The Furry Fandom is a vibrant participatory online community. Furries skew heavily LGBTQIA+ and largely originated as a queer-positive spin-off of the science fiction fandom.
Last year, a group of trolls decided to prank the LibsOfTikTok hate account into spreading a false rumor about litter boxes in public schools.
Furry hate has always been a queerphobic dogwhistle, so to nobody’s real surprise, the hoax outlived the trolls’ intentions and became a full-blown conspiracy theory among the dumbest right-wing blow-hards.
Fortunately, 2023 is a new year, and hopefully one with less stupidity and misinformation. We can put all this behind us and–
Narrator: We regret to inform you that TERFs are making false claims about the furry fandom’s history.
Let’s Talk About Dog-Whistles
In politics, a dogwhistle is a message that is meant to communicate allegiance to an in-group (i.e. haters) while remaining plausibly deniable to members outside the in-group.
The term originates from actual whistles that you could blow on that would emit a sound in a frequency that humans cannot hear, but dogs can. Hence, dog-whistle.
Hate groups use dog-whistles to identify each other publicly without outing themselves. The Southern Poverty Law Center tracks the most common ones.
Unfortunately, right-wing extremists aren’t very creative, so it’s very easy to identify when one of them is using the furry fandom as a dogwhistle for their actual opinions and beliefs.
Let’s explore how they use dog-whistles when lying publicly specifically about the furry fandom.
A furry is a person that identifies with an anthropomorphic animal.
Furries do NOT identify as an animal in the sense that right-wing trolls proclaim.
This isn’t mere pedantry. The entire point of right-wingers talking about “furries” as someone that “identifies as [species]” is to try to ridicule transgender people by proxy.
The rhetoric is predicated on obvious prejudice: “This person identifies as a woman. But I don’t believe them! What’s next, identifying as a cat?”
It’s basically a reskinned “Apache attack helicopter” joke, because being a right-wing troll means you have no creativity in your soul.
The people who identify as animals are called therians or otherkin. That’s a totally separate thing than furry, which is a predominantly queer community.
In short, whenever someone says a furry “identifies as” something, they’re telling on themselves.
(Footnote: There is, of course, some overlap from both communities. If someone is a furry and a therian/otherkin, then obviously they might “identify as” their fursona. But that’s not what right-wing trolls are talking about, so it hardly warrants a mention in any rebuttal. Clarity is more important than precision.)
“Perverts”, “Degenerates”, etc.
Furry isn’t a sex thing in any meaningful way, because literally anything can be a sex thing.
Yes, even whatever crazy counterexample you’re imagining. Read the most recently linked post for a deeper treatment of the subject.
And if literally everything can be a sex thing, then it loses any meaning to state anything is. This descriptor is a waste of words.
Here’s the skinny:
- There is room for underage furries to have age-appropriate fun in this community. That’s valid.
- There is room for adult furries to have adult fun in this community. That’s also valid.
- Almost nobody wants to cross that boundary and involve kids at all in adult activities. (And anyone that does, frankly, does not belong in the furry community.)
If you actually look at the furry fandom’s demographics, you’ll find a higher percentage of asexual people in furry than in the human population.
Furry Hate Itself As a Dog Whistle
I wrote an article on Medium a few years ago that covered this topic.
As it becomes less fashionable to hate on gays, people use anti-furry language to disguise their real feelings. Because the furry fandom is mostly queer, they’re going to hit more queer people than non-queer people when they do this. And they know that.
As with all dog-whistles, they’re inherently deniable, so asking for absolute proof is missing the point.
Furry is Queer and Anti-Fascist
Any sufficiently large group of humans will have a fringe group. Furry is no exception here.
What’s great about the furry fandom, however, is how resistant most of us are to fascist propaganda and rhetoric.
Not all of us, sadly, which is why we have incidents like this:
And there have also been some horrible people that also happened to be furries. Bad furries do not represent the entire furry fandom.
While it’s true that “one bad apple spoils the bunch”, it’s not true that “one bad apple spoils every apple in the entire universe”. And the difference in scale between those ideas isn’t ever articulated.
Whenever someone is publicly criticizing the furry fandom, ask yourself these three questions:
- Are they using obvious dog-whistles? (see above)
- Are they trying to help a community, or to score points in on social media?
- Are they grinding an ax because of a bad personal experience?
Incentives rule everything.
An Invitation to Journalists
I know you’re all extremely busy, but if you’re forced to write about an unbelievable story about furries, reach out to some of us first. Dogpatch Press is a great resource if you need something untangled.
Art by CMYKat.