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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.

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