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[personal profile] tangyabominy
I've been reading up on BIID lately. I do this, from time to time-- you've probably heard me mention it before-- although I've never really had a good handle on why, exactly, I'm curious about these people's stories. I've always supposed it's because the condition intersects transspeciesed experiences.

Today, just now, a secondary awareness clicked in. I'm not sure if this is related, but the websites of those who experience BIID are a lot like otherkin websites would probably be, if physical dragons and unicorns actually existed in this world.

When reading BIID sites, I think I've always noticed a difficult-to-pinpoint something about what's written there that causes it to differ from the writing on otherkin sites. I still can't quite describe this fully, but I think the trigger for it is that BIID, while hardly accepted or understood in most of society, is a very mundane disorder. Someone experiencing it might be called crazy, but it's a serious kind of crazy, in the eyes of society: a "something is really wrong with you" rather than a "you've indulged in one too many fantasy stories".

Because BIID is mundane in seeming, while otherkinness is seen as a product of fantasy-mindedness, it's possible that there's an effect going on whereby people's writing about and intensely experiencing the otherkin concept peaks in those years of their life where the self is being discovered and fantasy is still also relatively okay to indulge in (the teenage years), and is subsequently pushed away over time as people feel they have to move away from fantasy and engage with "normal things". On the other hand, people with disabilities are encountered throughout one's life, and as such the feelings associated with them only become stronger and stronger, as one grows older and is reminded in small ways everyday that they live alongside those whose lives they want to share but cannot. (This is only vague theorising: please step in with your thoughts if you have them!)

Of course, I know that many of the most prolific writers on the topic of otherkin are our venerable older (and old-ish-er) folks, and it's certainly not something that diminishes with age for some people, although it's arguable that the older 'kin around seem to be coping much better with it than the older BIIDers. I suspect that may be partly because of the aforementioned "dragons don't physically live amongst us, so we're not constantly being triggered by them" issue, and partly because otherkinness by nature seems to tend a person towards spirituality, in which people who would otherwise struggle can find a lot of solace. By contrast, a lot of BIIDers, for understandable reasons, seem to have given up on the divine; but otherkinness, however tough, actually tends to encourage belief the more strongly it manifests, providing an equal comfort to go along with the struggle.

So, so far, I've pinpointed a couple of factors that explain why BIID sufferers' writings differ from otherkin writings: a perhaps slightly different age demographic, and one that doesn't self-select for a particularly spiritual attitude to life. I think, however, there's also to be accounted for the fact that BIID sufferers, even if they were the exact same people as otherkin, are writing, when they write about BIID, about a somewhat different experience. Not only does the presence of disabled people in the world affect a BIIDer's attitude to the experience, it also affects, quite simply, the experience. When you encounter physical reminders of your ideal form in the people you meet and places you go every day-- not just in fantasy novels, but in the mundane proof that people other than you can and do live this life, you're just not one of them-- what you have to say about it, what ideas it triggers, will be different from the otherkin experience, which is a lot more internal. And it'll sound different.

I think why I like to read these accounts is that something about the way it sounds induces longing in me. Don't get me wrong, I also think BIID sounds horrible, and I'd much rather be otherkin, without all the reminders. But there's also something about... imagining that flicker of hope, imagining a world where people with your chosen form go by you day in, day out. Looking at them and feeling your heart break beautifully. I'm certain it's agony, but from my naive and privileged perspective, it almost seems like it'd be nicer to have the physical reminders close, even though that's a fallacy along the lines of thinking you'll feel better if only you could just see your unrequited love, then flipping out from the pain of being so near and yet so far.

Looking back, I think that's why I was so interested in transgender accounts back then, too. I think what I was getting out of them was the hope I felt for others when I realised they could change and become, and my mapping that onto my own transspecies longings.

The interesting thing, and I think this story needs to come to MythiCalia with me, is that I've actually been experiencing, lately, what it's really like to live in a world where you're surrounded by the members of the species you wish to be. My [livejournal.com profile] beyondtherift char, Iris, is having just that experience. And... well, it hurts.

It hurts a lot more than being otherkin in this world does; the constant reminders do exactly what you'd expect. They hold you on the edge of possibility, potential, while not actually allowing you completion. It's easier to abstract away "if only I'd been born on another world" when this world is all you know, than it is to realise that if only you'd been born in another body, if only the Rift roulette had landed on your lucky number!-- well, actually, no, the Rift can't angel-ify people, but it can at least give them wings-- things would be so much different. The fact that it's a remote possibility rather than a complete unknown also brings hope, but it's just as likely to have you in a state of constant, desperate searching for "the cure", rather than adopting a more spiritual, long-term attitude to things.

I think I've actually pinpointed the reason for Iris' attitude shift, too. In a world where that's not possible, she's historically focused on her long-term goals. In a world where stranger things turn up every day in her breakfast cereal, she doesn't have the patience to sit and wait for the long haul to pan out. She's scouring for every lead she can get, and there are a lot of different, but inconclusive, leads, that she's exhausting herself trying to follow all at once. She's almost completely lost sight of the long term, thanks to Chicago.

Bad alchemist, no biscuit.

She sort of wants to set up the Riftverse Chicago version of an online otherkin community, and I personally think that would be fascinating to explore purely because how that plays out in a world with actual angels/demons/shifters/etc. would be so different, but. She's the only one. So it's sort of not going to happen. Unless, I guess, I RP that she does indeed manage to contact a small enclave of seekers through the journal network. IDK, but it's an idea I'm sitting on.

July 2011

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