“Species Identity Disorder” is absurd, and Boomer The Dog is awesome.

by Patch O'Furr

Joke news is fun.

The Hard Times is a punk rock version of The Onion. They put out some of the funniest fake news anywhere.

“No One of Any Gender Wants To Use Venue Bathroom”

Did you hear news controversy about sharing bathrooms with trans people?  Personally I pee on hydrants, so I don’t give a shit about where other dogs pee.

On a Furry topic, here’s a news story that reminds me of Poe’s Law (the internet rule that says that parodies of extreme views will be taken as sincere, unless you tell people it’s a parody.)

Willamatte Week: Getting a Grip on Furry Fandom and Species Dysphoria Blues.

“It’s 2016. Time to check your Cishuman privilege.”  Cishuman… ha ha it’s fake, right?

Poe’s Law might happen if someone talks about this.  It reminds me of a time when I praised someone using the handle SLUTTY WEREWOLF for having the funniest name. I adored the flaunty bluntness.  Then SLUTTY WEREWOLF saw me post about the absurdity of “Species Identity Disorder” and unfriended me.

The International Anthropomorphic Research Project talks about “Species Identity Disorder.”  It’s in their first published academic study, “Furries from A to Z (Anthropomorphism to Zoomorphism):”

“…that up to 46% of furries ‘may possibly represent a condition we have tentatively dubbed “Species Identity Disorder”‘.

The diagnosis of Species Identity Disorder, a term invented by Gerbasi, is defined by her as ‘…considering the self as less than 100% human and wanting to be 0% human [and] is often accompanied by discomfort with their human body and feeling that they are another species trapped in a human body‘. Gerbasi makes a direct comparison to Gender Identity Disorder.” – [Adjective][Species]: Furry Research: A Look Back at Dr Gerbasi’s Landmark 2007 Study.

Isn’t this usually called “make-believe?”  But they call it a “disorder” and compare it to transgender.  It was enough to provoke an entire criticism paper: (PDF) “Furries and the Limits of Species Identity Disorder: A Response to Gerbasi et al. Fiona Probyn-Rapsey.”  (And their own response to say nuh uh.)

To be honest, I don’t have a lot of time to read such things. But I did read an IARP member’s explanation that backpedals from a label and says they were just trying to test for some “subclinical levels” of dysphoria, using similar questions about gender identity.  Supposedly those could just translate to testing feelings about being human.

It sounds like using colors to measure inches.  Isn’t that a non sequitur?  The long explanation intuitively seems off, and the more wordy a defense gets, the worse it smells to me.  “Subclinical” smells suspiciously like “microaggression”.  Even if furs have some feelings about their species, how is it more than “make-believe?”

Studies of feelings can share more in common with slippery marketing than practitioners admit.  Marketers can have a lot of success with methods to reach very wrong goals. (Over-relying on focus groups does that, like in this story about Coke reformulating to New Coke, a famous bomb, after focus group testing for answers they wanted.)  I wouldn’t be surprised if testing voluntary, contained groups at furry cons gets squishy results.

To be honest again, I really like some IARP members and some of the study knowledge, but don’t trust other parts of the work that strongly resemble defensive PR.  Specifically, I don’t trust minimizing sexy topics while they enjoy being a single media go-to source. Or having “family friendly” Uncle Kage as co-author on their first paper (with “species identity disorder” in it) and then reacting badly to another researcher not allowed at Anthrocon – with what appears to be politics.

That researcher was interested in furry-as-fetish, also drawing from a model, called “ETLE”. Find details in the link, and let me just suggest that the reason ETLE is controversial is because politics don’t allow anyone to compare transgender identity to fetish.

Don’t shoot the messenger, but if some people have fetish for playing as pets, how is it bad to suggest that some people might be mixed up with fetish for something as prosaic as gender?  You don’t want to insult, but it’s not impossible to have multiple explanations.

I hosted that researcher’s study announcement and it was fiercely criticized. I was unimpressed by one IARP member’s reaction of calling it “shameful.” It smelled like politics. (Nobody noticed, but then he overcame criticism to complete the study.)

That’s a LOT of background about the silliness of “Species Identity Disorder.”

Here’s a wrinkle to calling it silly.  Some outsiders bring it up to mock transgender, the way that anti-gay people say “what’s next, you want to marry your dog?”  They think feeling at odds with your own gender is a joke and sign of moral decay.

That’s funny by itself but not so much if it’s mocking trans people.

If a guy marries a guy there’s nothing wrong with it, and if someone gender transitions that’s OK.

Some people actually do want to marry their dogs and that’s… never mind.  But at least dogs exist. Meanwhile I think “real” Species Identity Disorder wouldn’t be like believing your dog is in love with you.  It would be like believing your lawnmower is in love with you. Or your sci-fi novel.

I don’t think it’s logical to compare things like gay relationships to marrying your dog, or transgender to transpecies.  But sometimes it’s good to be illogical.

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Emperor Norton

Emperor Norton

Boomer The Dog is a fairly famous furry and a Real Dog who charms audiences in the documentary “Fursonas”. He has a sweet personality in spite of nastiness he attracted for going on TV and “making the fandom look bad” (furryspeak for “Think Of The Children”.)

I have no idea whether he claims to be Otherkin or Therian or Trans-Species.  I just remember him speaking in Fursonas about feeling the Spirit of a dog. To me, that sounds like a spiritual kind of philosophy.  I don’t believe Boomer deserves any judgement about medical conditions.  I don’t believe he has one related to this, and don’t think he claims to. That’s the difference from a “disorder” label.

Boomer has always been an awesome dog to me.  To others, I might call him “The Emperor Norton of Furry Fandom“.  It’s not like I know him very well, but whether he’s spiritual or just living a philosophy, I support him to be a dog.

I’d rather be a dog than dogmatically follow politics and labels.