One of my favorite characters to pretend to be was Mega Man.
I specifically remember owning a black Adidas rain jacket.
In the late summers of North Carolina, rain often comes unpredictably and leaves behind oppressive humidity. Most other kids solved that problem by tying their jackets around their waists.
I found a more amusing solution: I’d wrap it around my lower arm in a bunch. It looked like Mega Man’s blaster.
|I got my gun from beating Jacketman.|
I liked Mega Man, and I identified with what he had versus who I was.
As a weak, scared little kid I wanted to be powerful, and fight robots, and have cool anime hair.
For a moment, I could pretend to be him rather than the skinny computer nerd with the weird voice.
But what if I actually thought I was Mega Man?
What if I became upset when people referred to me as a person rather than a cyborg?
What if those childhood memories became a part of my self-actualization?
They can, readers. Let’s go to a place where we never grow up: the internet!
Otherkin is a blanket term for people who identify as something other than human. Like trans* or queer, the term becomes a lot more complicated from there, often expressed as *kin for the different kinds of identifications. There are dragonkin, catkin, demonkin, elfkin, trollkin (referring specifically to characters from Homestuck) fictionkin…the label is infinite because according to otherkin, people can identify as literally anything and be considered legitimate.
People can even identify as other people.
Some of the most controversial members of the *kin community are those who identify as “multiple.”
These people believe that multiple souls or personalities, real or fictional, live inside their “headspace.” For instance, one could believe Sherlock Holmes, Sephiroth, Tyrion Lannister, and a fairy interact with each other on some sort of astral plane. This could potentially be due to dissociative identity disorder, role-playing gone too far, or perhaps a genuine belief. It’s a case-by-case basis, and difficult to tell.
|Tyrion Lannister after finding out someone identifies as him.|
It’s unsure exactly where otherkin got started. The Wikipedia article (I do legitimate research, guys) claims that it started in the early 90s on Usenet. One of the earliest and most well-documented examples of otherkin on the internet exists in the FF7 house, an entire home full of people who identified as characters from Final Fantasy VII. It is likely there was some otherkin crossover with the role-playing community, due to similar interests in fantasy and sci-fi. Vampires have also been a long-standing staple of the *kin community; popular site Les Vampires dates back to 2001, according to the Wayback Machine.
|Five! Fiiiiivveee members in my multiple system, ahhh ha-ha!|
Otherkin, along with most other marginalized identity groups, now make their primary home at tumblr. There is a huge amount of crossover between *kin, trans*, queer, and various other sexual identities.
Just as personal pronouns are important to other identities, many otherkin prefer to be called “beings.”
It is difficult to say that otherkin truly provide “milk” as a community. Despite my earlier Peter Pan joke, most otherkin are pretty sane, respectful people who just want to continue being a dragon or unicorn or whatever. And that’s fine.
Indeed, otherkin milk is rather passive: they’re interesting and amusing simply because they exist. The community has joined together to form some rather strange stuff, including a hypothetical “otherkin restaurant.” Dishes there would be tailored to specific kinds of kin, which could cause some problems, given the nature of animals to eat each other.
Otherkin are also extremely controversial on tumblr and get into debates over the legitimacy of their identities. However, even this is not really “milk.”
Just like any other alternative identity, the otherkin label is subject to exploitation for potential attention-seeking or less-than-legitimate purposes. One of the most famous multiple otherkin on tumblr, The Pawfeet Collective, partially identifies as Eric Harris.
If that doesn’t ring a bell, perhaps this will.
The Pawfeet Collective is a 25 year-old person – though not technically, I guess – who has a system of over 20 people in his head, one of whom is a dead teenager who killed people at his high school. TPC has defended Eric in several posts, claiming that he HYPERLINK "" believes in “second chances” and that Eric was a “kid pushed too far.” They also claim that Eric expresses regret for the crime to other members of his system. Though they have the power to make beings “leave” their system, they apparently cannot control that Eric entered his head. Of course.
TPC also insist they have no mental disorder. Members of their system answer questions on the tumblr, switching between each other frequently. Like many *kin, TPC receives an extreme volume of hate mail. Identifying as a spree killer is definitely an easy way to do that.
The Big Picture
We live in a time where personal identities are becoming more complex. Only a few decades ago, you were either a straight boy or girl. Then you could be a gay man or a lesbian. Now, with the growing emergence of trans* culture, it’s pretty hard to define what gender is. Otherkin are another logical step in that progression. If we can’t define gender, can we define humanity?
Some would question the legitimacy of an otherkin identity, and they certainly have cause to do so. Its almost universal overlap with fantasy and mythology makes it sound like a child’s pretend fantasy way past its expiration date. Likewise, saying you have a murderer living in your head seems like a desperate play for attention. It’s like that annoying girl from your high school, the one who identified as straight but made out with girls at parties to get attention from dudes.
|“Yeah dude, I totally saw Hannah and Chelsea making out the other night. FUCKING RIGHT, BRO!”|
The skepticism is enhanced by a frequent trait amongst lolcows: the internet as an enabling mechanism. Many otherkin may not have even been otherkin until they discovered it was a thing they could be.
The issue with questioning otherkin identity is that, well, we really can’t.
Just as an asexual pangender heteroqueer (I just made that up) might not understand how I’m a cisgender guy who likes cisgender girls, I’m simply unable to understand how anyone could identify as a damn unicorn. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a “wrong” way to identify even though unicorns are obviously not real.
|I WANT TO BELIEVE|
Despite this, I ask that you please respect my new identity. I am Jon, the BMW M3.
|My only preferred pronoun is “badass.”|