“Teen Wolves,” upset me greatly, primarily because they spread so much misinformation about the otherkin and therian communities and misrepresent a majority of it. “Teen wolf,” groups help to perpetuate negative and false stereotypes about otherkin and therians, and make my life and so many otherkin and therian lives more difficult. These groups are part of an extreme fringe of the kin who are young, naive and easily misled and swayed by questionable leadership which are lacking in experience and understanding. At the same time though they exist for a reason, which is that they provide a relatively safe place to explore identity with peers in visible way. These aspects make “teen wolf,” groups highly persuasive to many younger kin who are often influenced by such groups and who are seeking validation for their identities. Often I feel like our community is not doing enough to support our younger members or be visible, which is why I feel younger community members find these groups so appealing.
I am all for freedom of expression and eccentricity that comes from groups such as “packs,” when done with awareness. This sort of expression should come though with an understanding of what you are doing and why you are doing it. Also it is important have an understanding that if you are representing a community in an extreme way and are visible it can have consequences for others who are just trying to be themselves without any of the collars, packs or tails. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t do anything that is visible or non-normative in expression, but it should be done with an understanding of what sort of picture it paints.
“Teen wolf,” groups don’t seem to see or understand this which is upsetting. Being otherkin or a therian isn’t ultimately about being special, wear certain clothing or part of a pack. Being otherkin and therian is about trying to understand, explain and cope in a world that often is not comfortable or aware of otherkin and therian identity. The sort of highly publicized activity by “teen wolf packs,” really isn’t helping make the otherkin and therian communities experiences any easier, and often leads to stereotyping all otherkin and therians as all acting in this extreme way. I do understand that as kids many teenagers feel a need to rebel against authority figures and to do things in extremes, but for otherkin and therians this can often mean going to so ridiculous and even at times dangerous extremes. “Teen wolves,” often lack the experience or sense that they’re visibility and publicity often means that they represent otherkin identity, and that labeling themselves as werewolves or non-human and acting with little regard for the consequences breeds stereotypes about the community.
This is why it is so important to me to be a mentor and role model. Being a therian or otherkin is difficult and often confusing enough even with help. This is why I feel, “teen wolf,” leaders are often so persuasive, especially when they offer members a place to grow with peers. It is important as role model and mentor to give as much guidance as possible for the younger members of our community and safe place for them to grow, and while also helping them resist the narrative of therian or otherkin identity being an act of rebellion, about dressing up or the common misconception that otherkin and therian are not human. Young community members will find guidance wherever they can, and it is important to me to support them and assist them (and challenge them with care) even if they have fundamental misconceptions about what it means to be otherkin or therian, or they will turn to “teen wolf,” groups for that support.