Transsexuals and otherkin

by lucidfox 1 min read15th Jul 2011115 comments


After reflecting on the "Gender Identity and Rationality" post, there is something that continues to bug me, a shred of doubt burning through my brain.

What is it about gender identity that separates it from fringe subcultures like otherkin, soulbonders, and whatever else? Why is one considered socially acceptable (however grudgingly and however rocky history the recognition has), and the other isn't? Is such a distinction justified in the first place?

What's so substantially different between "I'm really another gender on the inside" and "I'm really another species on the inside"? Muddling the waters is the fact that I know some transsexuals who also are or used to be otherkin.

I have seen two different points of view on this subject:

1. Well, who are we to claim that otherkin are wrong? Perhaps their condition deserves legitimate recognition and sympathy.

2. The difference is between identifying with something that verifiably exists (and exists within the psychological unity of humankind), and identifying with a species that is either non-sapient (and thus unable to be targeted by human empathy to the same extent that humans are), or flat-out doesn't exist (dragons, fae, and other fantasy creatures).

While I'm myself leaning towards the second point of view, I find the argument rather weak. It implies that in a hypothetical setting with multiple intelligent species, "species identity" may be a socially valid characteristic, and a human citizen of the Federation claiming to be mentally a Klingon would be worth paying attention to. And I find that... counterintuitive.