On “teen wolves,”

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“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.

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Dealing with mental shifts

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Dealing with mental shifts is one of the most difficult things to explain or do for me as Kin. While going to the garden at the Getty museum last Saturday I was shocked both at just how at home I felt, but also the difficulty I had restraining my urges. I wanted to dig in the dirt, roll around and play in the garden; needless to say this would not be okay in a public in front of my parents and their friends. This is a challenge I feel a lot of kin feel, mainly how does one balance constraining one’s kin side while not supressing it. This is by no means an easy thing to balance, especially in the crowded and non-wooded areas of where I live (around Los Angeles). I hope that I can explain a bit to those reading as to what it is like for me personally to find that balance between mental urges and societal expectations.

Supressing one’s kin type or therio type is something I find is ultimately a painful and difficult thing to do for us as otherkin and therians. I have tried to come up with a variety of methods of letting my kin side out in a way that attracts the least amount of criticism and negative attention. One of these methods is pet play, which to me allows me to express fully the side of me that is often quieted. For me pet play is less of a fetish (not that there is anything wrong with fetishes) and more of a lifestyle that is positive for me. Another great method I find is really getting down with animals, or at the very least observing them closely. The more interactions and closer I get to animals the more I feel at home. I also like to make fox noises whenever possible, as well as watching videos and looking at pictures of foxes. These are only a few of the methods one can use to get more in touch with their kin side or therio type. It is important respect that each person deals with their self, and to be supportive and understanding of mental shifts as strange as it might seem or appear.

It is so hard to do these activities and to shift in public, let alone having to explain these sorts of behaviour which is why respect is so important to me as a otherkin. I do my best to explain myself, but it is definitely a challenge and even this post doesn’t really do it justice. I am out to those I know and have tried to explain it to some of my friends, but often those who are not kin or therian just don’t understand because the mind-set is just so much different. It is difficult enough to explain what being kin or therian is like to those who are non-otherkin or therian without explaining what shifts are like in detail. It is like trying to explain an animal or kin mind-set to others; by no means is this an easy task even among other types of otherkin and therians. That is often how I describe it, and I usually feel the best method is not trying to give the whole picture, but explaining enough to give a picture what and how much this expression means to you. It is important to denote that I am in a very safe and supportive environment but urban environment, and I understand that to many others this is even more complex issue to deal with and live in more wooded areas where shifts might be easier to deal with. Everyone has their own methods to talk about this, but I hope this information is helpful to those dealing with shifts, and even those who are outside the community and are seeking to better understand it.

On representation

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One of the biggest struggles as being an otherkin is meeting others like who identify as otherkin in person and dispelling misconceptions and stigma about what being otherkin. Most people seem to believe that otherkin in general reject their human side entirely and to be very pushy. This makes it hard to talk to someone about being otherkin without them coming into the conversation with a set of assumptions and (mis)conceptions about my identity. People often fail to understand that this hurtful since my personal identity is very much a part of me and my experience, and not something others should be judging or could entirely understand. The fact that people not part of the community immediately people come in with the preconceptions that I am nuts is really distressing and shows a lack of respect for my autonomy to be myself. This makes it hard to know who I can talk to about my identity, especially since many kin are not vocal offline about their identities.

As kin we often shy, secretive and distancing ourselves from others. We often don’t share, because we are afraid of the judgement of others, othering and the lack of understanding from those outside the community. As I feel more and more close to my identity the more I realize I stray from common social conceptions generally embraced about communication and closeness to animal (in the sense of companionship and relating). I often feel that as humans we are hugely egotistical animals that take up space, rather than sharing it. I’d often much rather act like a fox doing pet play kink, or hang out on the ground with an animal than speak with many of selfish and demanding people in this world who judge me. I also enjoy wearing fox ears and a tail during these sessions and often there is a misunderstanding especially by less experience kin that these activities are related directly to being otherkin. While that could easily to an outsider appear to be the case, I feel that these traits while related are more of a sense of personality and personal style rather than an element of displaying otherkin identity, but regardless that people should not be judged negatively for who they are.

I am aware though that most people are not like this and usually don’t understand this mentality. Often I feel like we in the Kin community like many communities forget this aspect, and that most people see the radical and visible side of the community or often assumed communities (including identities such as furries, kink pet players, or those claiming to be a supernatural creature, etc…). These people in the otherkin community tend to be radical in representation, as a result being highly visible and often not reflecting the typical otherkin experience or expression of identity which is typically much more solitary or small group. This is discouraging, because it makes being an otherkin and having pride in that identity so much more difficult and even cause some Therian’s to shun those who identify as kin.

This often means that offline as a community generally don’t seem to meet with each other and often even these meetings tend to be secretive to avoid unwanted attention. This is troubling to me, because it further other’s us as a community and restricts our ability to be genuine. It also makes seeking representation and finding community space difficult, and even dangerous. The most problematic about this, however is that it perpetuates the misconceptions about being kin based on those who are seen, which often then rubs off on outsiders and those new to the community. While I really wish and think that those who do not identify as otherkin would go out to find accurate information about the community, I cannot really fault them so much because as a community we haven’t really created an easy to access or comprehensive explanation about our identity or stories of our kin experiences or memories.

Even in the queer community as a transgender woman where information is easily available I find that realistically we have to be our own educators and activists as unfair as this usually is. I feel like it often is up to us to explaining which can be tiring and is difficult when trying to speak about such a vast community. I feel like the first step to easing this process is being able to come together in person, as difficult as this is, and inviting those outside of the otherkin community to join us and learn. I know for many kin this is a difficult first step and will need to be a process. It is never fun to be one of the first or to put yourself out on a limb especially with a generally misinterpreted and mocked identity, but I think that we could find a better visibility, sense of community, and representation. Being a transgender woman I also suppose that I am experienced with being ostrocized and othered, which is both a blessing in the sense that I have not as much to lose and a curse that I am already under so much emotional pressure. Regardless I hope to live by my words and bring about a change in attitude among those outside of the community and I hope that those within (or even outside) the Kin community reading this will be encouraged to be proud of who you are and to do the same.

On transphobic kin

Transphobia in the otherkin community

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I really wish I didn’t have to tackle this topic, but it has been one I have sadly run into recently. Both identities are unserved in very different and unique ways, and should be supportive of one another’s struggles. I have increasingly, however been seeing a move towards transphobic commentary from within the kin community, which needless to say is bad for both communities. Instead of bridge building or education, individuals within the community are using their identities and struggles much like TERF’s to attack and sow conflict among these two communities. Additionally, however these groups also exist it seems as a means of justifying the appropriation of the transgender community’s identity and struggle. This is quite sad, because both communities really need support and have unique identities, challenges and experiences.

To appropriate transgender experience, is insulting, doesn’t make sense and makes the otherkin community seem dependent upon the experience of others. Gender identity and inner spirt, soul, or species based identities are NOT THE SAME THING. Thus it doesn’t make sense for otherkin to be included within transgender identity, an identity based upon gender. These are two separate and autonomous identities which are not mutually exclusive, and should be allowed to be autonomous. Many otherkin don’t seem to have a understanding of gender identity or theory, and ignore the pressing question of what they would get out of being connected to a community based upon GENDER IDENTITY. Trying to include otherkin in this category of gender identity also serves to undermine the distinct qualities of otherkin identity, as well as the concept of the intersectionality of identities.

I have seen many accusations by extremist otherkin groups (which seem to be similar to feminist extremist groups,) claiming to be silenced and left out of the transgender community and discriminated against by transgender people. As someone who identifies as both otherkin and transgender, this seems like a extremely generalization (many of my most supportive friends are transgender) which perplexes and frustrates me. Many of these individuals use otherkin identity as a licence to spout trans-misogynistic rhetoric and as a platform for transphobia. Again this not only hurts the transgender community, but also heightens conflict between the two communities and does nothing to develop education or improve conditions for either community. It really confuses me as to why these groups want to be part of the transgender community , while at the same time seeming to dislike it so much and why they would want access to gender based spaces and conversations? The otherkin community has enough issues and needs within its own identity, why would it want to take on the many additional needs faced by transgender individuals (most of which aren’t even understood by these extremist groups)?

I see so much hypocrisy when trying to engage in dialogue with these groups, to the point where they seem to refuse to acknowledge or accept transgender kin. These spaces tend to quickly become (if they were not already) highly transphobic, and oddly enough are unaccepting of anyone who identifies kin identity and supports or is part of the transgender community. As part of the kin and transgender communities I feel that the otherkin identified individuals can and must do so much better then these transphobic groups. We should and can build bridges, share our experiences, educate, and have a variety of autonomous identities, rather than burn bridges, engaging in appropriation and striking up counter-productive conflict. The sooner as a community we distance ourselves from any form of transphobia or hate of any kind the better it will be for both parties involved.

What being Otherkin means to me

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I am often asked what does it mean to be Otherkin? What is being Otherkin all about? This is by no means an easy question to address within a community as diverse and unusual as the Otherkin community; which is often mistakenly labelled as a subculture. My own definition of an Otherkin is someone who has retained a connection with a non-human identity. This could mean an animal, spirit, or supernatural being and this connection can vary. One important thing though to denote is that those with Otherkin identities are and should always be understood as HUMAN. While the connection Otherkin have can lead to various shifts, unusual habits, memories and beliefs, and self identification is something I very much believe in, it is still very important to denote that most rational Otherkin don’t believe that they are shapeshifters or that they have non-human abilities. Often times both those within and outside the community get this point wrong or misinterpret these aspects which can often be problematic. It is always important to respect peoples personal believes within reason, but it is always important to keep in mind that Kin are human and have human limitations.
 
I try to have an open mind about others belief systems, though even with that in mind there are some very crazy fringe people making bold claims I feel that are detrimental to the community (as with any community). This sometimes puts me into a difficult situation politically where I don’t want to fall into the aggressively skeptical or critical camps of self-expression, but I also wish that certain members of the kin community would stop making bold and unrealistic claims that makes the difficult and complex task of building understanding from those outside the kin community, as well as trusting and supportive allies even harder to do. I support people who wear dog collars, animal ears and tails, and as well as those feel they have a need for blood or energy (as long as they are safe about it and get consent) as these forms of expression are not particularly harmful, but I do have a problem with people claiming to lived currently for thousands of years or who can physically shape shift which sadly does come up in the Otherkin community. That being said I feel that as community is important to learn to trust in the experiences of others and be accepting even of certain beliefs held by others can seem outlandish, and trust in the ability for others to form their identities (both key elements of self identification). I feel that many of the things I personally believe and are a part of my identity as Kin can be difficult to understand by those both within and outside the community, which is why I feel it is so important to be open to others and to give them the same respect I expect from them.
 
From my personal prospective I have a number of traits that I can’t really explain in any other way other than being Kitsune Kin. I have vivid memories of a past that form a story that I really can’t find a better explanation for, despite constantly self reflection. These memories are not related to my current life, and often end up slipping into my brain. While sometimes the connections between these memories are hazy, the actual memories I have can also often be detailed and seem to belong to experience I have never had. I can understand why those outside of the community or even who do identify as Otherkin could be skeptical of these memories; however these feelings and experiences are important to me and have shaped who I am and often can manifest during mental and phantom shifts.
In addition to these memories I have four phantom tails (similar to the concept of a phantom limb) that are constantly apparent, as well as other phantom traits at times such as perky fox ears or sometimes even a pointed snout. I also have periods where I like to express (note that expression does not equality identity) and do things that generally might be associated with a fox such as sniffing the air, growling, digging, curling into a ball, rubbing my head against things, licking, tilting my head or yelping. I personally find animal role play (which is very different from otherkin identity) relaxing and affirming to who I am.
 
These traits could easily be seen as a signs of mental illness (which perhaps they are), but my expression and identity does not harm to me or others, and makes me feel like I can be me. While these behaviors, memories, experiences and forms of expression can sometimes make my life a little more difficult as they challenge social norms and are often aspects I feel uncomfortable sharing with others, overall my identity and expression as Kitsune kin and someone who loves foxes makes me content. I find power in being myself rather than hiding who I am (something I have learned through the adversity I have experienced), which allows me in turn to feel more empowered in my various struggles such as with body image. Being Otherkin is being a part of who I am, and regard to how my experiences and expression I will stand by that identity and others who share similar identities.

Shifting

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Shifting or as I like it becoming the self takes a variety of forms for each Otherkin and Therian. First off to get out of the way for anyone new to the community and to clear things up, I nor as far as I know anyone experiences physical shifting. As a Otherkin I can’t magically transform into a fox or part fox being, and those who claim to have such ability to do so often are not telling the truth, dreaming or having a particularly strong mental shift. I do however have phantom shifts often, mental shifts a lot, and occasionally dream shifts. Shifting for me is like viewing a part of me, not really so much of transformation as it is a embracement of the self.

My most common shift type like many Kitsune is phantom shifts with my four phantom tails. While they may not be present physically I can literally feel them often. They are like having an invisible limb similar to a chest (for those with breasts at least), they are always present but sometimes I forget that they are there sometimes. I have to reposition myself often, however while sitting to accommodate these tails so that I am comfortable and make sure they aren’t caught in things (easier said then done O>O). I also many times feel phantom ears, and other fox limbs like paws or snout especially during mental shifts. Often during major shifts I get more physically clumsy

Mental shifts are very unusual for me. Besides the typical fox type activity such as barking (which is hard providing the high piercing sound of fox barks) and wanting to sleep under a tree, I have other unusual emotions. I tend laugh a lot regardless if I think something is funny or not (I tend to be easily bemused in this state though), and tend to become more bitter about the world around me. I tend to be a bitter person by nature, but I get especially bitter during these states and don’t like noise or conversation. I also tend to pull up memories of my past life during these periods which tend to be vivid and relate to my current situation in some way. I tend to get impatient with people during these periods and feel a need to be alone.

In terms of other shifts I occasionally have astral shifts during mediation and dream shifts. Usually dreams tend to be recollection from the past or reflect my feelings. It is during these dreams though that I feel truly free to be myself. I can feel the world and environment around me especially when I shift and my sense of smell also tends to get more acute.

Sleepy

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Lately I have found myself feeling more sleepy then usual. My sleep schedule seems to be weird and I am tending to have less productive, more nightmare ridden sleep and a lack of energy during the day. I hope that this will end soon, I’d prefer not feeling tired so often. I have learned as a graduate student who is over worked and stressed to value sleep. I think I’ll be heading off to bed soon. Just thought it would be good to include an update. Feel free to ask me any questions or topics in the comments that you’d like me to cover ^>^

Welcome!!!

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Welcome to my (Nami Raven Hatfield) blog a place where I will talk about my experiences as a Kitsune kin, transgender woman, and Shinto/Zen Buddhist. As you are probably aware I am a very unusual person even for a graduate student in UCLA’s Library and Information sciences department ^>^ I have a obsession with all things Japanese and plan on posting a Haiku each week as well as about my life. I am working on three major projects including a digital archive, a podcast for LGBTQ fandom, and am a major project archivist in UCLA’s LGBTQ archiving project. I am also the LGBTQ centers librarian, a ethnomusicologist, and Shakuhachi player. Enjoy ^>^