Otherkinity isn’t LGBT+ but Alterhumanity is Queer
Did I get your attention with that spicy take? Alright, let’s talk about it.
Something can be said to be ‘queer’ when it’s about an identity and/or a way of relating to people that transgresses social norms. Of course the word ‘queer’ centers gender and sexuality; those are the spaces it emerged out of. But queer theory has grown to encompass the study of identity politics, intersectionality, culture and assimilation in general. It’s not synonymous with LGBT+ (or any other variation of the acronym). Queer is a philosophy, one that recognizes that your gender identity - that is, the way you express yourself, the way you relate to other people, and the way other people percieve you - cannot be untangled from other social categories.
And, in terms of intersectionality, the overlap between gender identity and alterhumanity is pretty massive. Mainstream attitudes towards gender parallel those towards species: they both rely on biological essentialism. But biological essentialism isn’t a sufficiently complete model for gender or species. 'Otherkin know they’re human really’ isn’t any more forgivable than 'he identifies as a man but he was born a woman’ in that regard! More than what’s in your DNA, these identities are about the way you express yourself, the way you relate to other people, and the way other people perceive you.
Speaking of which, personal attitudes to humanity and gender are similar, too. Even if you don’t call it a 'transition’, plenty of people make changes to bring the way they represent themselves in line with their alterhuman identity. People change their names, wear clothes related to their phenotypes, get tattoos - even using a certain icon on social media is a message to the rest of the world about the way you want to be seen. Basically, you can perform your alterhuman identity in a lot of the same ways you perform gender. And we haven’t even gone into the ways that gender, orientation and alterhumanity directly impact each other yet:
- How many people in systems have complicated relationships with gender and orientation because of being plural?
- How many fictionfolk have to wrestle with having a different gender or orientation than their 'source’ character? With fan interpretations of that identity?
- How many people consider their gender dysphoria and species dysphoria comparable, use xenogenders or straight up list their gender as something nonhuman?
- How many LGBT+ alterhumans do you personally encounter in the community?
The staggering proportion of LGBT+ nonhumans, plurals and fictionfolk makes the amount of 'otherkin aren’t LGBT’ reminders I’m seeing this month that much more bizarre. These messages purposefully drive a wedge between two facets of identity that are inseparable for many people. And even if that wasn’t the case - can’t we treat it just like any other intersection of identity? What’s the difference? It’s respectability, obviously. I think, deep down, we all know we’re doing something transgressive with our identities here. And we can either seek to reconcile this by integrating that identity into existing cultural norms, or smash those norms because they’re the things causing your ostracism in the first place.
This is why I think the relation 'alterhuman’ has to 'otherkin’ is the same relation 'queer’ has to 'LGBT’ - they are non-assimilationist responses to the idea that a marginalized group’s goal should be being seen as 'normal’. We could shout over and over that 'otherkin aren’t LGBT’ in the hopes that society will respect us for it. I, personally, prefer to admit to myself that I’m weird, I’m queer, identity is performative, and I can respect my own damn self.