Alterhumans are individuals who have identities beyond what is traditionally considered human. An alterhuman can identify as non-human, or they can identify as being human in ways alternate to what is societally common. The word "alterhuman" can be used as an umbrella term for otherkin, therians, fictionkin, dragons, vampires, plurals and systems, copinglinkers, otherhearted individuals, those with synpaths, and any other similar identity.
Experiences[edit | edit source]
In the original coining post, alterhumans were described as differing from the "common societal idea of humanity". This was defined as:
- a person feeling connected to and represented by a human body
- a singular person being in a body who has been there since birth
- a person’s identification as human without a supernatural basis
- a person’s identification as human without personal subcultures taking greater precedence
The post emphasizes that no one who follows these criteria is obligated to feel represented by the term; for instance, some who follow reincarnation-based spiritualities may not consider themselves alterhuman despite having spiritual or supernatural justifications for their humanity.
As a result, the world alterhuman covers a broad range of experiences, some of which have very little or even nothing in common with each other. These identities can be nonhuman, human, voluntary or involuntary. They can be based in spirituality, psychology, or some other framework of origin. Alt+H cofounder mordecai midas later suggested "non-typical experiences of species identity, embodiment, narrative identity and personal mythology" as categories that encompass most types of alterhumanity.
History and etymology[edit | edit source]The term “alterhuman” (originally stylized “alter-human”) comes from the phrase “Alternative Humanity Personal Identity”, or “AHPI”. Both terms were coined by Lio in a 2014 post. The coining was prompted by a debate in the tumblr community as to whether people who identified with - not as - an entity were otherkin. The debate also concerned people who identified with/as concepts. These experiences would later come to be understood as otherheartedness and conceptkin, respectively. Some people expressed that this might be an opportunity to coin an umbrella term for a number of communities related to otherkin, including therians, plural and fictionkin. Lio spoke more on his motivations later:
I saw a lot of overlap between [the otherkin community] and other communities - plural communities, therian, soulbonder, daemonism, etc, and at the time these communities would often rip into each other out of what I can only imagine was a desire to be considered the one that was legitimate in comparison to others that were looked down upon socially. In reality of course, they each have their own place, and everyone benefited from understanding what similarities were there and celebrating what differences were there, so I tried to come up with something to help connect the commonalities between these disparate groups as well as give a word for anyone who didn’t feel just one - or any - represented them properly.Other proposals at the time included "perhuman" and "alternahuman".
The term did not originally gain much traction. Its use began to pick up as a result of Alt+H's Question of the Month posts in late 2016 - mordecai stated that the blog was started "mostly with the motivation to get people using the word ‘alterhuman’ at all". Lio also later credited mordecai as "the major person involved in actually refining the concept and actually using it". Therian Youtuber PinkDolphin stated that the word was not seeing wide use in 2017 when he entered the community, and that as of 2022 many of his audience were still unaware of the word's existence.
On September 24th, 2019, mordecai formally proposed the Unicode symbol for the alt key (⎇) as a symbol for alterhumanity. The symbol gained visibility in 2022 as a result of its inclusion in Reddit's r/place event.
Community[edit | edit source]
Some people have compared the relationship between "alterhuman" and "otherkin" to the relationship between "queer" and "gay". Daily Dot reporter Ana Valens observed that, in line with this, people who identify as alterhuman typically have more "radical" politics. Speaking at OtherCon in 2022, the Wayward Tides system proposed an alterhuman current of anarchism, drawing from queer, post-civ and post-left anarchist theory.
Reception[edit | edit source]
Many people who use the term have praised it for its permissiveness. Researcher Nikky Jackson states that it "exemplifies the progression of the community in its acceptance of new ideas on identity".
Not everyone who could be described by the term chooses to use it. Some may feel that the alterhuman umbrella is too broad, given the wide range of communities that can be included in it. Some groups have argued against the inclusion of specific labels under it, or the existence of the term entirely.
However, many people condone the term and simply do not feel it fits them. One reason for this may be that they feel it is too connected to humanity. The term “alterbeing” has been coined to account for this, although it has not gained as much traction. Some people self-describe as alterbeings, but still feel comfortable being considered part of the alterhuman community.
References[edit | edit source]
- Malchior (phasmovore). (26th September, 2014) "This Will Probably be my Last Post on Semantics"
- Naia Ōkami. (17th July, 2020) "Terminology & Lexicon" (Archived version)
- The Flock of Changes. "Alterhuman Glossary"
- Alt+H. (September 21st, 2017) "What does ‘alterhuman’ mean?"
- mordecai midas. (June 2020) "small thoughts on a more personally useful shortform definition of 'alterhuman' that i've been rolling around in my head"
- Lio (x-rds). (February 19th, 2023) "Yes! Phasmovore is my old blog..." Comment on "Just for the record".
- Malchior (phasmovore). (June 25th, 2014) "Maybe ‘perhumanism’ 'alternahumanism’? ..." Comment on "Anonymous asked: well my oceankin and naturekin identity simply means ...".
- mordecai midas (vagabond-sun). (February 26th, 2016) "with all this talk of new terminology lately..."
- Ana Valens. (September 26th, 2020) "Otherkin are the internet’s punchline. They’re also our future" The Daily Dot.
- PinkDolphin. (February 22, 2022) "What is ALTERHUMANITY? | I am Alterhuman" at 0:43.
- mordecai midas. (September 24th, 2019) "⎇"
- "Alterhuman Flag" The 2022 r/place Atlas.
- aureusFluvialite. (April 5th, 2022) "r/alterhuman on r/place: final report"
- mordecai midas. (June 13th, 2019) "Otherkinity isn’t LGBT+ but Alterhumanity is Queer"
- The Wayward Tides System. "Alterhuman Anarchism - an ideology of radical acceptance of alterhuman and plural identities" OtherCon 2022.
- Nikky Jackson. (September 2019) "Alter-humanity: An examination into other than human individuals through the lens of identity"
- various. (September 27th, 2020) "Why therianthropy should be divorced from Alt-H and possibly "otherkin" - "identity"?"
- various. (December 11th, 2017) "If your argument against alterhumanity as a movement and a term ..." Comment on "What does ‘alterhuman’ mean?".
- alterbeing-central. (October 17th, 2021) "Alterbeing (n. adj)" (Archived version)
- Alt+H. (January 23rd, 2020) "We’ve removed a lot of disclaimers about some communities being ‘not inherently alterhuman’ from our glossary page."
- The Flock of Changes. (October 21st, 2020) "alterhuman =/= otherkin"