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otherkin identity mitigating gender identity discomfort
Chordal
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Post: #1
otherkin identity mitigating gender identity discomfort
I'm not really sure how to put this...

In my own case, having an identity as demonic alters my perception of my own gender identity. It essentially expands the range of acceptable identity and behavior, as versus being locked within a "human" (yet culturally specific) set of possibilities. I've noticed that there are a lot of people in the otherkin and therian communities who seem to also not have gender identities which conform to "human man" and "human woman", so I was thinking that maybe it would be productive to open up a thread based on discussing the impact of otherkin or therian components on our understandings of ourselves.

In my experience I can see this happening most blatantly in the gender identity field (which has been my focus for the last decade), but feel free to discuss other ways in which your identity has opened up because of identifying as non-human. I assume (perhaps fallaciously) that one wouldn't identify as otherkin or therian if it didn't relieve some discomfort or constriction with identifying as human, though with me the aspect of this release is very visible in the area I'm working on now.

I have definitely had experiences with a number of beings who I perceived as spirits, who did not act in a hostile manner toward me on the basis of my gender, or on the basis of my gender combined with my sex. On the other hand, I have had multiple experiences with humans -- way too many to count -- who have behaved in a hostile manner towards me because of my sex and my perceived incongruence with the gender they expected of me because of the inferences they drew from my sex. I get that this is not a big thing in the spirit world? It might just be the spirits who draw close to me who could give me that perception, though.

I was talking about something related offline, and realized that I could not separate the experience of being seen as female from the experience of being seen as gender-nonconforming and female (because I've never really conformed -- the harassment started with being called "gay" in Kindergarten). So I've felt strongly in the past that I was not being seen as a full human because of my sex, but I can't extricate the impact of my nonconforming gender from my experience within that gender, if that makes sense? I mean, I've never felt what it was like to be a gender-conforming woman and feel comfortable or happy with the constraints placed on gender-conforming women, so I really do not know if all women feel somewhat dehumanized; or if it is the combination of my identity, presentation, desires, and sex that has caused me to feel that the world is apparently hostile, and to have a history of not being treated as a full person.

So I'm not certain if the world is really as horrible as I've come to feel it is, or if it's just my placement within the world which causes me to feel this way. Having a demonic aspect of my identity causes me to give myself more leeway when it comes to imperatives to do things like "live authentically" (when I already am living authentically, I'm just doing it in a language others don't necessarily understand), and to be "honest" (and "good") and the like. I try to be honest with myself, even when it's tough to do so (which reflects back on the thought that I'm not ideal; which is somewhat implicated for me in "demonic"), but sometimes complete honesty with everyone one meets, all the time (as I used to try to give) isn't the best tactic for self-preservation. In extreme cases, self-preservation necessitates omission or dishonesty, but that's better than being attacked for doing nothing more than existing.

I actually did have to remind myself recently that bullying behavior is not excused on the basis of the bullies' legitimization of their behavior. Just because they say you deserve it doesn't mean that their behavior is correct or excusable. What's nice about a realization like that is that it can be applied retroactively. <!-- sSmile --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- sSmile -->

Okay, I should stop now so that others can respond. <!-- sSmile --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- sSmile --> How has identifying as otherkin or therian impacted your understanding of yourself? Has it made things easier to understand? Are you a different person than you would have been, now that you have your own context for understanding yourself?

P.S. also re-read paragraphs 1 and 2, they have the meat of my query. <!-- sWink --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- sWink -->
2013-04-17 5:29
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Post: #2
Re: otherkin identity mitigating gender identity discomfort
Chordal Wrote:...so I really do not know if all women feel somewhat dehumanized; or if it is the combination of my identity, presentation, desires, and sex that has caused me to feel that the world is apparently hostile, and to have a history of not being treated as a full person.

I would assume, from my own observations of human females, that most, if not all women, enjoy being...feminine. That is, wearing skirts/dresses, makeup, heels, enjoying acting like a princess (though secretly thinking they're also 'tough'), etc. Drives me nuts because AS a woman, I don't adhere to any of those things yet people I interact with still seem to treat me like the typical female.

Honestly though I don't think my non-typical expression of my physical gender is related to my 'kinness. It could be, but I've never really noticed a direct correlation.

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2013-04-17 20:13
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Chordal
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Post: #3
Re: otherkin identity mitigating gender identity discomfort
Hi Eli,

Maybe it's my exposure to the queer community, inclusive of the genderqueer community, which leads me to have the perspective I do...right now I'm in contact with someone who works as a mechanic, whose pronoun preference I haven't inquired on, but who seems to be a butch woman. This has actually been pretty awesome. <!-- sSmile --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- sSmile --> I've also met transmen who have identified as "butch" (not necessarily "butch women," but "butch," as a noun) prior to transition. More than one in that area, now that I'm thinking about it...in addition to people who I think of as women on the male-to-female transgender spectrum, but who may not self-identify as women. I think a large part of the problem with categorizing people into men/women boxes is that the categories, "men" and "women" are seemingly always loaded.

Although I personally don't identify as a woman, I'm taken to be one by most people (at least after they get close to me and hear me speak). But there's also the fact that a lot of women seem to be now deferring to me in a way that would happen if I were a boy.

I guess I never really updated where I was in my transition here, huh? <!-- sSmile --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- sSmile --> I'm most of the time wearing male-gendered clothing, or Misses' clothing that can pass for androgynous...not including the pink and purple that I refuse to give up. <!-- sTongue --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_razz.gif" alt=":P" title="Razz" /><!-- sTongue --> I've found that I'm a lot more comfortable in Mens' jeans and Mens' T-shirts...no more bra straps showing! I'm not totally going all-out with the menswear, but I am appearing androgynous enough that I've been called "Sir" and "he" and "this gentleman" at work. <!-- sSmile --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- sSmile --> This has introduced a variable that I didn't entirely predict, which is young people asking me what my gender is...given that I've brought my gender expression up with management, this is kind of a case-by-case thing now.

But I am, generally speaking, a lot more comfortable now than I was, before. The thing is that I know I'm inhabiting an in-between area where I could be and likely am seen as of a variant gender, while at the same time I'm being seen as female in body (but probably something else in spirit). This is basically where I want to be -- as I think my *body image* is female while my gender identity is not. I'm just glad I found this out before trying testosterone, as I don't think that testosterone will really make me happy, at this point.

The major problem I've found with Womens' clothing, for me, is that the vast majority of it seems geared toward sending subliminal messages that one is feminine and wants to be treated in a feminine manner. I've only found this through trial-and-error and seeing what responses I've gotten while dressed fully in regular womenswear as versus the responses I've gotten in menswear, or mixed-gender-wear, or "androwear," as I should probably call it. <!-- sWink --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- sWink --> (For those whose first language is not English, "androwear" isn't a word <!-- sWink --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- sWink --> it's a neologism I just coined from "androgynous" + "wear")

So given my own travels, especially knowing some of the women I do, I would lean against characterizing human women as mostly or entirely essentially feminine...because there's a lot of social conditioning that feeds into that, and not all of it is anything one would recognize without having searched out other options and other modes of expression, and having lived in other social positions. I mean, if I hadn't gotten up the courage to shop in the Mens' Department, I wouldn't have known that Mens' T-shirts have much higher necklines than Womens', you know? Or that Mens' clothing in general is designed to hide the body, while Womens' clothing trends toward exposing the body. This in turn reflects an ingrained social power dynamic over whose bodies are deemed public property and whose are not. (Sorry, that's some of my sociology training [and its accompanying anger] coming through...)

But I had to have a really strong amount of volition to shop in the Mens' section, because there are a lot of really strong messages out there that stepping outside of one's assigned social-position box is dangerous and disgusting and wrong, while inhabiting one's assigned box is "right." Most people don't have a strong enough discomfort to not only question, but also take action, on embodying themselves as something other than what they're told they should be. The place I'm at now is basically a much more comfortable one for me, but also paradoxically a more socially vulnerable place to inhabit -- in regard to anti-trans and anti-everything-not-heteronormative violence -- while it at the same time gives some protection from outright misogynist violence (which I still experience from time to time while dressed femininely).

In my case, I kind of take a broad-range look at this and what I see in many/most people who are female who identify as women who also present as feminine...basically, I see unexamined lives and a lot of societal conditioning and a lot of fear (as we're told to have of being something other than feminine) and insecurity (as capitalist culture tries to drum into us, in order to sell products like depilatory creams). That's not to say that femininity isn't a valid social expression, because it is -- it's just not the *only viable* social expression, and it shouldn't be seen as the *only acceptable* social expression for women. But unless one's in the not-heteronormative or not-cissexual* community, there's little chance that one would ever really see and take consideration that there are other options.

*cissexual = non-transgendered and non-genderqueer

What came up for me when I read your response, Eli, was the question of if there ever was a time when you did not think of yourself as otherkin, and I was wondering if there was more comfort for you as regards your gender identity after awakening.
2013-04-20 4:44
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Post: #4
Re: otherkin identity mitigating gender identity discomfort
There’s a lot to read and respond to, so if I get a little mixed up and/or forget something, please forgive me.

I see being otherkin and male as being part of my identity, not the other way around. I don’t feel that anything has opened up so much as... this is just the way I am. Does that make sense? I think the rest of my identity would remain the same if I was not otherkin and female. (I’m not positive because I only have the experiences I’ve had to go on.)
In my case, I guess having an identity as a shapeshifter affects my gender identity. I am male, but shapeshifting adds a bit of ambiguity. (Like Loki except I am obviosuly not Loki.) It makes the dysphoria a little easier when I tell myself I am just currently taking a human, female form. I still plan on transitioning though as soon as I can afford it.
I don’t identify as otherkin because of any particular reason that I know of. I just am. It has and does, in fact, cause me discomfort because I don’t understand how I can exist. It’s embarrassing. I also learned the hard way that I can’t not identify as otherkin. This was not a choice for me and I don’t understand why anyone would want to choose it. This is just the way I am. It’s the same for being male. There have been studies done that suggest gender identity is based on how our brains develop which is pretty cool though.
I don't feel locked in a set of possibilities (aside from things that are scientifically impossible of course). There is so much I can do and be as someone who is currently in human form.

On the topic of gender and society, I do not feel dehumanized for having the body I do, the gender I was perceived as, or the gender I am. I am very much against gender roles and by that I mean I am against people paying any attention to them at all whether that means enforcing them or “subverting them” (which, in my experience, actually enforces them because it is still a way of acting as if they exist). Then again, I grew up in a generation and place where many girls are vicious, misogynistic, and sneer at things and people for being “girly.” (That should NOT be an insult.)

To summarize and answer your questions, I have no idea how identifying as otherkin has impacted my understanding of myself because I have no clue what it’s like to not be otherkin. I’m not supposed to exist and I don’t know why I identify the way I do, so I’d say it makes things harder to understand. I do not believe I am a different person than I would have been, but again, I don’t know what it’s like to not be.

I'm the one with the power around here. -Rumplestiltskin
2013-04-20 20:40
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Post: #5
Re: otherkin identity mitigating gender identity discomfort
Chordal Wrote:So given my own travels, especially knowing some of the women I do, I would lean against characterizing human women as mostly or entirely essentially feminine...because there's a lot of social conditioning that feeds into that, and not all of it is anything one would recognize without having searched out other options and other modes of expression, and having lived in other social positions. I mean, if I hadn't gotten up the courage to shop in the Mens' Department, I wouldn't have known that Mens' T-shirts have much higher necklines than Womens', you know? Or that Mens' clothing in general is designed to hide the body, while Womens' clothing trends toward exposing the body. This in turn reflects an ingrained social power dynamic over whose bodies are deemed public property and whose are not. (Sorry, that's some of my sociology training [and its accompanying anger] coming through...

It reflects the clothing that is most likely to be sell well in the female section of the store. Since I believe most women shop for their own clothing, I believe neither that women are buying and wearing these clothes completely against their will, nor that the manufacturers \ store are trying to push an agenda. Instead, I think it more plausible that those who wish for a less revealing outfit are more apt to look for and find the articles in the men's section, thus reducing said person's impact on future clothing in the feminine section; clothing that is "less revealing but still feminine" may not be bought because a portion of the women who want less revealing clothing go to a different section entirely.


As far as being "otherkin", it has done only positive things to my identity. Rather than teetering on the precipice of both femininity and masculinity as I had before and would most likely be doing still, it introduced a gender-neutrality and relative disconnect from identities as a whole. It is very difficult to feel discomfort in being, for example, human or non-human when you exert no effort to align yourself to the scale. Rather than overtly further the understanding I have of myself, the merge has made it personally acceptable to exist without complete understanding -- I was what I was, I am what I am, and I will be what I will be.

~~~
2013-04-21 15:39
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Post: #6
Re: otherkin identity mitigating gender identity discomfort
Chordal Wrote:What came up for me when I read your response, Eli, was the question of if there ever was a time when you did not think of yourself as otherkin, and I was wondering if there was more comfort for you as regards your gender identity after awakening.

Before I started exploring my personal identity (read: before college) I don't remember how I thought of myself. It was probably with generic terms like: short, female, blue eyes, likes ice cream, likes animals, is weird, etc. And since I feel as if I've always been 'different' but simply lacked the term "otherkin" as a kid, I don't remember a time when I wasn't 'kin. Doesn't that make sense?

When I was younger, gender wasn't an issue because it always seemed like you were either a male or a female. I knew nothing about variations on those save for that some people felt they should be opposite from their physical gender. So since I didn't feel out of place with my female body (I've had it since I was born so I'm used to it) I've never questioned my gender identity. Aside from not agreeing with society's assumption of females and pigeon-holing them all into: feminine, pretty, makeup, etc. entities, that is.

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2013-04-22 20:32
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Post: #7
Re: otherkin identity mitigating gender identity discomfort
Hellos,

I'm back. It took me a while because I had to process some stuff which came up for me in the context of the comments, combined with some stuff in my personal life (okay, a lot of it -- concerning whether I'm "really" otherkin, whether I'm "really" transgendered, or whether I've been seeking approval from friends and/or am multiple and not exactly trans*). I'm probably still doing some of that now, but it isn't as overwhelming as it was.

I can see where people here feel the same way about their existence as nonhuman as I do about my gender stuff...not ever having experienced anything else, and so not being able to step outside of that experience to compare and contrast it with an experience one supposedly had. Like if someone asked me whether as a girl I felt about myself differently, I can see that there's some complication there because I didn't experience a "normal" girlhood, if I did at all; though what I did experience pointed me in a direction where I found it was less painful to think of myself as not-a-girl (rather than as a girl failing at being a girl), and that's more what I was getting at.

Like if there was a spectrum of intensity of otherkin identity, I wouldn't be at the clear extreme where I never thought of myself as human and could not think of myself as human. I'd be somewhere in the range that I have some discomfort that's alleviated by identifying the way I do...like inhabiting any identity one truly has, can alleviate tension (even if it causes tension for another reason...and they all seem to cause tension for another reason).

It's also adaptive, in my case, because there are so many ways that I don't fit the mold of "a good person" that if I cared entirely about being "a good person," I'd probably feel pretty bad on a pretty constant basis. <!-- sTongue --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_razz.gif" alt=":P" title="Razz" /><!-- sTongue --> As it is, when I'm identified as "cold" or "uncaring" I kind of go, "yep." :/

There is also the religious part of this where it's easier and saner and probably safer for me personally, to identify as demonic than it is to identify as Satanist or a Demonolatress. The latter gets into some sticky territory which I probably shouldn't talk about, and the former is full of people I don't necessarily want to hang with (though some were cool, it's just that we tend to be evanescent...probably for good reason). For me, there is a difference between identifying with or as-similar-to something, if not actually being a living version of what that "something" was based on; and being a person who follows a religion made by humans, based around what's being identified-with...if that makes any sense. Thing is that I also have the energetic-sensitivity thing going on which doesn't quite allow me to clearly push or contextualize all of this into the realm of myth.

Alright, I've got to go, but I'll be back later. I wonder if by then I'll be able to recall what's slipped my mind...
2013-04-29 2:11
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