Alterhumanity: FAQ

What is alterhuman?

The word alterhuman was coined as a solution to prohibitive identity politics in the otherkin community. It was first defined by phasmovore here in 2014 and has since been expanded. Mordecai has written a treatise on a more modern definition here, and this is the definition we work with at Alt+H. To quote the article:

You are alterhuman if you decide to call yourself alterhuman.
You may decide to call yourself alterhuman if you experience an internal identity that is beyond the scope of what is traditionally considered 'being human'.

Who is alterhuman?

There are a lot of distinct communities that are considered alterhuman by their nature. Otherkin, therians, otherhearted people and copinglinkers are the most notable of these. Some communities exist on the borders of alterhumanity, or otherwise partially intersect. Groups like furries, daemians and multiple systems aren't inherently alterhuman, but lots of people from them consider their specific experiences under those labels alterhuman in some way. If you want to learn about these communities, we go into some detail with the glossary. There are also many people who just plain don't feel human, or relate to humanity in a different way than what's considered typical. You don't have to identify with one of these groups to be alterhuman - the whole point of the label is to be as permissive as possible.

Why do people identify this way?

The alterhuman community is so diverse that it's hard to arrive at a single, simple answer for this. Some people's alterhumanity is a voluntary association, but for a lot of people the feelings exist regardless of choice. Some people believe their alterhumanity to be spiritual, and that their identity comes from a past life or some inherent property of their soul. Some people consider it psychological and attribute it to a neurobiological quirk or simply symbolic, archetypal resonance. Even people who ultimately choose to be alterhuman often have solid reasons for the specifics of their identity that are meaningful beyond just liking the thing a lot.

While it's a little otherkin-centric, this post provides a handful of theories on the origin of alterhumanity that one might subscribe to.

What are the histories of the alterhuman communities?

Together, the various alterhuman communities are around 50 years old! The otherkin community in particular predates the internet and was heavily culturally influenced by the Elf Queen's Daughters, a group which published articles about 'elven philosophy' in neopagan magazines from the early 70s onwards. Usenet groups dedicated to werewolf- and dragon- identifying people began to appear in the 90s, and several people independently founded sites for people whose identities were found in fiction in the early 2000s.

What does alterhumanity have to do with being LGBT+?

Being alterhuman does not make you LGBT+ but there are a lot of people who happen to be both. There are some transgender folks who feel their gender dysphoria and species dysphoria are comparable. There are even people who feel like their gender or sexuality are heavily influenced by their alterhumanity. That doesn't mean that every alterhuman person is LGBT+, and alterhumanity is not an inherently LGBT+ identity.

What does alterhumanity have to do with religion?

Alterhumanity in and of itself isn't a religion. There's no alterhuman leaders, no alterhuman dogma, no shared alterhuman beliefs. However, for a lot of people their alterhumanity is a deeply spiritual phenomenon. Some folks have religions that to them explain or otherwise allow for the origins of their alterhumanity, and lots incorporate their alterhumanity into their religious practises. The idea of a spiritual nonhuman identity is not exclusive to any one faith. Ojibwe families have their tutelary animal spirits but so too do the Scots, Koreans, and several other cultures and nations worldwide. What is exclusive is the terminology and practices associated with them in each case. So, unless you're Ojibwe, something isn't your 'spirit animal', but it could be that you're something-kin or something-hearted.