What’s the difference between otherkin and therian?
Like “plurals” and “multiples”?
Can someone talk to me about this?
I’m trans-aware and I’d like to know more about this….
Is there a difference between otherkin and therian? Is one an umbrella term?
You can talk to me anonymously if you’re worried it’s a trap, but I’d really like to be better educated about this.
Thanks in advance for the 411!
Hope you have a wonderful day!
1. Plurals and multiples aren’t my area of knowledge, so I can’t responsibly answer this. Maybe somebody else who sees this can.
2. “Is there a difference between otherkin and therian?”
Yes, there is a difference between the otherkin and therian communities and peoples. They’re two separate communities, which developed independently of one another, with their own distinct social expectations.
Otherkin: People who identify as otherkin tend to identify as “mythological” beings, most commonly elves, faeries, and dragons.
The history of the otherkin community, as far as I’ve found when I was researching the Otherkin Timeline, traces continuously back to about 1972, when some groups of people published articles and mailing lists in which they were elves. The best place to learn about otherkin is the web-site otherkin.net.
The word “otherkin” was coined in 1990 as an umbrella term that could include people who identified as creatures other than elves or humans. One otherkin writer, Jarandhel, defines the word “otherkin” as “kin to the Other."
Therians: People who identify as therians tend to identify as real-world animals, most commonly wolves and felines.
I’ve only been able to trace the history of the therian community back to 1993, when participants of a newsgroup started talking about how they self-identified in real life as wolves or other animals. This apparently started spontaneously, with no connection to the otherkin community.
That community adopted the pre-existing word “therianthrope” (Greek for beast + man, or wild animal + person) in 1994 in order to include people who identify as animals other than wolves. Before then, therians had called themselves werewolves, Weres, and shifters, but these terms started to fall out of popularity around 2005.
That said, there is much in common between otherkin and therians, and their communities have grown to have a lot of overlap. To some extent, they have come to share more of the same participants, philosophies, and jargon. They’re still not completely synonymous.
3. “Is one an umbrella term?”
In current popular usage, “otherkin” is an umbrella term that includes therians.
Otherkin and therian used to be completely separate with no shared umbrella term. Then, around 2006, “otherkin” started to be used as an umbrella term that included therians. For example, Lupa’s non-fiction book A Field Guide to Otherkin (2007) uses the word “otherkin” to include therians too.
I think it’s unsatisfactory and misleading to use the word “otherkin” as an umbrella term that includes therians, because the therianthrope community didn’t start out as a sub-group of the otherkin community. No better umbrella term has been adopted into popular use.
Hope this helps.
- O. Scribner
1. For example, the Elf Queen’s Daughters, the Silver Elves, and a few elven people whose letters were published in Green Egg Magazine. For more information about elven people in the Seventies and Eighties, see my historical e-book, the Otherkin Timeline.
2. R’ykandar Korra’ti, e-mail sent to me while I was researching the Otherkin Timeline, sent 2010-07-22.
3. Jarandhel Dreamsinger, "Kin to the Other." 2005-09-26.
4. Polar, “Unofficial AHWW Archive.” 1998-06.
5. Authors who used the term “shifter” to refer to the same community of therians include Yaiolani, author of the web-site Werewolf and Shapeshifter Codex (1996), and Rosalyn Greene, author of the book The Magic of Shapeshifting (2000).