Common Misconceptions about Otherkin
- Otherkin believe they are completely non-human.
No, we are well aware that we are human. Biologically, physically, neurologically (with the exception of possible neurological abnormalities, but this doesn’t exclude the fact that the brain is completely human). I can however see where this misconception might come from given the most commonly used definition states “identifies as in part, or fully non-human”. Usually it goes on to specify that this is in a non-physical way but even so this proves detrimental to those arguing in the case of otherkin because it leaves a loophole where someone could claim to be completely non-human in every way except physically. Which still could not be possible.
This is why I personally opt for a more up-to-date and in-depth definition which explains better what otherkin are: “An individual who identifies, in part, as one or more non-human beings in a non-biological or physical way (this may be for spiritual, religious, psychological or neurological reasons). The identity is widely acknowledged to be subconscious and not chosen.“
- Otherkin believe they can physically change into their kintypes.
Absolutely not. Physical shifting is something that is heavily frowned upon by the vast majority of people in the alterhuman communities as a whole. There is no denying there are small pockets of people out there who consider themselves able to physically change into another species but they are not entertained, and vulnerable individuals are heavily discouraged from pursuing such people for their own safety and well-being.
- Otherkin claim to be trans because of their non-human identity and this hurts the LGBTQ+ community.
Dear gods, no. Otherkin is not and has never been about gender, it would make absolutely no sense. Most people who claim to be "bungender” or “schroedinger’s cat gender” are trolls. Otherkin are just as offended by these people as the LGBTQ+ community are because it harms both of us. And for many of us, we are part of both communities anyways (as legitimate genders and sexualities). There is actually a disproportionately large number of LGBTQ+ members in the otherkin community so it would make absolutely no sense for us to want to mock ourselves.
- Otherkin are zoophiles/support bestiality.
Nope. Just nope. Identifying as non-human in part absolutely does not mean we are attracted to non-human animals. We’re humans in the here and now, we’re naturally attracted to other humans now like everyone else. While like in any community you will get those people, this again is something that is absolutely not supported in this community. Anyone who excuses their actions because they are otherkin will be shunned and looked down on. It is also far from otherkin-exclusive, deviant sexualities pop up in most any community.
- Otherkin are delusional/have a mental illness.
Being otherkin in and of itself is in absolutely no way a delusion or a mental disorder. To begin with, let’s take the two terms and then go into details for each in turn.
Delusion: “A false belief maintained in the face of overwhelming contradictory evidence, apart from beliefs that are articles of religious faith or are widely accepted in the person’s culture.”
Mental Disorder: “According to DSM-5, a syndrome characterized by clinically significant disturbance in cognition, emotional regulation, or behaviour that reflects a dysfunction in the psychological, biological, or developmental processes underlying mental functioning. Mental disorders are usually associated with distress or disability in social, occupational, or other areas of functioning. According to ICD-10, a mental disorder is a clinically recognizable collection of symptoms or behaviour associated in most cases with distress or interference with personal functions. A deviant pattern of behaviour, whether political, religious, or sexual, or a conflict between an individual and society is not a mental disorder unless it is symptomatic of a dysfunction in the individual."
Both taken from the Oxford Dictionary of Psychology.
As you can see, in neither of these official definitions does otherkin fit. It is not a delusion as there is not overwhelming evidence to the contrary for spiritual or psychological believes. It also ties in with religious/spiritual beliefs. And it is not a mental disorder alone due to similar reasons and the lack of any impairment in functioning.
That said, there are many people within the community who are neurodivergent or suffer from mental health issues unrelated to their identity. But again, the identity being usually unrelated to these issues, there is absolutely no reason to equate otherkin as being a result of mental illness unless there is suddenly some in-depth research that points otherwise. A deviant belief alone does not make a delusion or a mental disorder unless it also is accompanied by significant distress or struggle in one’s life. There no doubt will be some people who fit that criteria in the otherkin community, but that is likely to be caused by underlying issues. Otherkin by the definition alone is neither delusion nor mental disorder and never will be.
- Otherkin have/claim to have DID.
This is not true for the most part. I personally have never seen anyone claim to have DID solely because they are otherkin, but if there have been people out there who do, they are most definitely a minority. Being otherkin =/= DID in any way, shape or form. There is little to no overlap.
Both involve multiple identities, but the way in which the term is being used and how these manifest is in stark contrast. Someone with DID is said to have two or more distinct identities and more often than not experiences memory lapses (and in some cases the alters may not even be aware of the others’ existence). Someone who is otherkin may have more than one identity but they are not distinct from the individual. They are an integral part of the individual and how they see themselves.
- It’s a harmful coping mechanism or roleplay taken too far.
While it is true that some people use otherkin identity as a rather questionable coping mechanism, that is not at all what being otherkin is. The term used to describe these particular people is “copinglink”. They are related to, but not otherkin, as their identity is inferred to be chosen. Same goes for roleplaying or playing-pretend, that would imply the identity is consciously chosen, which it is not.
- Otherkin are just strongly connected to/like their kintypes too much.
Yes there are people who do feel strongly connected to their kintypes. This might be a direct result of their identity, or came before their discovery in the form of really liking said kintype. However, feeling connected to something alone is not what being otherkin is. One must identify as, in part, the being. Adding to this, one doesn’t need to be strongly connected to or even like their kintype to be otherkin either. There are people out there who absolutely hate their kintype(s), or don’t mind them, but know a hundred things they’d rather be.
- Otherkin are appropriating other cultures/stealing terms!
I see this statement flung around a lot, but with no explanation as to what cultures are being appropriated or why. With no context it brings down greatly the legitimacy of such claims. There are people who feel their otherkin experiences are tied to their religious and/or spiritual beliefs, but from my knowledge there is no one culture or religion that strongly featured otherkin-like beliefs "first”.
In the same vein, I have seen many people claim that the use of terms such as “shifting” and “phantom limbs” are stealing terms from official disorders, illnesses or health issues. This is also not true. I can understand where the phantom limb concern comes from, and in actual fact the term “supernumerary phantom limb” would be better used (due to the length it is often shortened). But in terms of shifting, the term is not used officially in any psychiatric literature to refer to existing mental disorders and is a word with such a broad number of meanings the point of it being stolen or appropriated becomes moot.
There are probably misconceptions I’ve missed off or could have added more detail to, so if anyone has any additions feel free to reblog with them.