Neofelis Nebulosa

Neofelis Nebulosa

Summary of what Clouded Leopard feels like, because the old writing needed an update. Technically, I’m always clouded leopard and there is no distinction in how I experience felinity and humanity, but I’ve wanted to keep a short blurb somewhere for others to read about some of the things that are more distinctively clouded leopard.

Clouded leopard is the smallest of the big cats, being part of pantherinae, and pushes leopards’ nervosity and elusiveness to its extreme, seldom seen in the wild. It is appropriately described as ghostly. Secretive. Rare. Clouded leopard is specific – feline, leopardy, and unique, in that order. Its body is a paradox with its humble size and its impressive paws and teeth. My canines are never big enough, because clouded leopard’s are as long as a tiger’s, on a cat ten times smaller. Clouded leopard is a sabertooth very much alive, alive alive. I’m being clouded leopard when I am short and seemingly awkward and my body is a ball of muscles and intent hidden as goofiness. I’m being a clouded leopard when I feel my phantom teeth and ears and so very long tail, when my skin is spotted and marbled with cloud-like shadows and my jaws want to bite your neck hard.

You may touch clouded leopard but never hold it tight. Places you may scratch if you belong to the right category of individuals: back of the head, nape, shoulders, tummy. No touching the ears, face and feet, especially as it reveals the species dysphoria. Eye contact must remain light, non-intrusive. Sounds need to be moderate; crowd-talk is disorientating. Clouded leopard is introversion. Asocial. I’m introverted ’cause I’m a clouded leopard and I’m introverted because of intellectual giftedness, and intellectual giftedness is a raven thing and I’m a raven and clouded leopard. Still there is a need for visual, olfactive, tactile and other stimulations and novelty. Clouded leopard is the going back and forth the mind and body, sensory input, processing, adaptability, awareness, overexcitability. Touch and tongue and taste. Perception and intuition. Depth.

Clouded leopard is about intensity, but not about rage. It can be grumpiness, arrogance, cynism, and sharp edges (but less so than Jaguar). Clouded leopard is a balance of withdrawn and fierce, anxious and playful; it’s a Cat. Clouded leopard walks between worlds, between small and big felines, ancient and modern, natural and supernatural, and as such it is the liminal cat by essence. Clouded leopard is watching as the world goes on from afar; belongs to the deep forest. It doesn’t need anyone, except those who entertain its curiosity perhaps. Clouded leopard likes to be heard, but does not like being the center of attention. It is straight-forward, it does not tolerate nonsense, and it’s putting efforts into what is efficient, and not putting efforts into what isn’t worth it. I am clouded leopard when I’m careful in spending my inner resources, when I’m calculating, when I’m judging.

To me being clouded leopard is about being out in the city at night. The blue hour. Being self-conscious in broad day light and seeking for the shades. Walking in urban settings, as much as walking in the forest. Feeling a kinship with other felines but especially leopards – snow or regular – and jaguars and, maybe to a lesser extent, with ocelots, marbled cat and ancient felines. Being both graceful and clumsy at the same time. Not being the biggest predator-creature-thing out there, and content with it. Shying away from crowds. Rubbing my nose and cheeks against my partner’s shoulders. Amber, musk and sandalwood. Petrichor (“the distinctive scent which accompanies the first rain after a long warm dry spell”). Drums and thunder, and bass guitars. That urge to climb everything, anything. The way biting into tender meat makes me feel. And so many other sensations I don’t know how to put into words.

This is my small contribution to the exploration of therian animality, from the perspective of one clouded leopard individual.

Gentle Strength

Gentle Strength

I have a complex relation to Jaguar. If there is anything like a personal power or archetype for me, it is that. It’s something that I lean torward and something that is me, but not the way I am clouded leopard and raven. Not really. At the same time it is as real and intense.

I grew up as Jaguar. Before living as myself, a clouded leopard and raven Liminal being, I lived as Jaguar for a long time – strong and self-confident down to arrogance, smart, stubborn, angry, unstoppable. Did not accept weakness, did not accept failure. And for a long time, it worked. And people were either fascinated, or clashed very much, but in all case I didn’t care what they thought of me. I went on fabulous adventures and accomplished my dreams and life was good.

And then someday all the pain and abuse and what I went through earlier in life caught up with me, and I developed a severe anxiety disorder. I got very sick and depressed and shut down completely. I exhausted myself by trying to live up to Jaguar standards when it wouldn’t work. I had less and less energy to spare for pretty much everything, anything. Jaguar kicked me in the butt repeatedly for not doing anymore the things I used to be able to do. I hated myself for it, and that felt like I was becoming the opposite of the person I used to be.

Eventually I had to put aside my pride for a moment and try and ask for help. This was so humiliating to me that I had delayed and delayed it again until I couldn’t do otherwise. For the first time in my life I was ready to let people have an impact on my path.

I happened to meet by chance someone with an anxiety disorder who had gone through everything I went through, and had taken the decision I was just taking, and who had gotten better for it. We talked a lot, one night, snuggling against each other on a bench because although it was the middle of summer the weather was so cold. His example gave me hope and purpose. Instead of trying so bad to be the person I was before, maybe I could just too move forward to get better. I had to accept that there was no going back, and that I may be scarred for life, but there was a Future for me.

I realized that I wasn’t in a dire situation because I was somehow weaker or worse than anybody, but because life had been really tough to me – even though I had never wanted to admit it. What I considered “normal” and “okay” for a long time actually wasn’t at all. I realized that it’s human to be vulnerable, and that being vulnerable and accept it actually requires Strength. And asking for help actually may not be important because of what you expect other people to do for you, but because it means you no longer fear to take the necessary steps to get better even when it costs you some.

Everything Jaguar had taught me seemed all wrong. I realized Jaguar nourished some really toxic attitudes towards the Self and Others. Jaguar was destructive rage. Jaguar never allowed for a break. Jaguar never showed empathy and assumed it was in position to judge others. Jaguar’s way was supposedly the only way. I did all these things, but it’s not following Jaguar’s answers that I got better.

It’s by redefining my standards more healthily and allowing myself to be gentle, caring and patient. Accepting that I don’t have all the answers, that since people had a hard time figuring what I was going through, I too had to accept that I could never know truly, perfectly what other people may go through. And all the while, I stopped being so angry all the time. In part because it was a waste of my energy to be angry at myself and others, and in part because I no longer cared about the way other people led their life. Whatever floats your boat. Which doesn’t mean that I can never be critical about some attitudes, but I react differently than I used to.

I think I may have written before about this metal bookmark that Chaos – a duiker/puma animal-person – offered me years ago. It has the chinese for “Strength” and the following quoted from St. Francis de Sales by Ralph Washington Sockman: “Nothing is so strong as gentleness and nothing is so gentle as real strength”. When I received it, I was still following blindly Jaguar and could not understand the quote – that was not Strength to me. I had to go through the life-changing experience of developing my anxiety disorder and fight it, in order to know what it meant.

If there’s one thing, other than some compassion, that this disorder has taught me, it is that I am fucking resilient and have all the Strength I need to get on with life, deep down. Pursuing a goal isn’t only about being stubborn and pushing my limits, but also about knowing how to spare my resources and accepting to change an inadequate strategy. That I won’t get very far with my metaphorical car if I never take care of it. That if I take small steps, it’s still better than going backwards. And that if sometimes I have to get worse before I get better, so be it.

I am nourishing a whole new Jaguar now. A Jaguar that has learnt from being clouded leopard and raven. One that drives me to get through what needs to be done and fuels my projects, but without feeding negativity when I decide to do it on my own terms. One that doesn’t center pleasure around productivity but around quality. One that allows oneself to be vulnerable and accessible as part of being Strong. One whose sovereignty doesn’t walk over others. One that controls its destructiveness and toxicity for safer, healthier attitudes and relations.

There is still much left to do, but I don’t have to stress over it anymore. I can just get on with it.

On the appropriation of trans narratives by therianthropes

On the appropriation of trans narratives by therianthropes

I’ve never been active on otherkin forums so I cannot speak for otherkin and will only refer to the therian community. I’ll use citations a lot because I believe it is important to frame this article as part of a larger debate among therians (and beyond) about animal identity; I want those who have contributed to the discussions over the years to reclaim their stories and feel empowered by their participation, rather than let non-therians define instead of ourselves what we mean by the words we use.

Therianthropes are people who identify in part or whole as nonhuman animals; who feel they are some kind of nonhuman animal inside, instead of or along with being human. As I am writing this, there has been a lot of discussion on some websites about the differences and similarities between the transgender realm of experiences and therianthropy. This has been especially true on Tumblr, where a small part of the social justice community has reacted negatively at the use of words like “transspecies” and “species dysphoria”, calling it an appropriation of transgender terms and experiences.

I am writing this essay in order to summarize my views on the issue, and I speak from the perspective of a white, middle-class, neuroAtypical, transmasculine therianthrope with an anxiety disorder. I’m also a grad student in the social sciences but this isn’t a scientific paper; the answer to the question “why not?” is “because I have too much academic work on my plate already”. Beside, I’m not a native English-speaker.

For clarification: I use the term trans not as a short form for transsexual or transgender, but as an umbrella term also inclusive of genderqueer, gender fluid and other non-binary identities. I will refer to non-trans people as “cisgender” or “cis”, a term used to fight against the idea that trans people are abnormal and that “non-” should be the norm. Cis people are individuals whose gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth.

First I want to dispel the myth that words such as “transspecies” and “species dysphoria” emerged from animal-people and otherkin dabbling in social justice on Tumblr. “Transspecies” can be traced back with certainty in the therian community to at least the late 90’s, when the famous social platform simply did not exist. Going through the archives of the usenet group Alt.Horror.Werewolves, the birthplace of modern therianthropy, you could read these comments:

There are many diverse individuals on this newsgroup who hold a link to therianthropy: the different kinds of shifters, the trans-species folks {animal in a human body}, and those like yourself with animalistic characteristics.

The Wind King, 1997, AHWw.

For many people, there is no separate “animal side,” they *are* the animal. […] Others within this category are “Transpecies” even “Transgenders” or both.  This is a case of “Oops, wrong body,” where said person feels they were intended to be born into a different existence, be it another species or another sex.

Jakkal, 1998, AHWw.

Before I did a search on the web, I didn’t know what words to use to explain my feelings. I used to use the term “transspecies”, taken from the term transgendered.

Red Dawg, 1999, AHWw.

I’m aware that some of these are simplistic explanations of what transness is and I address that point later, but it is interesting to note the early use of “transspecies” as one possible variation of therianthropy. Further indication that “transspecies” was in use before Tumblr can be found in other websites and news groups, as with the following citation – which by the way illustrates that some therians had already engaged discussions and critical thinking about the intersectionality between therianthropy and other subjects, namely ethnicity:

The community [ethnic_kin] is for the discussion of the intersections between ethnicity and Otherkinism, therianthropy, species dysphoria and transspeciesism. Anyone with deep interest in both is welcome to join.

Raki, 2004, LJ community “Therianthropy”

Body dysphoria is defined as the feeling of unhappiness, anxiety and discomfort with one’s body, and generally a symptom of a body dysmorphic disorder. Species dysphoria, then, can be understood as a type of body dysphoria/dysmorphia related to one’s physical species. Prior to the growth in popularity of the phrase “species dysphoria” in therian communities, there had been numerous statements relating to being an animal mind or soul “trapped in the wrong body”. A couple of examples:

I wake up every morning and face a form that does not feel like me.  I suppose it is bad enough for people who are too thin or too heavy – they can often remedy the problem with a change in diet.  It is worse for someone who finds themselves to be the wrong gender – there is surgery. What do you do if you think you are the wrong species?

Coyote Jack, 1994, AHWw

many of us again feel that we were born in the wrong body and were meant to be animals instead of humans [this is no more insane that the plight of your average transgender--they feel they were born in the body of the wrong gender]

Windigo the Feral, 1996, AHWw

Likewise, the results of a 1995 AHWw survey were reposted by Ashikaa; they indicated that out of 25 participants, 28% felt they were “born into the wrong body”. In 1997, 56 answered the poll and, according to Utlah, 50% said “Yes” when asked about being born in the wrong body.

Because people have lacked the language to describe their therianthropic experience to others, the parallel with trans narratives has offered a way to better explain therianthropy to those not familiar with the concept. It would be tempting to assume that therians who use this terminology are appropriative of trans stories and leave it at that, but things are not as simple.

First we need to define appropriation: generally understood as cultural appropriation, it is the taking of cultural expressions, beliefs or artifacts from an usually marginalized group by a more privileged collective or individual. Frequently, it involves the misunderstanding and misuse of terms and practices that are taken outside their contexts.

To demonstrate that therianthropes are appropriating trans narratives, we would need to prove that therians constitute a privileged and distinct group from trans people; and that they are misunderstanding the language they’re using. Outside of the fact that this is taking therians as one homogeneous group with no intersectionality with other issues whatsoever, it is overlooking something essential: the fact that trans people themselves have always been present in the community. Windigo, quoted above and one of the people who used “transspecies” the most frequently in the archives of AHWw, defined himself as “a windigo–a male windigo at that–in a female human body”.

I’ve corresponded for years through LiveJournal, Dreamwidth and other sites with a good number of trans therians like myself, among which Liesk (author on “The Marsh”), Ozen (who owned the domain name “tranimal.net”), or Merf (aka “Mamma bear”). Quil, whom I got to know in 2004, also is one of us; on an essay no longer available on his website he wrote:

My mindset is a mix of leopard and human. Physically, however, I am human and only human. Maintaining my leopard instincts in a human world is a tricky thing. A therianthrope/were/transspecies/animal person is human plus animal. Most people aren’t.

Quil, 2004, in “Two Viewpoints”.

Emphasis is mine. Here we can see “transspecies” as one of several valid alternatives for “therianthrope”. I too suggested that “therianthropes could be called transpecies” (sic) in a 2005 comment on LJ. We’ve also suggested body dysphoria as an experience distinctive of some people’s therianthropy:

That evidence, though, doesn’t say to us “This person is really an [insert animal here.]” That evidence says merely “This person really does act like an animal, and probably really does think like one, too.” You take that evidence, and you take your body dysphoria, and you can prove therianthropy. Not scientifically, certainly not, but you can prove it to yourself.

Quil, 2006, in “Animality Defined”.

And because Liesk had already eloquently addressed the issue of language in defining who and what we are, I feel it is important to remember his contribution to the larger debate:

I can describe a male as having XY chromosomes, testosterone as the dominant sexual hormone, and possessing both primary and secondary male sex characteristics. But this cannot begin to describe what a man is, how a man is different from a boy, what the nature of masculinity is, and the various ways in which male-identified people, in all of the bodies and sexes they come in, regard themselves and their gender. As a male whose body nowhere near fits the physiological, hormonal or genetic criteria, I must seek the latter interpretation. This again falls prey to the question of language and how it applies to the real world. If gender is a construct, to what degree can we allow it to affect our lives, and how can be build sexual identities as human beings that bring us fulfillment and (here it is again) a sense of self?

There is little here that does not apply to being animal inside as well. Since we are clearly not physically the animals we feel we are, we must look to redefine our approach to animalness and species. How we approach this, in fact, gives further definition to who we are.

Liesk, 2006, “Seeking the Self and (Hardly) Making Sense of It”

Since the 2000’s, trans and genderqueer therians seem to have become increasingly more present and visible than in the general population. In a 2011 poll about sexual orientation and gender identity on the Werelist – one of the most popular therian boards – where multiple choices were allowed, out of 148 voters nearly 19% said they were “Gender Fluid”, above 7% identified as “Transgender” (the category included both MtF and FtM transgenders and transsexuals), while over 16% of participants voted “Other Gender Identity” (some individuals, for instance, identified as neutrois, bigender and more).

Trans animal-people are real. We had been exploring animality and gender through art and writings since long before Tumblr’s social justice warriors found out about therianthropes and tried to teach us what being trans is about.

Back to the “realness” of therianthropy and species dysphoria, about fifty people answered a 2013 poll by Jarandhel on the Werelist that asked “do you experience significant, regular depression or discontent due to your body being human?”; 56% of replies were positive. A genderqueer participant pointed out that the data may be skewed because there was no option in the poll for “experience species dysphoria but not depression”, which is what would better match his and some others’ experience. Several individuals reported that they did not feel depressed per se but that they felt disoriented by their human body and its “mapping”.

Not every therian experiences species dysphoria, feels like they were born in the wrong body, or would modify their appearance to look more like their theriotype; not everyone identifies as “transspecies” either. But the data gathered when therians are asked about how comfortable their are with their human body also depends on how the question is phrased and not solely on the diversity of individual experiences.

Whether it was worded in terms of species dysphoria, “true form” or “wrong body” narratives, one topic that has been debated over and over again since AHWw has been that of surgery and body modifications to make oneself more comfortable with their human body or look like their theriotype:

So far, I’ve three tattoos and one pierced ear. Both the tattoos and piercing have special meaning for me, related to my wereness […] Would I get other, more radical body modifications, if they were someday possible? Fangs, claws, real fur? Heck yeah. Sign me up now. :)

KatmanDu, 1997, AHWw

Yes, it would be cool to have things like dog-like ears, pointy teeth, claws, etc. etc. But until I could get over my twitchiness around plastic surgery, and until I could be absolutely guarenteed of zero further health problems from the surgery, I would never do it.

Dinogrrl, 2003, LiveJournal community “Therianthropy”

Personally, I suffered from severe depression related to [therianthropy] for about 30 years, and at times stood home from work because of it. I never thought about surgery, though, because even if that were remotely possible it would be inadequate compared to actually being in an animal form. [...] I’ve learned to cope better as I got older [...] I can’t think about that all the time or I will be depressed and dysfunctional.

Claycat, 2009, the Werelist

in my case, if physical transitioning was possible for therians and I had the chance to do it, I’d think about it logically and decide not to. I’m sort of the therian equivalent of genderfluid, so a permanent transition isn’t going to help much. […] But some therians would give anything to transition and never look back.

Blue Sloth, 2012, Susans.org (transgender resources, in “Comparing Therianthropy to Being Transgender for Illustrative Purposes”)

Similarly to what is found among trans people, the wish for surgery may be moderated by other factors such as potential health issues, how realistic it would look, and whether or not one would actually have the body of the “real” thing [species, gender] after physical transition – and that isn’t even delving into monetary concerns, though a lot of time people did not discuss potential costs of species surgery and such as, because they were highlighting the lack of medical options in the first place.

Unlike with people who are transgender, there is no transition that I can go through, no injections, no surgeries, no real help to turn to. […] There are no therapists dedicated to species dysphoria, no organizations, no medical or other mental help doctors or facilities. It feels like you are completely and utterly alone.

Anuolf, 2009, the Werelist

Individual experiences may differ from one another. Animal-people may use “dysphoria” to cover a wide range of realities, from severe depression and suicidal thoughts to the more fleeting feelings of discontentment with one’s species – but trans people are no different in that regard, sometimes mentioning dysphoria as a core component of their transness, sometimes simply talking of days they feel more or less “dysphoric”. I’ve seen people claim that therians can’t experience dysphoria because identifying as another species “is not possible”, because it is “stupid” – but this is no argumentation. A more adequate question maybe would be, are “species” entirely outside of the realm of social constructs and personal identity?

There seems to be a general agreement nowadays that gender is a construct, while sex is a neutral fact of nature (and, likewise, species) – but the truth is, what constitutes a “sex” has been subjected to as much socio-historical variations as “gender”. At times, male and female bodies were considered part of a same spectrum, at times they were considered to be two distinct species. Concerning today’s medical practice, it is as much arbitrary to decide that sex organs measuring under 0.9cm must be female and those above 2 or 2.5cm must be male. What about everything that falls in-between? Other categories of individuals are completely dismissed; it is difficult to argue that science is being objective and factual on this matter.

Pushing the idea further and as a provocative paper, Anne Fausto-Sterling wrote “The Five Sexes” to question the idea that only two sexes would be biologically correct (indeed, the existence of many forms of intersex variations show the wide range of natural occurrences of other sexes than the traditional male and female). Obviously, the author was not advocating for an actual revision of science from two to five sexes – but her proposal was meant as food for thoughts.

Likewise, species is not an issue that is solely biological either. It has been discussed whether chimpanzees and bonobos should actually be classified within the human genus Homo, seeing that they share 98% of their DNA with us (99,4% in another study). Conversely, some scientists have argued for the inclusion of humans in the Pan genus. However, the inclusion of other types of hominoids in the same genus as humans would force us to reconsider what exactly is “human” – as for now a human is defined as a member of our genus “Homo” – with consequences both on how we classify our extinct ancestors and on whether human rights should be applied to other species.

We should also keep in mind that in the past the humanity of some people was denied and some groups were considered closer to nonhuman animals than humans. What constitutes “humanity” has been subject of centuries of philosophical debates, and the boundaries defining “human” has always been rather blurry and shifting depending not only on scientific progress but also on cultural and historical contexts.

There was a time where gender dysphoria and the desire to alter one’s sex was considered a delusion, which justified the use of intensive prolonged psychotherapy to supposedly “cure” trans people. I don’t think we should dismiss too quickly the experiences of a category individuals just because it pushes further than our usual boundaries. It’s important to acknowledge how serious and undermining species dysphoria can get for the people who experience it; it is not a mere whim:

I feel an overwhelming desire to be my theriotype physically. […] It is extremely debilitating, with it affecting my every day life. There has been days where I can’t do anything more than sit and mope or sob uncontrollably. I’ve played hooky from work more for my species dysphoria than I have for an actual illness […] It feels like a horrible joke is being played on me.

Anuolf, 2009, the Werelist

Being otherkin caused me extreme dysphoria and contributed greatly to my depression as a teenager. I do feel it affects every aspect of my life. It’s fundamental to who I am. I really do feel like I fake being human (and I’m not very good at it). Meanwhile, I had strong feelings about my gender only twice during my teens (including 18-19) which is… confusing… I do have dysphoria now, but I’ve gotten more used to it.

Edge, 2012, Susans.org (transgender resources, in “Comparing Therianthropy to Being Transgender for Illustrative Purposes”)

i just feel physically sick and awful because my body needs to look like that. my hands need to be talons. my hair needs to be feathers. and i want it to be realistic. […] just, fuck you all, THIS IS A FUCKING MEDICAL CONDITION for me, it does negatively affect my quality of life, i don’t care if it looks fucking stupid to you or you “grew out of wanting to be an animal when you were 5”, i don’t give a fuck because whether it looks stupid or not, THIS IS WHAT I FUCKING NEED.

ninmenjuushin, 2012, on Tumblr

We’ve seen that not only a part of the therian community seems to genuinely experience feelings of dysphoria/dysmorphia regarding their animal identity, but many animal-people actually have a first-hand experience of gender dysphoria or trans identity as well. Claiming that the therians who discuss their animality in terms of transspeciesism are appropriating trans accounts of selfhood actually is erasing the existence of trans therians and silencing their voices.

I am tired of being denied the right to compare my experiences of being trans and therian together, especially when it is argued by people who aren’t both in the first place. If they don’t experience both conditions, no legit comparison can be made. At the same time, I also want to warn against trans therians who play the gatekeepers for all of us: there is no single answer to the question “is being trans like being therian”. For some trans therians, the experience is similar in some respects; for certain others, the two have nothing to do together. There is no consensus between us because it depends on individuals, therefore there is no definite answer on the subject.

I’m going to paraphrase myself from an earlier essay, but I think one of the problems in this debate about the use of gender metaphors to discuss animality, is that people have started equating being trans with being gender experts. Only, everybody has an experience of gender identity and can say for themselves if they feel dysphoric or not. It is perfectly okay for cis animal-people to say “I don’t experience significant dysphoria regarding my anatomical sex, I identify with the gender I was assigned, but that’s the point: I feel it is the opposite for my animal identity, like I was assigned a species in the social sense and it does not match”.

Some people have felt offended by the concept of therianthropy and “transspeciesism” because they have failed to make an important distinction: there is a difference between drawing parallels between two abstracts concepts like animality and gender on one hand, and on the other comparing the social reality of trans and therians together. There is no arguing that trans people face specific forms of oppression, including institutionalized ones, and that it does not mirror the experience of therianthropes as these have no public recognition (which doesn’t mean that therians never get trashed for being different, either). However the concept of gender does not belong to trans people specifically; what belongs to trans people are their own identities and struggles.

So to summarize: equating the struggles of trans people with that of therians is problematic; comparing gender identity and animality is usually fine; comparing trans experiences and therian ones are okay if one is both trans, therian and not making generalizations about others.

Regarding the debate on the “appropriation” of dysphoria by animal-people… again trans non-therians do not own the term and have no right to command who can and can’t use it. A couple of pertinent quotes:

I’m trans, human, and you’re a stupid fucking asshole.  Stop trying to “protect” my identity.  If trans people are so fucking bent out of shape by others saying “dysphoria” maybe let them step up to the plate and talk about why, because I’m looking at the word saying dys- means “bad or ill” and phoria “bear, bearing, to carry” not, “A word trans people use to describe themselves hands the fuck off.”

bestthrowawayevah, 2013, on Tumblr

the term “dysphoria” is used in a wide range of communities, not just in terms of gender […] The eating disorder community uses it a lot, along with the lesser known “body dysmorphia,” and so does the body positive movement and even some communities that don’t use it to refer to identity so much as a feeling of displacement.

Khamaseen, 2013, on Dreamwidth.

Beside body dysphoria, “species identity” is commonly found in therian narratives. In my 2004 introduction to therianthropy, I defined therianthropes as “people whose species identity does not match their biological body.” On BeingLion.com, Kusani – who defines herself as a “human-male cat-female weird-ass genderfuck” – used the metaphor as well in her own “Introduction to Animality” (2009). In my 2006 writing “Animal-people Folklore”, I wrote about the invisibility of other-than-human existences in society: “[individuals] can call themselves gender-variant, but species-variant people don’t exist. We all are homo sapiens and there is no word for species identity, and no pronoun for animals.” My more recent articles mention the concept as well, and Liesk has been using it since at least 2005:

Like I’ve said before, I identify with each of my species — I identify with humans, I identify with deer, and I identify with canines, individually. But they have to be together to represent my species identity. “Canis dichotomus sapiens” works for me because it shows them together. They’re ‘ingredients’ of the whole here.

Liesk, 2005, in a LJ comment; emphasis mine.

Outside of the therian community, at least one research paper has used “species identity” before, concerning the furry community:

Furries are humans interested in anthropomorphic art and cartoons. […] Dichotomous responses (“yes” or “no”) to two key furry-identity questions (“do you consider yourself to be less than 100% human” and “if you could become 0% human, would you”) produced a two-by-two furry typology. […] One-quarter of the furry sample answered “yes” to both questions [...] This type of furry has certain characteristics paralleling gender-identity disorder. To explore this parallel, the furry typology, and the proposed construct of “Species Identity Disorder” needs further research.

K. C. Gerbasi, N. Paolone, J. Higner, L. L. Scaletta, P. L. Bernstein, S. Conway, and A. Privitera, “Furries from A to Z (Anthropomorphism to Zoomorphism)”, Society and Animals 16, 2008

It should be noted that some furries actually identify as therians, and conversely some therians participate in the furry fandom. Furry and therianthropy are not one and the same, however. Although the paper did not mention “species dysphoria” specifically, “species identity disorder” is very reminiscent of the idea.

Of course species dysphoria is generally not acknowledged as a mental illness in the DSM, and claiming to have species dysphoria would be considered self-diagnosis. I could argue that some therians have sought therapy for a reason or another and told their therapist they identify as animals; and that some of these professionals labelled the experience naturally as “species dysphoria” or “transspeciesism”. This is true, but I don’t want to go that road.

The DSM actually does not meet unanimous approval from professionals or from the “mentally ill”. Many transgender activists have asked for the removal of the transgender condition from the psychiatric nomenclatures, as it is not a mental illness. As a transman, I’ve fought for the right to decide for myself who and what I am without being subjected to the authority of a self-proclaimed expert. I knew I was trans before any doctor told me their opinion on the matter; it is not because at some point of history trans people appeared in the DSM that we are real. I didn’t need anyone to tell me what my gender identity is, and I’m certainly not going to help doctors own the right of labeling myself and other therians as species dysphoric.

No matter how rare “species dysphoria” is in the scientific literature, it is useful to us therians to describe a set of experiences and feelings. Why would some cisgender and trans people claim that trans identities are not a mental illness, that only trans people have the right to label themselves as trans, and yet use the diagnostic of gender dysphoria to assert gender-variant people as more real than therianthropes? This is quite a paradox.

It is very important to remember that if trans people had not used self-determination and self-diagnosis in the 50-60’s and on, insisting to their doctors that they would need hormones and surgery to get better, then they would certainly not have had results. For people who want to know more about this, I strongly advise to read Meyerowitz’s book “How Sex Changed – A History of Transsexuality in the United States”. If trans identities have become more legitimate and accepted, it is because trans people themselves and their allies (among which a few doctors but not only) actually have fought for it against the will of the global medical community.

So is self-diagnosis necessarily problematic? I don’t believe it is. As Tsu – author of the writing “Birdtistic” on having autism and being a swan – has put it, “do some people make mistakes in self-diagnosis? Of course, but a lot of doctors make mistakes in diagnosis too”.

What is problematic with the “wrong body” narrative of trans people is that it has become mandatory to deliver in order to gain access to physical transition, because it is the story doctors want to hear, assuming that all trans-people experience dysphoria and trans identity the same way. Likewise, one issue with applying “species dysphoria” and the “wrong body” accounts of animality to therianthropy would be if it becomes the only legitimate way to experience it – but so far people have usually insisted on the fact that neither species dysphoria nor some other experiences such as shifting are mandatory to be labelled a therian.

I believe that the growing number of visible trans therians in the 2000’s and on, with their alternative accounts of animal identity, have helped in some respect the larger therian community to explain their therianthropy more in terms of identity and perceptive experiences, instead or along with other explanations such as the spiritual ones (simultaneously, the visibility of neuroAtypical therians and the discussions on atypical neurobiology also played their part). While there had been infrequent uses of parallels with gender identity since the apparition of the online therian community, they remained isolated cases; terms like “species dysphoria” and such did not gain that much popularity until trans therians and their allies became more visible and vocal in discussion groups and personal websites. More and more, non-trans therians have found this framework relevant for therianthropy and have too used the language of gender (and of social justice) to discuss therian matters.

Never has this exploration of animal identity threatened trans people and our access to health care*. Therianthropes simply do not have the power and means to discredit trans identities. Rather, it is non-therians who have repeatedly tried to discredit therian identities, claiming that they are ridiculous and worthless by presenting the concept of therianthropy as insulting to other minorities (who “struggle with real issues” sic). The logic here would be that therianthropy is not a real phenomenon; but we saw it is. The actual issue is people trying to be gatekeepers about who can experience what and what is real, making up hierarchies.

*Of course I’m aware there has been one conservative article written about transspecies and transgenders mocking the two, and it could be argued that therianthropy is used as a way to criticize transgender people and their supporters. However with an examination of the rhetoric used I think it is clear that it is not the existence of therianthropes that caused such hostile view of trans people, and folks have not waited for therian visibility to dismiss “gender theory” entirely. More importantly, history should have taught us that the right answer to the hate of minority groups has never been the hate of more marginal minority groups.

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.

La thérianthropie en tant que “nature”

La thérianthropie en tant que "nature"

Je reprends ici en français des points développés dans certains de mes textes de 2011 et 2012. C’est un peu brouillon et chaque partie mériterait d’être approfondie, ce que je ferai peut être dans des articles séparés.

Il y a ce concept de l’animalité venant en particulier de thérianthropes mais qui ne se limite pas à eux; en effet, c’est une simple reprise d’un discours répandu plus largement au-delà de cette communauté. On peut le résumer à l’idée que notre identité animale de thérian serait une chose avec laquelle on nait, une qualité essentielle de notre être qui fait de nous ce que nous sommes; une espèce de vérité authentique à l’intérieure de nous qui primerait sur le reste (notamment sur l’éducation et autres influences considérées comme externes).

L’animalité relèverait de ce qui est animal, un trait dont les humains seraient généralement dénués ou qu’ils seraient capable de dépasser car supposés au dessus ou autre qu’animal.

Ce concept de l’animalité comme essence va de pair avec une vision dichotomique (disons dualiste) qui conçoit des associations telles que “animal-nature-instinct” en opposition à “humain-culture-raison”. Car l’animal serait ce qui est à l’origine sauvage, dont les réactions ne seraient pas teintées par quelque influence que ce soit, tandis que l’humain serait le produit de la civilisation – de sa culture (une chose dont tous les animaux non-humains seraient dénués). Et le thérianthrope, étant supposé plus proche de l’animal non-humain que l’humain ne l’est, est pensé comme ayant des réactions plus instinctives ou comme étant plus libre des effets de la socialisation humaine…

Outre le fait que c’est un discours très réducteur sur les animaux non-humains, allant notamment à l’encontre même des recherches récentes sur le langage de certaines espèces ou la transmission de pratiques entre différents groupes… je pense qu’il donne aussi une représentation problématique des thérianthropes en plus de servir d’excuse à tout un tas de comportements sous couvert de “c’est naturel” alors qu’il s’agit de tout autre chose.

Personnellement, ce n’est pas du tout la façon dont je me conçois en tant que thérian, même si je pense que c’est important de reconnaître que certains thérians se vivent effectivement ainsi. De la même manière que certaines personnes trans auront un discours binaire sur le genre et diront par exemple être littéralement “femme dans un corps d’homme” ou être des hommes “parce qu’ils ont toujours aimé les jeux de garçons et détesté les poupées” (quand bien même des garçons peuvent jouer à la poupée ou détester le foot), il y a des thérianthropes qui définiront leur animalité de façon stéréotypée et essentialiste.

Et cela ne veut pas dire que ces personnes ne sont pas des “vrais” ci ou ça; tout ce que je veux dire c’est que c’est un discours sur soi, et pas nécessairement représentatif de l’ensemble auquel il se rapporte. J’aimerais à la fois que les personnes qui découvrent les thérianthropes ne condamnent pas le concept juste parce qu’ils ne sont pas d’accord avec certaines des représentations véhiculées; et d’un autre côté, j’aimerais aussi que certains thérians se posent un peu plus de questions sur ce qu’ils appellent leur “nature”, ce qu’est supposé être un “animal sauvage”, et tout un tas d’autres idées préconçues sur lesquelles ils peuvent s’appuyer pour prouver la légitimité de leur animalité.

Pour ma part, quand je dis que “je suis un corbeau” ou “un leopard”, je ne prétends pas être la réplique d’un corvus corax ou neofelis nebulosa dans un corps humain. Je ne dis pas que je suis par essence, intrinsèquement, tel ou tel animal. Je ne suppose pas ce que serait faire l’expérience du monde dans un corps qui ne serait pas humain, avec un cerveau autre qu’humain et sans avoir été élevé dans une société humaine, parce que je pense que ça serait présomptueux. Ce serait ignorer certaines réalités au profit d’une croyance. Ce que je dis sur moi-même est plus qu’une métaphore, mais ce n’est pas essentialiste; c’est ma manière la plus directe de dire “j’ai des expérience sensorielles et plus qui sont particulières et me poussent à m’identifier à quelque chose d’autre qu’humain, et dont l’approximation la plus proche serait simultanément un félin de type panthère nébuleuse et un corvidé du genre grand corbeau.

Maintenant… c’est bien parce que je ne m’identifie pas de façon binaire que cela me pousse à questionner des “évidences”. Ce n’est pas que je recherche spécialement l’entre-deux, mais je me retrouve souvent dans “l’ailleurs” car il existe rarement de formules toutes faites qui soient en accord avec ce que je suis.

En ce qui concerne la thérianthropie et ce qui nous définit en tant que personne-animales, ce n’est pour moi pas une question de “nature” (spirituelle ou biologique) supposée pré-existante au reste. Et j’emprunte aussi l’idée à certains courants de l’éthologie, pour moi l’animalité n’est pas une qualité en soi qu’un être possède ou non, c’est avant tout un concept humain qui sert à distinguer les animaux non-humains de nous-mêmes, sinon pour désigner la part la moins humaine et dont il faudrait se distancer, s’élever au-delà. Par exemple en niant sa dimension corporelle, ses désirs et ses sentiments, pour laisser place à la valorisation de l’esprit et de la faculté de raison. L’animalité relèverait d’une nature “basse” ou “basique” dévalorisée par la plupart des humains.

Mais le fait est que l’animalité, on la possède tous (ou encore, ce n’est qu’une idée et elle n’existe pas réellement). Ce n’est pas une chose concrète et mesurable en nous, pas plus qu’on ne peut mesurer ce qui fait de nous des hommes, des femmes ou autre chose (je ne parle pas de sexe anatomique, mais bien de la dimension identitaire et sociale). C’est une idée. Il n’existe pas de supposée “animalité” qui soit commune à toutes les créatures sauf les êtres humain. Les humains n’existent pas en dehors du “règne animal”. Plus on étudie les créatures non-humaines et plus on se rend compte à quel point les différences (biologiques et autres) sont plus faibles qu’on ne se l’imaginait. Mais ce n’est pas mon intention de revenir ici sur ce genre d’acquis, pas plus que de faire un cours sur les transidentités ou l’intersexuation.

Il y a beaucoup des traits que certains thérians soulignent pour justifier leur animalité, mais qui existent en fait plus largement chez les autres êtres humains. Les thérians ne sont pas vraiment “plus animal” mais tout au plus dirons nous plutôt “différemment animaux” que les non-thérians. Par exemple l’expression de la violence n’est pas plus a/normale chez les humains que chez les non-humains, et donc chez les thérians. Je trouve ça pathétique d’utiliser son identité animale pour justifier d’un comportement violent. La seule différence entre thérian et non-thérian se situera tout au plus dans la forme: le thérian peut grogner au lieu de crier, griffer au lieu de frapper. Mais la thérianthropie n’est pas une excuse pour tyranniser les autres ou pour “se lâcher”. Il y a une différence entre thérianthropie et irresponsabilité, entre son identité animale et son refus ou son incapacité à gérer ses pulsions.

Je pense qu’il faut parvenir à lâcher un peu prise sur nos idées reçues de l’animal, au final on ne prouvera jamais notre animalité particulières. Etre, au fond de soi, un homme ou une femme, c’est indémontrable. De la même manière, la thérianthropie est indémontrable. On aura beau se raccrocher à tel ou tel trait en argumentant que c’est bien là la preuve de cette nature [d'homme, de femme, d'animal non-humain, peu importe], c’est un terrain glissant et plus on décortique la chose, moins elle tient debout. On sait déjà que demander à quelqu’un de prouver qu’il est humain, de définir ce qu’est l’humanité même, donne sujet à une infinité de textes philosophique sans pour autant apporter de réponse. C’est pourquoi les légitimations superficielles ou fallacieuses de certains thérians vis à vis de leur comportement prétendu animal m’exaspèrent, tout autant que les questionnements extérieurs sans fin qui demandent à ce que nous prouvions nos identités alors même que l’autre ne justifie pas de la sienne.

Ce n’est pas parce qu’on ne parvient pas à prouver ce que nous sommes que ce n’est pas réel. Ce n’est pas parce que quelque chose n’est pas inscrit dans notre ADN ou dans notre “âme” (pour les croyants) qu’elle n’a pas de dimension bien concrète et de conséquences. Et ce n’est pas le fait d’aimer les balades en forêt, de ne pas se reconnaître dans la société ou d’être impulsif qui définie la thérianthropie; ces traits ne sont que des clichés que l’on rattache au fait d’être animal, et des clichés bien humains.

Sur les méta-membres

Sur les méta-membres

On m’a encouragé à écrire quelque chose sur mes membres fantômes; c’est une expérience très intime pour moi mais je vais tenter de me plier à cette demande.

Tout d’abord, je pense qu’il est important de préciser que les membres fantômes chez les thérians sont un phénomène qui ne correspond pas exactement à la définition stricte connue des personnes amputées, mais à celle que la communauté scientifique appelle plutôt “membre fantôme surnuméraire”. Il y a un article Wikipédia sur le sujet bien qu’il n’ait malheureusement pas encore été traduit en français; il définit les membres fantômes surnuméraires comme relevant d’une condition où la personne croit et perçoit des informations venant d’un membre du corps qui n’a jamais physiquement existé, alors que les membres fantômes tels qu’on les connait plus communément apparaissent à la suite d’une amputation. Mais comme l’appellation “surnuméraire” alourdit la formule, elle est souvent omise dans les discussions; je parle moi-même généralement simplement de “membres fantômes” même si je fais toujours référence aux membres fantômes surnuméraires et rien d’autre.

Tous les thérians ne font pas l’expérience de membres fantômes, mais c’est un phénomène tout de même répandu d’après ce que j’ai pu voir sur les sites et forums que je parcours depuis une douzaine d’années. Chez beaucoup, ces sensations ne se produisent que lors d’une shift, et sont absentes le reste du temps. Pour ma part, l’analogie la plus exacte que je peux fournir pour tenter d’expliquer mes sensations de membres fantômes est celle de ma synesthésie.

La synesthésie est le mélange de deux ou plusieurs modes de perception chez une personne; c’est aussi une bizarrerie neurologique qui est connue de la communauté scientifique. Pour ma part, je fais l’expérience d’un type courant, celui qui transpose des couleurs sur des graphèmes (c’est à dire sur des lettres, chiffres et symboles similaires). Lorsque je regarde une lettre ou un chiffre, je peux “percevoir” sa couleur; cela fonctionne aussi pour certains mots entiers en ce qui me concerne, par exemple pour les jours de la semaine et les noms de mois (ce qui a eu le don de m’énerver en maternelle car on nous apprenait ces mots avec des couleurs, et que les couleurs choisies par la maîtresse contre-indiquaient celles de ma synesthésie, donc j’avais l’impression que ce qu’on nous apprenait en classe était inexact). Tous les synesthètes n’associent cependant pas les mêmes couleurs aux mêmes graphèmes.

Bien sûr, je suis tout à fait capable de voir la couleurs “réelle” de l’encre utilisée pour les mots. Je sais que ce que je vois n’est qu’une projection et je peux faire la distinction entre ma synesthésie et la réalité physique. Si pour moi la lettre “A” est rouge, cela ne m’empêchera pas de noter le fait que l’encre utilisée est noire, ou que dans telle affiche la lettre a été imprimée en une autre couleur. Et dans ma classe de maternelle, c’était bien parce que je voyais la différence entre le fait que le “mardi” était écrit en rouge sur le poster, alors que pour moi “mardi” est vert, que cela me frustrait terriblement.

Pour moi, mes membres fantômes – ou “méta-membres” – sont la même chose. Je suis capable de sentir des oreilles félines par dessus ou dans le prolongement de mes oreilles physiques, et je peux dire lesquelles sont faites de chair et lesquelles ne sont que le fruit de mon cerveau bizarre. Mais après tout, les sensations physiques sont aussi de simples signaux électriques ou chimiques dans mon corps, la différence entre ce que nous nommons le réel et la sensation fantôme n’existe que dans un regard extérieur. Pour mon cerveau, les deux perceptions sont valides et réelles.

Les sensations fantômes tendent à avoir moins de poids dans mon ressenti, parce que le monde physique pèse moins dessus. Je peux ressentir une gène si mes ailes se cognent dans le décor, si l’on peut dire, mais sans plus. Sans doutes que ce n’est du qu’à un effet placebo de ce que mon cerveau “attend” de logique en terme d’interactions physiques. De la même manière je peux sentir le vent dans mes plumes ou dans la fourrure de ma nuque, des griffes et des canines plus longs que les ongles et les dents que je possède en réalité. J’ai la sensation d’une structure musculaire ou osseuse étrange qui semble plus “juste” que mon anatomie actuelle. Globalement, mon cerveau a une cartographie de mon corps qui diffère de sa géographique “physique” concrète.

D’où, par moment, le sentiment de dysphorie d’espèce, que d’autres ont beaucoup mieux décrit que moi car je ne le ressens pas aussi intensément que la plupart (mais je ne suis pas non plus vraiment dysphorique de genre par rapport à mon corps, donc ce n’est pas une surprise). Souvent ce n’est qu’une petite gène pour moi, et plus rarement une sensation d’écoeurement, de tristesse, de frustration ou une douleur presque physique. C’est le ressenti de “ce qui devrait être”. Pour d’autres parfois, c’est comme s’ils étaient littéralement physiquement malades.

Pour le moment je n’ai pas encore traduit beaucoup de choses sur la dysphorie du point de vue thérian, mais il y a ce petit texte de Ninmenjuushin pour commencer.