(This post was originally shared on Tumblr here. I’m in the process of evacuating personal content from that service here, as I’ve developed minimal faith in the data integrity of their service. The first publication of this post also never made it to other social media accounts I own, such as on Twitter and Google+, which WordPress allows me to share with automatically.)
As a reminder to readers, I’m an otherkin dragon. I don’t talk about it much these days because it factors casually into my identity; it just sort of fits. But, it’s an omnipresent factor that colors what I say and how I act, and occasionally, this surprises people.
The way this works for me is, through a combination of research into human psychology, cautious assessment of my subconscious responses, identification and journaling of my personal preferences, and picking at other related corpora of data, I’ve identified myself as having affinities that do not make much sense in the human spectrum. In addition to a diagnosis of Asperger syndrome that gives evidence to this misalignment, my preferences, reactions, thoughts, and shared associations with others make a bit more sense with the phrase, “I am a dragon”. This assertion isn’t one of physical form, but rather, one of preference. For reasons that are not yet adequately explained, I strongly prefer identifying myself with my dragon nature and all that comes with it.
Affirming this view is the fact I know several people in the same metaphorical boat that I am. These people share many of my same preferences, emotional reactions, and qualia that I do, despite being separated by long physical distances, long hereditary distances, and having existed within relatively isolated peer groups. Such independent verification of details that are very personal to my psychological makeup makes me believe something is going on here, and for lack of a better identifier, “otherkin” and “therianthropy” are two terms that fit.
While I do not have credible proof for or against, I also accept the possibility of multiple lives and existences. This, once again, makes a conjecture’s worth of sense: it tidily explains my natural deviancy as experiences that resound with me and drive my emotions, beyond what are found in my base neurological state and my set of experiences since I was born. But I have no credible proof free of confirmation bias, just transitive attempts to bounce these thoughts off people (including myself) to see which are shared or shareable.
Within these, I’ve constructed a personal narrative of myself. This is readable as sort of a bard’s tale of who I am: full of bias, unverifiable, and likely wrong in several key points where the data is corrupted. But I want to write this somewhere public, so people can find this and why it matters so strongly to me:
- My actual name isn’t Goldkin Drake. The phrase “Goldkin” was constructed somewhere in 2006-7, as a portmanteau of “gold dragon” and “otherkin” that happened to coincide with a real term for a type of dishware and an uncommon last name. “Drake” was added when I was asked for a surname a few years later. It is my primary identifier because it is pithy, plausibly deniable in contexts that require a wallet name (yes, I worried about this long before G+), and a name I personally appreciate on these points. I have even considered changing my legal name to a variation on Goldkin, but I haven’t yet.
- My dragon name is Kedrasii, which is pronounced in three syllables: “keh”, “dra”, “see”. Imagine this rolling off of an elongated snout that distorts the sound somewhat, uses the lips less prominently, and provides slightly more guttural intonation. That’s what it sounds like. An archaic rendering of this (which I used as early as 2003) is “Kedrasix”, but this had the habit of making people pronounce the last syllable incorrectly. The honorific version, “Kedra-yama” (literally the name, but more so) has also been used by me in a few places, most notably Horizons: Empire of Istaria. The base name is literally just a visual identifier: substituting in “gold dragon” would be a roughly equivalent translation.
- At the other end, we have surname. I literally did not have one until very late, and it’s a rather long (four word) honorific title ending in clan name. Only the last word is important here. “Y’sheko” is a decent transliterative form, though I have also seen “Y’shirko” used. The pronunciation is “eee”, “she”, “koh”, which roughly translates, “clan of the sun.” I’d be a liar if I said we weren’t a little vain about our appearances, which ran the gamut from yellows to reds and ruddy browns.
- To identify someone would be saying, “[you/that] brown dragon”, which I was commonly called in indirect sunlight (giving hints at what my scale color and their luminous properties actually are).
- In all experiences I have pieced together, I am generally a solitary thinker, philosopher, creative, and scholar. Rarely, I will step into a command position above others when I believe it is necessary; my nature is more independent and quiet, and I can go for very long spans like this when working on especially difficult or nuanced personal goals that interest me.
- The gold dragon you see by this post is a rough approximation of the form that most resounds with me. I may be fiddling with certain aspects in some of my illustrations soon. But, these are primarily based on how I’d prefer to represent myself that please me, instead of any throwbacks to a supposed physical form.
- “Mirror dragon” is a better approximation of what I prefer to be called, but I do not know the right syllables to construct this title. The reason for this is personal, but I liken myself more as a reflection and reinforcement to the abilities of and properties of others, if that makes sense.
- I experience physical dysphoria frequently, often for this form, though the exact nature of these feelings vary. I use male as a gender for ease of identification, for example, but it’s not strictly correct. I use simulations to manage these to a degree, which I don’t talk about much. Perhaps I should bring it up more?
This is sort of scratching the surface, but I wanted to start small. It’s not easy for me to keep my personal weirdness cooped up in my mind all of the time, especially when others may be feeling the same way.
So, that’s that for now. Feel free to ask more if you’re interested, but please be gentle: this is somewhat private information that I’m deciding to describe publicly for the first time, because I believe others may find it interesting and useful.
(This is a response to this post on Tumblr. I tried using Tumblr.app to post this and had my entire message disappeared into the ether. So, I’m using WordPress for better message durability.)
I’m outlining a short book of advice for people who are otherkin. I’m writing the first draft of a chapter on harassment for being otherkin, and how to deal with it.
Otherkin and therian folks, how big or small of a problem has harassment been for you? What do you do to deal with harassment? If you’ve got good strategies, I’ll credit you in the book.
I’ve experienced this both in person and online. I’ll describe these separately, because my experiences in each diverge so greatly.
In person, I’ve not experienced much overt harassment, so much as low-grade pressure and shaming for holding beliefs that are not within a popular mindset. This came primarily from my family (of Catholic and Mormon descent) and home society (primarily South Floridian Latino culture) while I was growing up, and extreme pressure was placed on me to conform without compromise and suppress any personal deviance from these strictures. This severely curtailed my abilities to express and explore my identity until I was 18, when I finally obtained more personal freedom.
This is a specific kind of pressure that adamantly demands you conform to being a person that you are not. My best advice when dealing with this is to remain true to yourself, maintain a reasoned sort of stubbornness, and to remind to yourself often that there are others like you. Even larger communities do exist (I live with a group of dragons, for example).
Online, I’ve experienced harassment a bit more directly. This comes in two flavors: from individuals, and from those who feel empowered to represent themselves as a group.
When individuals contact me with messages that are terse or distasteful, the prevailing majority of the time I find it due to confusion. When the other party expresses a legitimate desire to understand my position (for example, not understanding how I express phantom limbs) and are relatively polite about it, I’ll try to help them understand (in this example, by sharing references to body image theory and earlier posts I’ve made describing how this works for me*).
If, on the other hand, the person’s message is drowned out by noise, such as aggression or overt trolling, then I will outright block the individual. I usually feel remorse when I do this, because I just lost someone’s perspective, but I can and do find better conversation elsewhere.
People representing themselves as part of a group, however, are trickier. I find in these cases that I am often not dealing with the individuals, so much as their particular agenda when they choose to fly a banner to do their dirty work. For example, back in the late ’90s and early 2000s, Something Awful and Portal of Evil made sport of publicly harassing otherkin and therians, posting personal details and instigatory, hateful diatribes about individuals whom described themselves in intimate detail or ran popular websites at the time. These would be chased by group representatives posting spam and additional hateful messages to the sites selected, and occasionally, denial of service as well.
I was on Tysha’s Dragon Forum when SA attacked it. I am also good friends with several survivors of this particular shade of poo slinging. In these cases, technical damage control and professional counsel is the way to go. A quick disable of new account registration, null route of bad traffic, and quiet vigilance while you talk with legal counsel can go a surprisingly long way.
I think that in all cases, empathy and vigilance are the best courses of action. After all, you are in a situation where you feel attacked, and desire to know (1) why and (2) how to make the best of the situation. Whether it’s well-meaning family who want their version of what’s best, to a random person who doesn’t understand how you express a phantom tail whom genuinely wants to understand how that works, to a popular hate group on Reddit having just posted damning messages about you and to your private fora, keep a cool head. Act with exactly as much compassion as the situation demands, and take each step with both eyes open.
But, most importantly, do not let the risk of harassment force you to compromise on yourself. This will require taking risks, but there is nothing stopping you from learning how to protect yourself and being prepared.
* Rather elaborately, as it turns out. I’m reminded that I should spend more time describing this.