Tag Archives: Gender

Gender: Furry II (Now With More Scales)

Guest post by V, who’s gone through a variety of names that people found hard to pronounce and eventually settled for simple. V is a dragonish critter who’s been floating around the outskirts of furry since the early 00’s. They’ve written previously about species identity as lizardywizard, and can currently be found on Mastodon, as @behemoff@dragon.style, and Twitter as magnetongue.

I’ve read a lot (a lot!) of great writing on gender here at [a][s], and Makyo’s recent post “Gender: Furry” was no exception. I must admit, however, that I clicked on the title expecting, hoping for—and yet, deep down, knowing I probably wouldn’t find—something different.

See, as much as [a][s] is a site that dares to go deep into questions of gender, sexuality, and how those things are expressed in the playground of liminal, hot-swappable identity that is furry, there are surprisingly few writings on species as identity.

Therians and otherkin are more common in furry than we seem—when mentioning I’m a therian at furmeets or in chats, I always get at least one person per gathering who admits “Me too”. It’s obvious in hindsight that if anywhere would be a natural fit for such people, of course it would be furry, where we live out a startlingly profound yet largely unspoken agreement: to set aside our human personas completely among our friends, even when not roleplaying. Think about it for a moment. While there’s no requirement in furry to portray yourself as your character, wouldn’t a furry who used a human name and avatar for all their interactions seem weirdly out of place? The default, the expected, is that we uphold the masquerade. Through fursuits, avatars, usernames and conbadges, we ensure that our friends in the community know us primarily for our fursonas, not our physical forms.

Yet despite the obvious overlap, the topic by and large remains the elephant (or wolf, or cougar) in the room that is furry, just as furry seems to be a verboten subject in therian communities. Somewhere down the line, we mutually agreed to ignore each other’s existences.

I’ve got some theories on why, but those will come a little later. First, my story.

Continue reading Gender: Furry II (Now With More Scales)

Gender: Furry

Gender: Furry was originally commissioned for and published in Furries Among Us II, released by Thurston Howl Publications. You can purchase Furries Among Us II here. Do pick it up to read this and other essays by fascinating by some of furry’s finest minds. The anthology has been nominated for Best Non-fiction Work in the Ursa Major Awards! You may vote for this and other wonderful furry works here.

Many people, I suspect, use the idiom, “hindsight is twenty-twenty,” in a way that is better served by other, more appropriate words or phrases. The sense in which I hear it most commonly used is perhaps more adequately covered by the beautiful portmanteau, “regretrospect”. That is, now that things are said and done, I regret a lot of what happened during this adventure.

Also, it’s my second favorite portmanteau after “congratudolences” and really ought to see wider use.

No, I think “hindsight is twenty-twenty” is better reserved for cases when seemingly unrelated occurrences come together to form an outcome that seems to be greater than the sum of the parts. It fits best when you look back at your life and see disparate, unconnected events come together to make the situation you find yourself in now.

I came out to myself and my (at the time) fiancé as transgender over a process of several months. It began sometime in 2010 or so, when I started to feel like I was able to put words to the things that were making me feel bad. I began by identifying as genderqueer, and although that label still fits very well, I adopted ‘transgender’ in 2015 as the one that I use in day-to-day life to describe myself, as it leaves the fewest questions as to why I’m a six-foot-two rectangular man-shape in feminine clothing and makeup.

But we’re talking about hindsight, so it’s worth bringing up that one of the only things I ever stole was the book “The Boy Who Thought He Was A Girl”, back in second grade. I’m guessing at the title here, as I can find no record of it through casual Googling, however, I remember that it was a trashy, essentialist book about a boy who wanted to learn how to kiss, which somehow made him girly and, thus, confused about whether he should actually be a girl. Of course, in the end, his understanding of his gender role as a boy were firmly straightened out by strict-yet-loving family.

Or perhaps another step in this path of hindsight was sneaking into my step-mom’s spare room when I was about twelve and trying on one of her old dresses. At that point, I had yet to become the lummox that would be my post-pubertal destiny, and so the dress fit, albeit poorly.

Or, hey, skip ahead to 2006, when I had just turned twenty and realized that it felt just as good to role-play online as a vixen as it did as a tod, though I told myself at the time that it was because I wanted to experience more relationship configurations than the male homosexual relationships I’d had to that point.

Each of these things, and so many more, felt like an independent, unconnected occurrence to me. It’s only in hindsight that I can see that there were aspects of me straining towards some way to feel happy and comfortable. When I was growing up, they were simple oddities, but now just another way to see the present more clearly.

I think that it’s fairly common that one comes to terms with a portion of one’s identity in this fashion. Before I came out as trans and made the question of sexual orientation at least twice as complicated, I went through the process of figuring out that, despite being born male, I was also attracted to other boys as well as girls. Those ‘crushes’ in elementary school make more sense, and so on.

There had to be some lever that pushed each of those instances from a collection of loosely related occurrences into the formation of a strong facet of my own identity. With orientation, it was obviously the rush of hormones that came with puberty: all of the sudden, ‘liking boys’ took on a new tenor.

With gender, it was almost entirely the furry subculture’s fault.

Continue reading Gender: Furry

Species, Gender, and Data

One of the neat things about identity is the fact that a shared identity can lead to a community.

This is the way furry works, after all. A bunch of folks all around the world started identifying with this thing. Maybe they identify as folks who see themselves as something other than human. Or maybe they identify as someone who really likes art of anthropomorphic animals. There’s a lot of different ways to approach the topic of anthropomorphics.

Getting a bunch of folks together with a shared identity takes a lot of organization. That is, unless you’ve got the internet.

Suddenly, we start to see a community cohere out of shared identity. It’s a strange attractor of sorts: folks who are outside furry but share that identity are drawn in, making the sense of community more appealing to those outside, yet still have the shared identity.

Similar things happen within the LGBT community. Parties, gay clubs, and pride parades are some of the most visible aspects of this, of course. Still, much the same happens with trans folk. There are whole houses and communities of trans people in the embodied world, and online, the community becomes even grander. We talk of the gender cascade or the transplosion, the idea of “the act of seeing in others that portion of identity we find within ourselves that lends the greatest validation to our membership”. Seeing others live happily embracing their identity makes it easier to embrace our own identity.

Now, come with me on a short diversion through furry fiction.

Continue reading Species, Gender, and Data

Acceptance and Affurmation: Examining Queerness and Normativity Within the Furry Fandom

Guest post by Oxley. Oxley is a relatively new member of the fandom, having only been actively involved for a year–at the time this article was written, he hadn’t attended any conventions, but hopes to continue his work in this area at Midwest Furfest 2016. He is currently looking for feedback and other opinions on this article, and can be reached at his email.

The year is 2015, and marriage has finally been confirmed as a right for all Americans, whether gay, straight, or otherwise. Though the legislation has brought the queer community (sometimes referred to as MOGAI, or “Marginalized Orientations, Genders Alignments, and Intersex”) farther than it has ever been before in its fight for civil rights, talk of marriage now overshadows other important LGBTQ+ issues: many groups still find themselves marginalized and vulnerable in society. As the struggle slowly progresses, though, queer America has found both allies and enemies in the strangest of places. Individuals from some of the most conservative corners of politics have shown solidarity to the queer community, as have major corporations and brands. Nonetheless, their backing has often been motivated by political or economic gains—after all, in many places it would be considered political suicide to denounce marriage equality. Rather, various other communities and subcultures have often proven to be most readily and enthusiastically supportive of social progress. Countless YouTube stars have advocated for marriage equality or even used the site as a medium through which to come out, while common names in music have vehemently opposed restrictions on marriage.

Perhaps the most perplexing source of support for queerness in America, though, comes from the ever-controversial furry fandom. For years, furries have had intrinsic ties with the queer community, as only a minority within their numbers are straight. While furries as a whole have certainly never been a strong voice against equality regarding gender and sexuality, though, their advocacy of gay rights is nonetheless imperfect, and often detrimental to those who do not fit the more easily-recognized definitions of “queer”—that is to say, the transgender population. Still, observing a subcommunity as being a largely queer space offers a peculiar analysis of it, from an angle that is not often used. That said, the intersections between the queer community and the furry fandom provide a valuable insight into modern conventions of normativity, and the queer community’s interactions with society as a whole.

Continue reading Acceptance and Affurmation: Examining Queerness and Normativity Within the Furry Fandom

D-Girls and C-Boys: Troublesome Terms in Furry Porn

Pornography tends towards extremes. Genitalia is emphasized and often over-sized; bodies are idealized; the sounds and smells of sex are either downplayed or overplayed.

Such distortions of the real world are both good and bad. They are good because it’s what people want, and people should be free to fantasize however they wish. They are bad because they set an unrealistic precedent for the real world. And so people enjoy consuming outlandish depictions of sex while often simultaneously feeling bad for personally failing to meet that unattainable standard.

The problem especially obvious when it comes to pornography that depicts women with penises, or men with vaginas*. These depictions are, give or take, of transgender people, and are usually wildly unrealistic. It’s bad enough that such pornography reinforces the tendency for transgender people to be thought of as biological curiosities, and worse that the terminology used to describe this pornography—d-girls and c-boys—is degrading.

This article is about the conflict between two competing demands. There is the libertarian demand for freedom to produce and describe pornography in a straightforward and useful fashion, and the humanitarian demand for transgender people to be treated in a respectful and reasonable fashion.

(And one quick warning before I go on: beyond this point I will be direct in my use of crude terminology.)

Continue reading D-Girls and C-Boys: Troublesome Terms in Furry Porn

Witnessing and Mirroring

I don’t often read Reddit – the site and I get along fine, I just can’t seem to maintain interest in any subreddit for more than a few weeks – but I do occasionally find a good link or two when I wind up there. Most recently, I was trawling several different subreddits about gender and came across a set of delightful concepts that I think fit in well with the furry fandom.

Continue reading Witnessing and Mirroring

Austen Writes Her Furry Story

Austen Crowder has been a furry for 14 years. This memoir appears in her short story collection A Fuzzy Place: Short Stories from a Life Shaped by Furry Subculture. Austen is also the author of Bait and Switch.

It took Kara eight years to turn into a kitty and two years to die.

Kara is me – at least, an idealized me. This is what furries do, right? Create a persona and project ourselves and our story onto them. Let’s just say that Kara was a normal human student at a Liberal Arts College. There she turned into a five-foot-nine cat: white fur, pink nose, gorgeous yellow eyes that glittered in darkness. She fought adversity to learn how to be comfortable with her new form until, finally, the world rewarded her with acceptance. Parades, homecomings, and pats on the back surrounded her as she learned that being a cat was actually pretty cool.

I’d usually cook up some half-assed explanation of how Kara came to exist – magic, genes, interdimensional shifts, virtual reality, fables – but I won’t. Not today. You see, Kara doesn’t exist. Kara is a lie. Kara has always been and always will be a lie. A veil between me and honest, exposed, vulnerable storytelling. I’ve told Kara’s story so many times that the formula feels comfortable, like well-worn socks or my favorite shirt.

Kara was just a thin veil to protect myself from the truth of my life: a way to experiment with not-me before being not-me was okay to consider. Her ears catch imaginary sounds and the tug she feels at her tail comes from imaginary hands. Her life is carefully constructed to tell a single narrative: person A realizes they are no longer person A, learns how to be person B, and through some macguffin skips over all the heartache and pain of realization to become B. Great for stories, not so great in implementation.

Let me tell you the truth about Kara and I.

Continue reading Austen Writes Her Furry Story

Species Popularity by Sex, Gender & Sexual Orientation

We have a new visualisation to share today, courtesy of the industrious and talented hooves of Ruxley (https://github.com/ruxley).

This is an interactive visualisation which lets you explore the popularity of the top furry species, and see how that popularity changes with biological sex, gender, and sexual orientation.

Exactly how many wolves are there? (Lots and lots.) Are foxes gay? (Not really.) Are horses more popular than zebras? (Duh.)

Continue reading Species Popularity by Sex, Gender & Sexual Orientation

Trends Within Trends

Tiny foxes: good for comforting.
Tiny foxes: good for comforting.

It started innocuously enough with a tweet. I don’t remember the exact phrasing of it, but I had been having a rough day and was feeling the need for some sort of protective affection that I just couldn’t quite find offline; I’m rather tall and so it’s hard for me to find a way that’s comfortable for all parties involved to get that sensation of being held and protected. I think I wound up tweeting something silly to the effect of “I just want to curl up in a shirt pocket where it’s warm, cozy, and hidden.” I suppose I’ve always been a bit of a sap.

Like most things with far-reaching consequences, this start into the exploration of the “micro” side of the furry fandom had a seemingly inconsequential beginning. I’ve mentioned before that, after changing the ways in which I interacted online, several people treated me as though I were smaller than I really am (helped, no doubt, by the combination of text-only interaction and the lack of any specified height in my character description). With that trivial sentence, however, it suddenly became explicit, and before long I was interacting with those around me specifically as a tiny anthropomorphic fox.

Continue reading Trends Within Trends

A few weeks ago, I contacted a few large conventions and asked about the gender of their attendees in the dealers den compared to the rest of the con. I wanted to include this in my recent article, Furry Women at Furry Conventions, to supplement the IARP’s focus group research.

I didn’t get any responses in time for my article, in part because most conventions don’t collect gender data. I finally have a single response. I’m not going to identify the convention, but it is one the ten biggest, with over 1000 attendees at the most recent event.

Here’s the data:

  • In the dealers den: 57% female
  • Not in the dealers den: 12% female

This data comes with some caveats: Continue reading Furry Women at Furry Conventions: Some More Data