What Otherkin Are and Are Not

This is an old social media post I made to dispel a few common misunderstandings about otherkin. I’m cleaning it up and updating it a little because the information is still useful. We’ll start by defining otherkin and go from there. 

What Otherkin Are:

Otherkin are people who identify either partially or wholly as non-human entities on a non-physical level. Different people explain how and why they have this identity in many different ways, whether spiritual or psychological. They may also describe and define their experiences in many different ways. Since we can’t really know the truth of how and why, the community largely accepts however people choose to understand their nature. 

What Otherkin Are Not:

A choice. Being otherkin is never a choice. Period. You can’t choose to be kin. You can’t choose a kintype. People who choose to identity as non-human (as a coping mechanism) are called copinglinkers, and there are other terms for other voluntary identities. “Roleplaying” comes to mind. Some of these people claim to be otherkin. These people are either confused about what otherkin means, or they are actively lying and co-opting our community, trying to change what it means to be kin. These people are categorically not members of our community. They do not get to speak for us. 

A coping mechanism. Many kin have coping mechanisms which relate to being otherkin. I have a literal hoard of jewelry and precious minerals in my bedroom, and I find its presence relaxing. But being otherkin in and of itself is never a coping mechanism. 

A mental illness. The DSM-V, the definitive resource on diagnosis of mental illness according to the American Psychiatric Association, hasn’t had a section labeled “Identity Disorders” since 1987, because no identity is considered inherently maladaptive or diagnostically relevant in terms of mental health. Most psychologists, therapists, and mental health experts who are aware we exist acknowledge otherkin identities as completely healthy.

A scapegoat for attacking transgender people. A scattering of trolls and alt-right morons trying to make otherkin look bad have spread misinformation relating otherkin to transgender experiences, for the purpose of using us as a smoke screen to attack trans rights. Now and then trans people who think they own the concept of dysphoria have also attacked otherkin for having similar experiences to them. Speaking as a trans woman who is otherkin, I experience both gender dysphoria and species dysphoria. There is a lot of overlap between how transgender people feel, and how many otherkin feel. There are also a lot of otherkin who are transgender, or at least queer. We are not in any way threatening the transgender community or co-opting transgender terms or experiences.

Physical shapeshifting or physically non-human identities. The definition of otherkin is flatly limited to identities with no physical component. There are people who wish they could physically become non-human creatures. There are people who believe this is possible. There are also people who use this desire to prey upon vulnerable people with promises that it’s possible. The otherkin community polices itself rigorously and has zero tolerance for people who prey on dysphoria to manipulate people. They are not welcomed in our community. 

Explanations for Otherkin:

Spiritual. For some of us, our identity is a spiritual belief, connected with reincarnation and even deeply rooted in religion.

Psychological. Some of us choose not to explain our identity in spiritual terms, and instead suggest developmental or neurological explanations.

How we choose to explain our identities is irrelevant. The effect is the same. We are what we are. It’s not a choice or a coping mechanism or anything other than simply who and what we are. 

Intersecting Groups and Subgroups:

Therians. Therians identify specifically as more animalistic creatures, as opposed to non-human creatures with human-like mentalities. Some people (incorrectly) gatekeep the term therian as referring only to “real” animals found in this world, but that is not correct. Some consider therians a subcategory of otherkin. Therianthropy used to be a separate community, and still is to some extent. 

Fictionkin. Fictionkin identify as characters or creatures from contemporary fiction. It is possible to be both, but being fictionkin does not automatically make one otherkin. Fictionkin who identify as a member of a non-human fiction species are also otherkin, but some fictionkin identity as humans from works of fiction. There’s really no fundamental difference between fictionkin and otherkin who identify as mythical creatures. All that separates the two is how old the source is.

Copinglinkers. These are people who choose to identify themselves as non-human as a coping mechanism. Some copinglinkers falsely claim to be otherkin and insist that being otherkin is a choice. They’re wrong. We have no qualms with copinglinkers in general, but copinglinkers who pretend to be otherkin are categorically unwelcomed in the kin community. It is possible to be both a copinglinker and otherkin, separately.

Otherhearted. These are people who identify with (but not as) a non-human identity, in the sense of kinship, similarity, and empathy. It is possible to be both otherkin and otherhearted, separately. 

Otherlinker/Otherlinking. An umbrella term for all chosen non-human identities, regardless of reason. Copinglinkers fall under this umbrella.

Factkin. This concept was entirely invented by trolls mocking otherkin. It originally meant people who claim to identify as some other real living person (almost always a celebrity) which is absurd and a little messed up. I don’t necessarily approve of its use to describe people who feel they were some famous person in a past life, but I’ve been hearing it used that way. You can’t be otherkin with a human identity, so I find it rather silly to use our terms, but to each their own I suppose.