Girl Comes Out To Her Mom As A 'Therian' — Is Disappointed With Her Lack Of Acceptance

Her mom was less than understanding of her daughter's announcement that she identifies as a non-human.

mom and daughter not speaking to each other, coming out as therian / Shutterstock; @walkin_on_cat_paws / TikTok

When kids come out it, can really throw their parents for a loop, and today's increasingly complicated array of identities and orientations can make the process even more confusing and fraught.

When one girl on TikTok named Micaela came out to her mom, she definitely didn't handle it the way her daughter had hoped. But while the mom could have been kinder, many people are finding it hard to fault her for her response.


She came out as a 'therian' and was disappointed by her mom's response.

What is a therian?

Now, if you're like most people, you read that and immediately said, "What is a therian?"

Therians are people who identify strongly as a non-human animal, or at least as part-animal. Therians share a special connection with this particular animal, whether it's psychologically, spiritually, and/or emotionally, taking on their specific behaviors.

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So, therian is just another word for furry, right? Not exactly.


Furries are more about animal cosplay, sometimes as part of sexual fetish play. Therians, on the other hand, who are sometimes also called "otherkins," believe they are an animal, at least to some degree.

Perhaps the most famous example is a Japanese YouTuber named Toco, who has recently gone viral several times after revealing his extraordinarily realistic $15,000 collie suit he uses to live his life as a dog. 



As Dr. Elizabeth Fein, associate professor of psychology at Pittsburgh's Duquesne University, explains it, a therian "might, for example, believe that they are a cat soul reincarnated into a human body. Some furries are therians, and some therians are furries, but they are two distinct groups."


When the young girl came out as a therian who identifies as a cat, her mom was less than understanding.

If you're confused by this whole therian thing, you're certainly not alone — even famous therians like Toco have expressed fear that their friends will shun them if they know their true identity, and TikToker @walkin_on_cat_paws was similarly disappointed when her mom struggled to understand her whole identifying-as-a-cat-deal.



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Through text message screenshots, she showed in her video how her mother responded to her announcing that she identifies as a cat and wishes to begin living that way. "Lol I cannot," her mother wrote in response when she came out as a therian. "Do you really feel that way?" she went on to ask. "Are you sure that it's not just that you love animals?"


The more the girl insisted she was sincere in her identity as a cat, especially after getting a 94% on an online quiz to determine if you're a therian, the more her mom seemed unable to wrap her head around it. "We're not doing this," she wrote. "Absolutely no. You're not a cat."

tiktok where girl came out as a therian and was disappointed by her mom's responsePhoto: @walkin_on_cat_paws / TikTok

Her mom even confessed to having bullied people in high school for making similar claims, and expressed that she was worried Micaela will be treated similarly. "I don't want people to make fun of you," she wrote, "find something else to like," going on to try to reason with her daughter on the basis that "you're deciding this off a test you took on the internet."


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The girl was very hurt by her mom's reaction to her new therian identity — but many people couldn't blame the mom for her response.

Micaela wrote in onscreen comments that her mom's reaction made her cry, but a lot of people were on her side. "No way, I'd be much meaner if my kid said this, your mom's an angel" one commenter joked. Even other self-described therians took issue with Micaela's video, with several countering that a person can't determine a therian identity via an online quiz.

Micaela hasn't let that dissuade her, however. 



Some LGBTQ+ people were also upset with Micaela's coming out story. "As somebody who was shunned by their mother for being Trans, what is this," one person commented.


It's easy to understand why queer people would be deeply irritated by this topic — there's a historical, biological, and/or medical basis for things like homosexuality or transgender identities. Not so with identifying as an animal.

But, of course, that wasn't always the case; even the medical establishment once considered queer identities to be mental illnesses for ages until further research revealed that not to be the case.

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So far, there's no scientific consensus on therians, but their identity has been used for transphobic hate campaigns.

Though a 2019 study at the University of Northampton found a correlation between therian identities and conditions like autism and even some schizotypal spectrum disorders, there is not as yet any well established science — or even a ton of research, for that matter — on exactly what is going on when it comes to a therian identity.


Here's one thing that is for certain, at least for now: therians are rare, despite claims made in several transphobic disinformation campaigns about massive numbers of schoolchildren demanding litter boxes in schools because they identify as cats.

These thoroughly debunked claims come almost exclusively from TERFs [Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists] and transphobic far-right activists like Matt Walsh, who has made them in his discredited anti-trans documentary "What Is A Woman?"

The claims are frequently cited as evidence of overreach in accommodating transgender identities in schools, but apart from a few isolated cases — none of which involve litter boxes — there is no truth to them.


As for Micaela's mom? While understandable, her reaction when her daughter came out as a therian may not have been her finest moment.

But she did at least do what experts say is the most important thing when it comes to children coming out to their parents — affirmed her love and acceptance of her daughter, even if she wasn't exactly understanding. That's a lot more than a lot of queer people ever get.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.