Why I Call Myself Transspecies

(originally posted to Dreamwidth)

 "Transspecies" is a bad word in the therian and otherkin communities, and even well enough outside of them. Pushback against it is everywhere -- a kneejerk reaction, however understandable, to discourse and slippery-slope arguments used against transgender people along with some as-of-yet-unnamed hatred toward nonhuman-IDing folk, who are sometimes "allowed" to exist as long as we "don't take it too far." And calling myself "transspecies" is definitely something seen as "taking it too far," whether it be because people perceive me to be making a mockery of transgender people .... when I am a transgender person and so are many others I've known or seen who've used the word or described the experience.. or whether it's because I actually modify my body and use prosthetics, makeup, and even my mobility devices to bring me closer to what I feel I should be. I'm transitioning not only in gender, but in species.

And "transspecies" is exactly what I am -- for a variety of reasons!

So first I'm going to present a wild idea here, stick with me, but "human" is as much of a social construct as gender. This is a big idea that requires its own article, in all honesty, but it's impossible to talk about the whole of being transspecies for me without this concept. I may have said it best already here,   

"Im not human because “human” means so much more than just being a member of the species Homo sapiens. How can something be “subhuman” or “more than human” if that’s the case? How can we “dehumanize” someone, and what does that mean? Why does being “human” equal being compassionate, kind, relatable, and “inhuman” equal monstrous, evil, sadistic. If we spend so much time wondering “what does it mean to be human,” why can I not spend just as much time wondering what it means not to be?"
 
What I'm trying to get across is that the status of "human" is socially constructed. It's been granted and taken away based on things like race, ethnicity, disability, orientation, gender, and far more throughout history into the modern day. "Human" and what that means has been looked at in myriad ways by different peoples since homo sapiens could first question our own being. "Human" is not the same as Homo sapiens sapiens. And I feel neither. 

Part of "transspecies" for me is criticizing the mixed messages I'm sent by society as a queer, Mad, crippled, plural, nonbinary alterhuman that I must be human -- but I'm not human and don't deserve to be treated like one. It's saying "fine, I'm not human, and I refuse to be." With the "dehumanization" I've faced, I'm choosing to embrace it. To say "no" to every effort to make me conform to the idea of "human" that is constantly shoved down our throats. To some degree, it's Voidpunk. But that's a very recent stance I've taken on it, and it's far deeper and older than that for me, too.
 
Being transspecies to me, more than any political statement it might make, expresses a deep and lifelong species dysphoria that mixes with my gender dysphoria in a way that makes them inseparable. Since I was small, I both obviously expressed a gender that wasn't in-line with what I was assigned at birth, and clearly experienced species dysphoria over my lack of canine traits, even to a point of genuine jealousy of my dog. My therian Awakening even came to spark my transgender awakening! The feelings I had of being a wolf of a different sex gave me room to "excuse" my cross-gender behavior and self-titling until I was ready to accept my transgender self. 
 
I had a long period of doubt and self-hatred, both of my transness and my therianness, for about 3 or 4 years before I was finally ready to begin  accepting two things: 
 
1. I was and still am very, very nonbinary. 
 
2. I was and am also very, very not-human.
 
And since getting as far as I can for now in my legal transition, and having started hormone therapy and gotten on track for some surgery, I've felt both joy, relief, and gender euphoria .... and the very clear fact that something very major, beyond gender or presentation alone, was missing and still very not right. 
 
That would be the species dysphoria rearing its ugly head again, back and louder than before. It had gone both ignored and unrecognized for so long under the former transmedicalist ideology I held during that time that I had made both my gender and species dysphoria worse. 
 
Now that that toxic ideology was gone, along with a lot of my gender dysphoria, I couldn't ignore it anymore. My species wasn't right, either, and the way I presented and experienced gender was directly tied to that. 
 
If I couldn't accept both my species and gender, then my transition would go incomplete. I would be forever unsatisfied and missing something, going back and forth in search of what was "wrong" with my gender all because I'd be looking in the wrong place. And if others didn't recognize both, then they'd never truly recognize either one. And so erasing and ignoring my nonhumanity is doing the same to my gender.
 
And my species dysphoria, for the record, is bad enough nowadays that I see a therapist in part to help deal with it. (Therapy is for a lot of reasons, but it comes up often.) I talk to her about my transition and the steps I take to ease my dysphoria, and she's been fully supportive of me doing what I need with my body to be comfortable. I've almost finished tattoos on my feet that ease the serious foot/paw dysphoria I've felt for a long time, and they've gone a long long way in grounding me in my own body. In making it feel right. I even fundraised the $150 it took to get the outline for the second paw -- which amazes me still! I'm floored that enough people understood or felt for me that they would help me, and Im incredibly thankful to every single being who helped. 
 
Sadly, that's still nothing compared to the at least $4,800 I have to pay out of pocket to take further steps. Ear-pointing surgery, mask-making, Digilegs, and gods know what else I end up doing will be a lifelong struggle for me. Insurance has a long way to go before species dysphoria is any kind of recognized as worthy of their money to treat, I'm sad to say.
 
And make no mistake -- things like wearing a tail, or ears, or using programs like FaceRig, or even using my two canes (which function like two extra legs and vastly improve my mobility) are all as important as a packer, binder, breastform, or other 'non-permanent' modification that I might make to ease my gender dysphoria is. These are small things that combat my dysphoria in big ways, this "cringey" merchandise-collecting and "therian/kin gear"-wearing.
 
And the "taking-it-too-far" body modification has lessened my dissociation even more, made me feel more comfortable with myself, and helps me to feel more like who and what I actually need to be. I've come to call it part of my transition the same way I call my HRT and surgeries transition. It's all the same process to me.
 
My chest dysphoria is motivated not only by gender perceptions, but the way I feel as a changeling with a chest that looks different from what I have now. The same applies to my voice, which I want to be androgynous because of my fluid gender identity, but also because I need to have a fluid changeling voice.
 
My happiness with body hair and sideburns comes more from the joy I get out of being a fuzzy wolfthing than just confusing gender presentation by being a hairy femme. The latter is a bonus.
 
My bottom dysphoria, honest to gods, is caused far far more by my species dysphoria in the genitals department than it is any gender dysphoria I've ever felt about it, which has been relatively little-to-none my entire life. I'd even say it's strict in coming from a species place.
 
And my androgyny is not only in gender piracy and gender fuckery, but in nonhumanity, too. My gender isn't even human, and I'd much rather people look at me and ask "what is it?" being too confounded by my species to even think about my gender. One they'll never actually understand or care to beyond "I'm not like you." If I look like some inhuman creature, they'll forget trying to clock my gender because it's irrelevant. I'm a creature. And really, that's a pretty good summation of my gender anyway. So if that's how I have to get people to gender me even remotely in the ballpark of correct, so be it.  
 
So, "transspecies" comes from two places for me: both a place of "human" as a social/political construct that I reject entirely, as well as an innate and literal part of myself. One rooted in lifelong dysphoria and a deep desire to change my body to resemble inhuman beings that's tied firm to my sense of gender and body.
 
I'm transspecies because my gender and species transition are the same. And let's face it, I'm transspecies because not every otherkin or nonhuman-IDing person will feel or has felt this way. 
 
It's an overlapping thing, but those of us who actually seek modification and who call ourselves "transspecies" need resources and community spaces that not all otherkin will. Honestly, I wish my ear-pointing surgery would be covered by insurance, because it would fast-track surgery I have to save up for years for on my own to get. The Digilegs I desperately want would be great to have covered, too. 
 
Like, I'm not about pathologization and don't want "species dysphoria" in the DSM any more than I want "gender dysphoria" there. But regardless of how shit insurance is right now, I'm still stuck with it's shit system. Not having to suffer while my disabled, impoverished self saves up the money for something an unfortunate minority of people take seriously enough to think I deserve insurance coverage for would be cool. 
 
Because getting my tattoos? I fucking cried. I sobbed because I felt grounded in some part of my body for the first time. Wearing my prosthetic ears? Makes me feel far closer to how I should and leaves me feeling euphoric. Even shaving my eyebrows off made me cry because of how right it felt. Browlessness was something I admired for a decade and only then did it click why. The relief I feel is real and absolutely worth it. 

 
And who do I have to talk about this with? Very, very few people. There's not many who share my experience and publicly discuss it. Spaces to discuss our struggle would be the least we could use. And if we don't have "transspecies" to call ourselves or "species dysphoria" recognized as genuine because of a political slippery slope or discourse argument, despite the accuracy and history it has with trans people besides, then what do we have? 
What do I have to call myself and my experiences when so many otherkin will not share this experience and I don't particularly identify with "otherkin" as a word to begin with? "Nonhuman" is good, is my go-to, but is both blessedly and unfortunately vague.
 
 
"Transspecies" doesn't mince words. It's a political statement, it's a personal transition I need to make, it's part of my transgender identity, and it's the word I'm gonna use for myself because I have every right to as a trans person. This is the last time I hope to talk about the "why" in a way geared toward educating others and I can just link to this next time someone challenges me. Because I really don't like repeating myself and I'd much rather talk about how I live than Rah Rah! about the same thing forever. 
 
Here you go. I'm transspecies and transgender -- trans+, if you will -- and I'm going to embrace that.