Furry Identity as Alterhumanity
Furry: Someone with a significant interest in anthropomorphic animals. This ranges from a passive interest to a major identity cornerstone.
Alterhumanity: An identity that goes beyond "normal" humanity.
If you haven't figured out that I'm a furry by now, then here's the grand reveal: I'm a furry. I like the idea of anthropomorphic animals, I'd love to have a fursuit someday, and I have an anthro owl persona that's an important part of my identity. Tada, now you know.
Finding my Fursona
I'm not sure when I first realized that furries were a thing. I'm sure it was somewhere in my teens when I was first exploring internet subcultures, but I genuinely don't remember. It's been too long. If I had to guess, I was probably mosying around Tumblr's art tags and stumbled across someone's fursona. It might go back even further to petsites and virtual worlds.
Regardless, I was enthralled. People were making all sorts of anthropomorphic creatures to represent and explore themselves, and the creativity of it all was astounding. If I could think it up, someone had not only done it, but done it with passion and care; not only that, but someone else had cheered them on. It was like a wholesome Rule 34. It had its bad sides too, as any subculture does, but folks were pretty universally against the worst of it.
I always stayed on the fringes of the community, but I set about making myself a fursona as soon as I realized that I could. My first fursona was actually a cyclops kitty, not an owl. I named him Fermata.
Fermata was my fursona for five or six years. I liked him. He was the cynical, snarky, confident side of myself that I felt unable to express, and getting to embody those traits through him was wonderful. It was a way to explore and embrace that side of myself. I would have kept him, but after a few years, he stopped feeling like me. I'd grown out of him.
For some people, fursonas are just characters. For others, they're an animal representation of themselves. And for a third set of people, fursonas are more them than a human body ever could be. I'm somewhere in the third group of people. My fursona is a core part of my identity. If it doesn't feel like looking in a mirror, then it's not my fursona.
I started experimenting again. At the time, I was plural, so I played around with some concepts related to that and came up with this "pill bugs in a trenchcoat" idea.
I loved it, but it still didn't feel right. For one thing, it would be totally impractical to make a fursuit of these guys. You probably could if you really wanted to, but god, the sewing. Can you imagine? There would be so many seams.
Sewing nightmare aside, the pillbugs didn't feel like looking in a mirror either. They were adorable, but they represented plurality more than they represented me, and they just didn't feel right. I kept exploring. I tried out individual fursonas for system members instead of a collective one, but no one felt like they'd be seen without a shared 'sona. I tried conjoined fursonas, and that felt decently comfortable but still not quite right.
It seems so obvious in retrospect. I'd been going by "Owls" online for years, and the name had become a part of who I was. I was Owls as much as I was my legal name. I didn't want to make an owl fursona because I never really identified with owls, but I got tired enough of trying to find a new species that it was worth a shot. That shot paid off.
I knew I'd gotten it right almost immediately, even more right than Fermata. Fermata had been a part of me that I couldn't express, so there had been a slight disconnect at times. This owl was all of me. It was my personality, my gender, all of it. I felt like I could raise an eyebrow and the drawing would raise it with me.
Furry as Alterhumanity
There's a noticeable parallel between the process of finding my fursona and the process of finding my alterhuman identities. You'd think the two would be more different- a fursona is intentionally designed, after all- but my experience was almost one and the same. In both cases, I was trying to find a species that matched me. I was looking for that sense of "this is me". I tried on a long line of identities that didn't fit until the right one clicked into place. The right species felt like it had been present all along as part of me.
It's a peculiar kind of resonance that I've only found in a few places. When I found the right fursona, it felt like slipping into my own skin. I got a strikingly similar feeling from realizing I'm a polymorph. Likewise, putting a name to my hearttypes gave me the same sort of relief. Suddenly, things made sense. It felt right on a level that goes deeper than words.
I choose to see my furry identity as alterhuman. It's a nonhuman species identity that's an important part of who I am in the same way being eldritch is, and the process of finding my fursona felt remarkably similar to an awakening. If alterhumanity is defined as having an identity that goes beyond the normal scope of humanity, then I'd say my furry identity is absolutely alterhuman.