This FAQ currently focuses primarily on otherkin and therians, but will be expanded to encompass more of the alterhuman community as time goes on. Please send me a note if you'd like a question answered here, or if you have any comments or concerns.

*Updated May 2024*

◇ What are otherkin?

Otherkin are people who identify partially or wholly as something other than human on an integral level. Those who identify as critters found here on earth (including documented extinct species) are referred to as therianthropes (therians for short), and those who identify as a mythical creatures or beings are referred to as otherkin. Similar to otherkin are fictionkin, who identify as fictional characters (including human characters) or races. Many folks on social media use the term “otherkin” as an umbrella term to cover otherkin, therians, and occasionally fictionkin, although the lines between the communities may be less blurred elsewhere.

People may identify as otherkin in a number of different ways. Some people feel as though their soul was put into the wrong body, while others feel as though they were nonhuman in a past life. Some fictionkin believe they are another iteration of a character in an alternate universe. Some hold their identity as a spiritual belief, some believe it’s a psychological anomaly, and others fall somewhere in between. There are infinite variations (an excellent list of possible explanations can be found here). Numerous otherkin, therians, and fictionkin experience various types of “shifts”, where they feel more like their kin/therio/fictotype than they do normally. However, physical shapeshifting has never been documented, and is thought to be physically impossible.

This barely scratches the surface of what it means to be otherkin, therian, or fictionkin, and if you're questioning 'kin or want to learn more about these groups, I suggest you check out my Alterhuman Resources page.

◇ Can I become otherkin?

No*, not exactly. Otherkinity, along with therianthropy, fictionkinity, and a whole host of other alterhuman and nonhuman identities, are inherent identities; generally you either are, or you aren't. Identifying as a nonhuman entity can be interesting and eye-opening, but for many, it’s routinely frustrating, lonely, and confusing. Sometimes, all the puzzle pieces fall into place, and one suddenly awakens to their otherkinity, but that’s much different than actively deciding one day to identify as otherkin. However, there's no harm in exploring whether one or more of these labels may encompass your experiences.

If you're looking for a nonhuman identity to claim as your own, be it for aesthetics, a love of nonhumans/fictional characters, or simply something to pass the time, you may have a better experience joining a role-play forum or delving into the otherlink community. There, there's no limit to the persona you can create! And, you won't have to listen to us otherkin complain about how much we miss our tails. ;)

◇ How can I tell if I’m otherkin or not?

That, my friend, is something only you can answer. If you feel you identify non-physically as a nonhuman entity, congratulations, you're probably some form of otherkin, therian, or fictionkin, if you so choose to take the label.

If you think you may be otherkin, therian, or fictionkin, but don't know for sure, or don't know quite what you identify as beyond just nonhuman, there are a few methods that may help you come to a conclusion. Therian Nation has some excellent resources here detailing ways to go about assessing whether you might identify as nonhuman. Although referencing therianthropy specifically, this is applicable to otherkin as well.

Keeping a journal about your experiences (any shifts, dreams, possible memories, etc.) and habits can help you narrow down what you may be. Meditation is popular for helping determine if one is otherkin or not, but any outcomes of meditation should be taken with a grain of salt, as experiences while meditating can't necessarily confirm a nonhuman identity or point to the correct species. However, if you're interested, couple meditations to introduce yourself to possible kintypes can be found here (pages 22 - 26) and here. Finally, consuming media with 'kin/therio/fictoytpes you may be questioning and comparing your experiences to what's portrayed there may help you determine what feels most correct. However, keep in mind a lot of 'kin-like things are also innately human characteristics (for instance, liking steak and treasure does not, by any means, make you a dragon—there’s a reason why steakhouses and jewelry stores are so popular among humans).

Another important thing to keep in mind is that identifying with/or having a deep connection to something does not necessarily mean you also identify as that thing.  For instance, I personally feel a deep connection to house cats, and if I could choose a nonhuman form, I’d love to be some kind of cat. However, I do not inherently identify as a cat, and therefore cannot call myself a cat therian. In this case, I'd be more correct to call myself cat-hearted, which fits under the otherhearted label. If you're questioning otherkin, it may be worth looking into otherheartedness before adopting the otherkin label. It may save you some time and headaches later on.

◇ I think I might be otherkin/fictionkin, but I'm worried I'm faking it. What do I do?

As with other identities, it's normal to experience self-doubt, and even community members who have been around for years experience it. Questioning yourself to a point is healthy, and can help you understand your identity, even if questioning your beliefs and feelings can be uncomfortable.

My suggestion? Give it time. Spend some time away from the online otherkin communities, and put it on the back burner for awhile. If it's still with you a couple months down the road, even after you've stepped away for awhile, it's fairly likely you're some form of other/fictionkin, or at the very least alterhuman in some form. Once you've gotten those basics out of the way, then you can begin the introspection and analysis process, and hopefully come to a definitive conclusion about how you fit into the alterhuman community.

If, after time away and introspection, you're still not sure whether you belong in the community or not, no one is stopping you from interacting with community members. Many of us are happy to answer questions, and are happy to welcome you into our friend circles regardless of your identity. All we ask is that you respect the community's wishes and do your research so you can recognize and reduce the spread of misinformation.

◇ I feel like I've lost touch with my kintype(s). What's going on?

There are a few things that may be causing this. Most frequently, newly awakened members of the community spend the first year or more excited about their identity and deeply involved with introspection, research, and networking with others of their species/canon. As exciting as it is , that initial excitement can fade over time, and these newcomers think about their identity less, introspect less, and may even experience fewer shifts as time goes on. The identity remains, but it's not at the forefront of one's mind anymore. This is completely normal.

For reincarnated otherkin, occasionally one will experience some sort of closure with their past life, and it will fade from kintype to simply another past life that they have memories from, but is no longer an integral part of their life now as a human.

It's also important to note that identities can change over time, and there are people out there who took years to realize they were otherkin/therians, or people (including prominent figures like Lupa of thegreenwolf.com and Selroth of draconity.org) who genuinely believed they were therian or otherkin, but later realized they no longer felt comfortable using the label or didn't actually identify as nonhuman. There's nothing wrong with exploring an identity to later figure out you were incorrect, as long as you genuinely believed whatever you were exploring may have been part of your identity, and not just something you thought was cool and wanted to take part in.

◇ What’s the difference between otherkin and otherhearted people?

The basic definitions are quite close, but below the surface they're rather different identities. Otherkin and therians identify AS a nonhuman entity, while other/animal-hearts identify WITH a nonhuman entity. The same goes for fictionkin and fictionhearted folks.

Others may experience their hearted vs. kin identities differently, but I'll recount my experiences here. I identify AS a western dragon. I’ve spent a great deal of my life feeling as though I should be a dragon, and I often feel phantom body parts and dysphoria associated with being a dragon. I have urges to do things that my mind tells me a dragon would do, and I crave things my mind tells me a dragon would eat. Even so, I don't spend that much time thinking about dragons, nor do I particularly want a dragon as a pet or best friend.

However, I'm cat-hearted and I identify strongly WITH house cats. They make me extremely happy for no particular reason, I enjoy owning things with cats on them, and I would adopt a cat over any other pet in a heartbeat, despite the fact they're one of the world's most destructive invasive species and have pushed numerous animal species to the brink of extinction (keep your cats indoors, folks!). Somehow I'm still quite fond of them, even though I’ve been bitten, scratched, and generally ignored by a number of them. I feel like I understand them, and I know how to read their body language far better than any other animal. As a biologist, I know of many animals that are far more interesting than house cats that I would love to interact with and learn more about, but I don't crave the attention of these animals as I do cats. However, despite my deep connection to house cats, I do not identify as a house cat in any way, and therefore I cannot correctly call myself a cat therian.

On a bit of a side note, one does not even have to like their kintype or theriotype to identify as their kin/theriotype. There are dog therians who don't particularly like dogs, and cat therians who don't particularly like cats, but that does not make their identities any less real.

◇ What are phantom limbs?

A phantom limb (or more specifically a supernumary phantom limb) is a non-corporeal limb or other body part. In other words, it's a body part that isn’t physically there, but feels like it’s there. Experiencing a phantom body part has been described as the feeling of a presence, weight, itchiness, or pain where the body part should be. For instance, a cat therian may feel the presence of an tail and ears where a cat’s tail and ears would be on their body. Supernumary phantom body parts come in all shapes and sizes, including tails, paws, claws, teeth, snouts, spines, fur, ears, horns, fins, wings, feathers, antlers, etc.

However, if you are experiencing recurring pain where you believe a phantom body part is, it’s a good idea to see a doctor. Pain is not something that should be ignored, and can signal underlying issues.

◇ What's the difference between psychological and spiritual otherkin?

Although this varies from individual to individual, especially if they feel their identity stems from neurodiversity or mental illness, generally not much, besides their belief as to why they identify as otherkin.

 Spiritual otherkin frequently believe that they were nonhuman in a past life, but still feel their nonhuman past life/lives influence their current life, or that they possess the soul of a nonhuman entity, either through an accidental soul swap or other means. However, other explanations for spiritual otherkinity exist and explanations can vary significantly from person to person. Spiritual otherkin who believe they were reincarnated may have past life memories relating to their previous life/lives as nonhumans, although possessing memories isn't necessary to identify as spiritual otherkin. Some spiritual otherkin who do astral work may also experience astral limbs or have an astral form that matches their kintype.

Psychological otherkin believe that their otherkinity stems from a psychological source, including unusual brain wiring or brain quirks, imprinting on a nonhuman entity, and the subconscious result of trauma or mental illness. Psychological otherkin typically don't have past life memories, but the rest of their experience as otherkin often matches that of spiritual otherkin quite closely, with individuals from both groups typically experiencing shifts of various kinds, cravings, kintype-related habits, and dysphoria. It's worth noting that psychological otherkin may be deeply spiritual individuals, but don't attribute their otherkinity to spirituality.

Not all otherkin fit strictly into one group or the other, and polykin may even have one kintype they believe is spiritual and another that is psychological. Some otherkin don't have an explanation for their otherkinity, or feel it's could be a mixture of both spiritual and psychological. It really depends on the individual, and there's no belief set required to identify as otherkin.

◇ How do you know what your kintype is/looks like?

This is something I think a lot of otherkin struggle with. For therians with species that don't show a lot of individual variation, it’s pretty easy to determine general characteristics like size, body shape, etc. However, for members of species with lots of physical variation (cat or dog breeds, for instance) or mythical otherkin, figuring out what your kinself looks like can be a long and arduous journey.

A few methods for figuring out more about your kintype have struck me as being particularly useful: meditation, dream analysis, and exploratory art. I’ve never done much meditation myself, so I won’t pretend to know what works best as far as meditation goes. However, Lupa wrote a short book during her time in the therianthrope community that details a nice meditation method that may help in determining what your kintype is and/or looks like. Sometimes dreams will help reveal new details about what you may look like or how you interact with your surroundings, so, if you recall your dreams frequently, keeping a journal of otherkin dreams can be useful. If you’re artistically inclined, or know others willing to sketch up designs for you, drawing variations of your kintype can also be very helpful. Having visuals can make it much easier to see what looks right. Roleplaying or describing your kintype to others can be helpful as well.

However, it's important to take everything with a grain of salt. Meditation and dreams can reveal new things, but ultimately it’s up to you whether they’re actually part of you, or just something your brain cooked up while you were meditating/dreaming. Sometimes conflicting things feel or look right, or what actually feels right is overshadowed by what's most appealing. Some people take years to figure out what they are or look like, and a handful don't ever reach that point completely. I don't mean to scare anyone off, but don’t expect it to be a quick or easy process.

◇ Can pendulum readings or other metaphysical readings tell me if I'm alterhuman or not?

No! I cannot say this with enough emphasis. Unless you are the one doing the readings, a pendulum reading, tarot spread, or other *-mancy cannot give you accurate insight into your alterhumanity. This includes all aspects of alterhumanity, including otherkinity. An individual over the internet may not have any idea who you are or what your situation is, and getting an accurate reading about something so personal by someone who does not know you can be inaccurate at best and harmful at worst.

Even if you are doing the reading for yourself, the answer should really only be used as a guide or suggestion.

◇ Are otherkin and fictionkin internet fads?

No, not in the least. The online therian and otherkin communities have existed since at least the early 1990s, and arguably one of the first communities with otherkin and fictionkin themes is believed to have been started by a group of elves back in the late 1960s or early 1970s, long before the internet had come into being. I suggest browsing through O. Scribner’s otherkin timeline for more info.

◇ How do I tell if an otherkin blog is a troll blog?

Reading up on sources outside social media is probably your best bet on getting good at answering that question yourself. The more you know about what to expect from a legitimate otherkin, you’ll get better at identifying people who are spreading misinformation and trolling the community. Trolls can be tough to spot if you don’t know what to look for, or don’t know the context of their actions. A few good indicators may include:

The whole point of trolls is to spread misinformation and to harass otherkin, so if you see someone blatantly doing so, there’s a good chance they’re out to troll. However, don’t forget that there are always newcomers to the therian and otherkin communities, and there’s a good chance they won’t know good information from bad, or that they may misunderstand what it means to identify as otherkin or therian. If this is obviously the case, correct them kindly and move on. There’s no need to inflict your wrath on someone who is simply misinformed. Also remember that there are people out there with uncommon kin/theriotypes who genuinely identify as these things, including worms, spiders, plants, and unique monsters of every shape and size. If they seem knowledgeable about otherkinity and therianthropy, are able to articulate why they identify as their kin/theriotype, and don’t seem to be harassing others for identifying as otherkin or spreading misinformation, leave them be. 

And remember, don’t feed the trolls.

How can I stay safe in online alterhuman spaces?

Considering a vast majority of alterhuman interactions occur online, internet safety is extremely important within the alterhuman communities. A number of points in the above FAQ question apply here, but The Dragonheart Collective has put together an far more comprehensive and easy-to-read document covering safety in alterhuman spaces here.

◇ Do otherkin actually believe they physically are their kintypes?

In other words, are otherkin experiencing delusions about being nonhuman? Delusional identification as a nonhuman and otherkinity are not inherently linked, and many otherkin do not experience delusions centered around their identities, or in general, and many otherkin are aware and comfortable with the idea they inhabit biologically human bodies, despite identifying partially or wholly otherwise. However, there are members of the alterhuman community who do experience delusional attachment and endelic identities, or experience general delusions unrelated to alterhumanity. They are welcome in the broader alterhuman community and have their own associated communities and terms.

◇ How can you identify as a mythical creature if they don’t exist?

It may be different for others, but I'll recount my own experience here. I don’t necessarily know I am a dragon, but I believe it’s the label that fits me best. Based on the cravings, urges, and phantom limbs I feel, I my mind consistently points me in the direction of “dragon”. I don’t feel like the classic dragon from medieval tales that sits atop a pile of treasure and kidnaps princesses or whatever, but I most certainly feel the physical and animalistic aspects of being what I believe a western/European dragon is. I’ll admit that I could be entirely wrong about what my kintype is because a) dragons don’t exist and therefore cannot be observed to determine what behaviors they would engage in b) leathery wings, claws, horns, spines, sharp teeth, etc. are present in other mythical creatures as well, and c) I could be misinterpreting my cravings and phantom body parts and am something completely different. However, with much introspection and contemplation, I’ve always come back to “dragon” as a kintype, and I don’t think that’s going to change soon, considering I've identified as such for 20 or so years. It feels correct and at this point in time I see no reason to call myself something else.

◇ How is it possible to identify as something non-living and non-sentient (space, clouds, water, etc.)?

Well, why not? If one feels they are somehow an inherent embodiment of an inanimate object or landscape, they have a better understanding of their identity than we do as outsiders looking in on their experiences. A couple of explanations I've seen from community members who identify as one or more of these things include animism (the belief that everything, including inanimate objects and natural phenomena have souls) or belief in spirits associated with non-sentient things.

◇ Is identifying as otherkin cultural appropriation?

Otherkinity in and of itself is not culturally appropriative. Otherkinity evolved on its own, apart from closed cultures and practices, and doesn't use elements specific to one culture or belief system, nor does it force otherkin to believe in a certain set of beliefs (appropriative or not). However, culturally appropriative beliefs and themes have show up in otherkin writings and writings of other groups that fall under the alterhuman umbrella, including totems and deities from closed cultures, particularly in older writings, but these concepts are unrelated to identification as nonhuman.

◇ Is otherkinity some sort of mental illness, or is it linked to mental illness in some way?

No and no. There are mentally ill otherkin, just as there are mentally ill members of any number of other communities, but mental illness and otherkinity are not inherently linked. The DSM V has no entry about otherkin, and otherkin don't typically experience enough distress about their identities to have a significant negative impact on their lives. Otherkinity isn't necessarily always easy to deal with, but it, alone, shouldn't prevent one from getting or holding a job, taking care of basic personal needs, or maintaining relationships. Tumblr user @dovewithscales has a nice post about otherkinity and mental health (along with other information) here.

If identifying as otherkin begins to make functioning normally difficult, there may be some underlying and unrelated issues that need to be addressed. Some otherkin believe that identifying as nonhuman may have a psychological basis, but that does not in any way make it a mental illness. If you’re skeptical, make sure you’re not confusing otherkin with clinical lycanthropy or Cotard delusion.

◇ Should I call myself otherkin if I’ve chosen a nonhuman identity as a coping mechanism?

You're likely better off exploring "copinglinks". This term was coined by @who_is_page over on Tumblr in an effort to give folks choosing nonhuman identities as coping mechanisms a space of their own and to cut down on confusion about what it means to identify as otherkin.

The dichotomy here can be slightly confusing, and if you use a nonhuman identity to cope,  the key to determining which community you best fit into is whether or not you consciously chose a coping mechanism or if you are using an inherent identity to cope with stressors in your life.

For example, you're dealing with severe anxiety, and you choose to take on a lion identity because it makes you feel strong, fierce, and competent, which helps you subdue your anxiety to a more manageable level. Here, you would call yourself a copinglink. If your identity as a lion manifested on its own, without you consciously choosing the identity, regardless of whether you use it to cope, you could call yourself a lion therian or lionkin. It's noteworthy however, that otherkin identities are often stressors to some extent themselves and don't necessarily make great coping mechanisms.

◇ Is otherkinity part of LGBTQIA+, and is otherkinity related to gender or sexual identity?

No, and it's complicated. The otherkin community has little to do with the LGBTQIA+ communities, and otherkin who do not identify also as trans, gay, queer, etc. cannot call themselves LGBTQIA+ solely for identifying as otherkin. There are many members of the otherkin community who are also members of the LGBTQIA+ communities, but they are present there because they are trans, gay, queer, etc., not because they are otherkin.

Otherkin frequently publicly discount the idea that otherkinity can be linked to gender or sexual identity, perhaps to cut down on on troll harassment and/or to reduce the amount of time needed to explain otherkinity, but in reality it's not unheard of for someone's kintype to influence their gender or sexuality. However, it's important to make the distinction that, although otherkinity and gender/sexual identity may interact, they are not intrinsically linked.

The physical bodies of otherkin don't always match the gender of their kintype, and both otherkin and fictionkin alike may have past lives where they existed as a different gender, or they feel they possess the soul of an entity with a gender different than their physical bodies. Otherkin may also feel gender dysphoria to some extent when their kintype doesn't have a gender, doesn't participate in gender roles, or is not sexually dimorphic, regardless of whether these otherkin are spiritual or psychological otherkin.

◇ What are nounself pronouns?

Nounself pronouns are neopronouns designed by nonbinary individuals, and may be used by nonbinary alterhumans to fit with their alterhuman identities, although their use is not restricted to alterhumans only. For instance, a nonbinary cat copinglink might choose feli/felis, or a nonbinary faekin may use fae/faer in place of they/them.

◇ Are otherkin oppressed?

Made fun of? Sure, but not oppressed. Identifying as otherkin does not prevent us from getting equal pay, prevent us from living in a privileged neighborhood, or prevent us from having the ability to speak up about problems we have. We are not subject to police brutality because we are otherkin, nor have we been the target of hate crimes because we are otherkin.

 Members of the otherkin community may be harassed because they are women, targeted for hate crimes because they do not fit gender norms, or subject to police brutality because they are BIPOC, but not because they are otherkin. Remember this, please.

◇ Are otherkin a subset of the furry fandom?

No. There are otherkin who are also members of the furry fandom, just as there are otherkin who are members of other subcultures, but this doesn't mean these communities are inherently related. The otherkin community and furry fandom evolved separately, although it's not uncommon to hear of people entering the furry fandom through a desire to express nonhumanity, then later discovering otherkin and realizing their interest in entering the furry fandom was a result of a nonhuman identity.

◇ Do I need to have past-life memories of my kintype to call myself otherkin?

No. Do you identify non-physically as nonhuman (or in the case of fictionkin, as a fictional character or race) and is this identity something that manifested on its own? If so, welcome! That's it. No other requirements.

◇ What's the difference between otherkin, ID, and "actually me"?

Absolutely nothing. ID and "actually me" were terms coined as a result of confusion about the definition of otherkin. All three of these terms mean to inherently identify as nonhuman on a non-physical level. ID and "actually me" are frequently used in fictionkin circles as well, and, when used in that context, have exactly the same meaning as fictionkin (i.e. to inherently identify as a fictional character or race on a non-physical level). Otherkin and fictionkin are currently the preferred terms in their respective communities.

◇ Should I tell my parents about my alterhumanity?

I feel like I see this question a lot, especially with new members to the community, and there isn't necessarily have a one-size-fits-all answer for everyone. As earth shattering as the revelation is that you may not identify as human or don't fit the human narrative in some way, it's not always imperative that your parents know, especially if revealing this information can put you at risk. If you feel comfortable telling them, and you're in a supportive environment, go for it! However, testing the waters first is never a bad idea.

If you feel like you need to express your identity to your parents, family members, or friends, but aren't sure how they'll take it, here are a few potential ways to soften them up for the eventual conversation about your identity or still allow yourself some identity expression without outing yourself:

The dreaded conversation

Ways to be "out" without really being out if the conversation goes south

Have a question that wasn't answered in the FAQ? Contact me here and I'll do my best to answer it for you!