Here’s why furries are on a secret list at the California DMV.

by Patch O'Furr

Thanks to Pup Nacho for his news tip below.  First, let me ask: Are knots funny? 

If you’re giggling like I did when I posted those, you might be Furry Trash.  And you might appreciate how they only make sense for those in the know.

Having unique language is a mark of a fully-fledged subculture.  They call it slang, vernacular, cant, or cryptolect. Fans of fantasy fiction and role-playing might know about Thieves’ Cant (for criminals, beggars and hustlers, traveling performers, and carnival workers); those who study Queer theory may know Polari. (See Atlas Obscura: The Forgotten Secret Language of Gay Men.)  


Cant is for people who have some reason to exclude or mislead others outside of their group.  You need it if you’re a hustler from the carnival talking to a planted helper, or a queer man in Victorian England wondering if it’s safe to buy a shandy-gaff for a cute guy in the saloon.  These can have deep etymology, but people are constantly inventing new codes to hide meanings.  You don’t want to be called a “peach” at certain hotels today.

Furries have such words. Usually they’re just for fun. They can come from customs that happen with each other, or sometimes it has to do with being “appropriate” for outsiders. People scoff at the idea of furries “coming out”, but it’s not the best idea to invite questions about murrsuits, real or not.

This brings up the news tip from Pup Nacho (@pupnachosf or his Facebook.)

(Pup Nacho:) “Here’s the letter I got, showing the state of California rejecting my vanity plate with the license plate “Furries” due to ‘sexual connotation, term of lust or depravity.’  This is super frustrating to me, and I’m kind of baffled that furries would be categorized as a sexual connotation or act of depravity. I really don’t like our state defining the fandom in that way. – Licks and Wags, Nacho!”


For all the jokes, it’s true, furries doesn’t mean much by itself.  I’ll leave it up to readers to wonder how many others have had a similar experience.  But I have to call it silly, and say they might as well try to stop us from laughing. Will they ever catch on to these?




Got any to share? Drop a comment!


Edit: Reposted by the SFist blog! By coincidence, their header photo shows the owner of another fabulous license that says Yiff. (The green fluffy guy).

To clarify, “Furries” isn’t a sexual term any more than “trekkies” or some other group of creative interest. SOME go farther for fantasy and theme purposes (so do Playboy Bunnies). The default meaning doesn’t have to do with sex any more than fans of Disney’s Zootopia do.

Good comments at Twitter: