Therians and Otherkin Don't Have Exactly the Same Experiences

(originally posted to Tumblr in 2019)

So, this is a sentiment I’ve seen more and more, not only as the otherkin community has long sort of included therians as a “subgroup” of otherkin (to some debate) but as the two communities have grown closer together on Tumblr since ~2015.

Otherkin and therians (and fictionkin, as well) have historically been separate though mutually interacting communities with different cultures, topics of discussion, and experiences. Yes, there are absolutely experiences in common and ones that can and do greatly overlap, but there’s some major differences that I, as a former therian-only who came from [the Werelist] (the oldest-standing therian forum afaik) primarily had to deal with in going into otherkin and, later, fictionkin spaces. 

I can only speak for my experiences, going back 10 years, but this is what I’ve observed that other folks seem to have forgotten, not known about, or ignored:

+ Shifting is a much more heavily discussed topic among therians, was coined by therians, used to be much more broken up into the different sorts of shifts one could have, and debates and terminology discussions like [these] [here]  over non-/differently-shifting therians was a significant thing. You can read more about shifting and types of it [here]

+ Therians generally weren’t concerned as much with recovering past life memories, or indeed remembering much at all. Some did more than others, but it’s not like it would be for fictionkin and otherkin. The experience isn’t primarily based on memory of life experience for most folk, and more about habitat, behaviors, and appearance. And most memory isn't terribly exciting when you're a non-human animal.

+ Therian identities, at the time I entered the community, were very much based in more literal interpretations of experiences as matching the observed natural behavior of documented Terran animals. ([an example] of the sort of seriousness and approach folks took to that) It was expected that you rule out "normal human behavior" (examples [here] of advice for that) and that you match to generally literal feelings of being animals (an example [here] I think demonstrates what I mean.) So concepts like “songkin” are difficult to accept when your thinking is “how does one literally experience being a specific pattern of soundwaves?” That’s the place I used to approach concepts like that from, and it led to a lot of misunderstanding.

+ "Kin calls" didn't and don't tend to happen among therians, because there's generally no one to look for. Littermates/packmates/etc are far more difficult to locate and confirm when animals aren't as easily identifiable as sapient beings like elves or humans or other 'kin. It's not like it doesn't happen, but I never saw as much concern and still don't see much sense in it, just personally speaking. 

+ Therians began separately and developed separately as a community with our [own history] [and terms] and [culture], and that shouldn't be discarded and merged into "one greater otherkin community" with the idea that being separate is bad and we all have the same experiences so we should all share the same culture. That's just not how it's worked and is, in my opinion, disrespectful.

This isnt me being a therian elitist or anything, quite frankly I hardly associate with the community anymore. But there were/are differences and to see them so frequently and easily swept away and called outdated is honestly frustrating to me as someone who did have to adjust to many community differences, and I think it contributes to miscommunication between certain groups of people to not acknowledge those different community approaches.

I'm not at all saying we should totally separate and have nothing in common, nor that the therian community shouldn’t evolve past some outdated pretentiousness (lbh it’s still there), I'm just asking people to recognize that diversity of community exists and can be a good thing, and isn't mutually exclusive from solidarity and unity with similar communities with similar and often overlapping experiences.