Near-human

Near-human

I want to talk about being nonhuman, but not as a different phrasing for “therianthropy” or “otherkin”. I’m going to mention neurodivergence stuff and other concepts that I won’t define here, use your Google sense.

My view of therianthropy generally includes being human, such as we can be therians because we’re human in the first place. Right now and beyond animality, I want to talk about feeling othered and downright alienated to the point that one feels and identify as “nonhuman”. More than that, I want to talk about being nonhuman because one does not fit the definition of what makes a regular human. I don’t want otherkin to jump on this and say “I know how that feels” right away because it is like when I discuss the severity of my anxiety disorder with people and they say “I feel very anxious sometimes too, I get what you mean”. It makes me want to scream.

Ultimately, being a clouded leopard and raven only play a little part in me feeling like I am not human; sometimes it even makes me feel actually more human. I usually insist on the fact that I don’t feel “nonhuman” is a good descriptor for my therian experiences, and this is true. Like I said, today when I’m talking about being nonhuman, it’s not therianthropy that I’m bringing up, although identifying as clouded leopard and raven is one part of it. “It’s complicated.”

Simply put, it is that the sum of my experiences pushes me further away from the average person. It goes beyond simply “feeling different”. It is that I am different in very concrete, basic way. A lot of it ties into being neuroatypical; some other parts revolve around being transgender and having a trans body, and some parts again revolve around having a non-typical body in other ways than trans. There is more to that, but that’s the main stuff. It’s many aspects that add up until is it impossible for me to envision myself as human, or to relate to being human. Therianthropy is only one drop in that ocean.

Additionally there is intersectionality and grey areas between some parts and the others.

Words fail me to simply describe how I see and feel the world around me. I’m not talking metaphors, I’m talking very physical perceptions like synaesthesia and being intellectually gifted and overexcitabilities and feeling overwhelmed and stimming.

I am hypersensitive to light. Ever wondered why my website layout is light font on dark background? This is why. I also belong to that percentage of the population that gets olfactive reaction to [what I consider] bright light; sneezing. I’m also hypersensitive to touch. It’s not just difficult being touched by most in most situations, it also means I cannot get asleep if certain parts of my body touch certain things, like if the inside of my hands are too much in contact with other textures. It feels like the ticking of a clock at the other side of a room in being so “loud” that I cannot ignore it. I am also really specific about the types of clothing I can wear (still because of textures), which makes dressing complicated which merges with the issue of having a non-typical body as well. Feeling certain sensations or hearing certain sounds (like those I describe as “dry”) can be painful and will raise the hair all over my body. Just thinking of what it feels also put me on my edges.

I have a lot of issue with background noise and have a great deal of difficulty understanding speech in certain spaces. Not just at times but always, and it’s not just about noise level alone because people around me don’t experience this. I always feel terrible when I’m invited to hang out in bars with friends because as I’m not a drinker, as I’m not a smoker, and as I cannot make out what they say, I just feel very out of place and unable to engage with others in any activity. It is not related to my anxiety disorder, which is general and not social. It’s not about my ears and hearing, it’s related to overstimulation and processing auditory information. On another hand, I am oversensitive to my own sounds and get obsessed about my own heartbeat when I try to sleep. Sleep in general is difficult with heightened awareness.

Everything is too loud. I’m very sensitive to “loud people” and cannot bear standing close to someone who either make strong sounds or strong gestures. I have a well-developped sense of boundaries and have great difficulties coping with people who will repeatedly cross the borders of my personal space (which from what I witnessed is either larger or more sensitive than the people around me). This is also tied, on a lesser degree, to specific territoriality issues as a therian. Smell also comes into play, and some people’s presence I’m forced to dislike solely based on their type of personal scent. “Fortunately”, I have developed some minor respiratory issues that make my sense of smell less acute than it was, and so I can ignore a lot of signals that I couldn’t bear prior to that.

I could go on and on about sensory input and I didn’t even get to talk about my synaesthesia (my type is grapheme → color).

Then there’s my body type. Prior to transition, I was already considered “skinny”. I want to get it straight that I am not skinny but slim and that my body is pretty healthy (but what if it wasn’t? none of your business). I have an average-to-shortish size with a slender body type and an extremely light skeleton, and that is what disturbs people because it puts me way under of the standard range of sizes; people think I must be unhealthy to have this body type. They have regularly made assumption about my mental health, such as believing that I was anorexic. They’re not really paying attention.

When I started transitioning, things became gradually worse. Physically I was already a rare thing when I fell into the feminine spectrum, but as someone perceived male? It’s also difficult talking about this because I’m not fat and have never dealt with fat-shaming and therefore am not supposed to be subject to shaming and violence regarding my body somehow? Yet I’ve been. Treated like I’m sick, have a sick body and like it gets to be sick to like me. My body type “as male” does not even exist except in fairy tales. This is why sometimes I call myself an elf (not the Tolkien, clean, civilized elves; the supernatural wild wood creatures). So being an elf, in my non-otherkin way, ties into being a non-normative masculine being and being an wood-creature-thing and animal-person.

I really love my body and would not trade it for being a regular dude. But it is difficult being me, and I’ve become skittish about exposing my body in public places because of the negative feedback that I can receive and because of the impression of vulnerability people get when looking at me. Not that I’m actually more vulnerable than anyone, but people sometimes try to take advantage of me based on assumptions from my body type. I have become very paranoid about homophobia and I’ve gotten in trouble before for not being gender-conforming in my looks; people trying to grope my privates to check if I’m really male or female. One of my fears involves being exposed to violence for being a fag, and people finding out that I’m trans, and having the shit twice beaten out of me.

Nowadays I don’t look as androgynous as I used to, and the cops check my ID papers only because I’m male and therefore a potential threat, instead of checking my papers for fun and bets about what’s my gender. I’ve become subjected to the police sort of scrutiny and violence for being a man, and I’ve also become subject to homophobia. Sure, I get some male privileges in the process too, but my life has become more difficult now that I’m a non-conforming male, than when I was a somewhat-conforming female. In addition to that, becoming visibly male meant that I stopped having some privileges like holding hands and kiss in the streets safely, because I’m not straight. Even on my own, people will often perceive me as “gay” anyway.

So here I am, sitting uncomfortably between loving my body type and getting a lot of shit for being what I am. And being this amazing, impossible body, is a part of what makes me feel nonhuman. I feel like I am not human because there is no human like me. Or barely. We’re rare. But even if I find someone who has a trans body, or someone who is androgynous, or someone who is neurodivergent, or someone who is therian, etc etc etc… it is very hard not to feel alone in being all of these things together, that make sense together. Not that I feel a need for companionship, but the loneliness is what makes me feel that I am an extraterrestrial life-form lost on Earth, disguising as human.

I don’t remember if that is Sonne or another person who was discussing being a vampire as being superficially human but alien inside. “Superficially human” is a good descriptor for the type of being I feel I am. Something that looks like a human person and that can interact with human people, but with perceptions and particularities that pushes it well beyond the realm of humanity. Being nonhuman, not as a metaphor, but because being human in most definitions means that I’m supposed to be either male or female, and have brain patterns that look like that of an average human person, and I don’t know what that should be like. So in that regard, I’m not really human. Not as much human.

But that is, most of time, invisible. I don’t want otherkin to tell me that they know how I feel. I know some of them do. I know some people “have it worse” too. But I also know that being therian alone is nothing like what I feel as a whole. It gets to such a depth, when all of your aspects are foreign to the world you live in, that goes beyond simply experiencing species dysphoria. I accept that some people can be like me, but I often feel completely erased by people who jump on one element or two of what makes me “me” claiming they know what I’m talking about. What it’s like being me.

Shut the fuck up.