Otherkin And Identity
What It Means to be Trans-Species (VICE Article.)
I feel my selfhood to be discrete from this body. It’s not inherently me — it’s just a vehicle I’m operating. Plus, what does it mean to be human, anyway?”
Riviera identifies as a dragon. He decided this 15 years ago after having what he describes as prophetic dreams of a past life. As an “otherkin,” he is one of the hundreds of Australians who identify as another species — whether from Earth or myth.
Laugh riot. But here’s a point —
A lot of people like to say otherkin is a “made up identity” because dragons don’t exist.
That’s not how identity appears to work. It doesn’t matter if it’s possible to physically be a werewolf or a tree. Case in point: people seriously identify, internally, as a werewolf. Why would it matter whether the thing exists materially, so far as you can think it and believe it? To that extent it’s been realized.
I think the issue is most people don’t seem to understand what identity actually is. It’s a narrative about who we are. That can be literally anything. Look at religious identities — based entirely on stories and feelings about stories. Someone’s identity as a Christian is on its face no more or less real than someone’s identity as a werewolf, and someone’s identity as a man is no more or less real because they have a penis or y chromosome. (Unless they say their sex is werewolf in which case yeah. Have fun with that.)
So we might say this or that identity is silly or whatever — it didn’t appeal to our aesthetics. That’s all that judgement is. I think identifying as a werewolf is absurd. But that really doesn’t matter.
There’s no reason to think it’s “hard wired into the brain” though. Into the psychology, maybe. Not quite the same thing, but that shouldn’t make it any less.
That said, I don’t think the only reason there’s a high prevalence of mental illness amongst otherkin is external judgement. Maybe it’s a chicken and egg thing, but an experiment I did in high school demonstrated that if you create a story that you are in fact three people, or demon possessed or what have you, that “story” literally takes on a life of its own after a certain point. So be careful what you feed too much.
“Real? It’s not a matter of which thought is real and which isn’t. The question is which thoughts eat the others. It’s all real.”