Getting a Grip on Furry Fandom and Species Dysphoria Blues

It’s 2016. Time to check your Cishuman privilege.

People don't really understand furries. You think you do, because you saw them on Tosh.0 humping each other while wearing full-body plushwear. But seriously: No. With furryfest Furlandia 2016 landing softly at the airport Sheraton this weekend, it might be time to check your preconceptions about this much-maligned subculture and adopt a more supportive attitude toward people experiencing species dysphoria.

Furry means different things to different furries.

Furries get into furry fandom for a number of reasons, some more spiritual than others. There are many furries who report species dysphoria—similar to gender dysphoria in the trans community—and plenty of others who just like Star Fox video games and dressing up in costumes.

"Furry is actually difficult to define, explain or understand because it's very nebulous," says Furlandia spokesfurry Alexander Olivarez-Sanchez. "There is no central pillar like Star Trek, comic books or what not."

There are different degrees of furry.

Some furries go full furry. Others have just the ears. It is possible to identify furry without even dressing up.

Sydney "Moths" Whitcomb, founder of Mothsicle Suits (which produces furry costumes, called fursuits), says the main classification that defines furrydom is a mix of animal and human characteristics. A furry could be a four-legged talking dog, a bipedal wolf or a depressed bear.

Committing to furryhood is expensive.

Websites for the top fursuit producers don't even list prices. Instead, furries contact the site personally for a quote.

One national fursuit producer, Autumn Fallings, lists the average pricing for a full fursuit at $3,000 to $5,000. Another national producer, Dexterous Zombie, sells fursuits in partial pieces: sockpaws ($270), tails ($30), handpaws ($207), arm sleeves ($60) and masks ($800).

Through her site, Mothsicle Suits, Whitcomb made 10 costume pieces last year, and says business usually ranges from four and 10 pieces a year, depending on how busy she is with school.

"Supply costs change every few months, and prices can vary based on character designs," Whitcomb says. "Typically my partials can be as cheap as $500 and as expensive as $1,000."

It's fandom, not a fetish.

There are sexual fetishes within furry fandom, just as there are fetishes in Harry Potter fandom. (See "Words to the Wolves," WW, Sept. 11, 2012.) But if you boil the meat of furry fandom down to fetishism because anthropomorphic animals make you think of bestiality, who's the one with the problem?

GO: Furlandia 2016 is at the Sheraton Portland Airport Hotel, 8235 NE Airport Way, 503-281-2500,, on Friday-Sunday, May 27-29. $45.

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