippie-ish’. There are actually conservative otherkin, and there are unfortunately even otherkin who are racist or homophobic, and there are otherkin who consider themselves anti-sjws.

1. Otherkin may not consider themselves fully human, but they are people.

Otherkin, like any group, are diverse. Every otherkin you meet is going to be a different individual with a different story, and different beliefs. But each otherkin is also a person, just like every other person on the planet, and whether or not they have unusual beliefs- and whether or not you agree with those beliefs- they deserve the same respect that we would afford to any person that we meet.

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