Hundreds of people identifying as dogs gathered in Berlin’s Potsdamer Platz railway station. The gathering, which saw around 1,000 “trans-species” activists, has sparked a wave of online debates and mockery.
Participants in the gathering communicated through barks and howls, posing for group photos and capturing the attention of commuters and social media users alike. Videos and images of the event quickly went viral, with many questioning the motives and mental state of the participants.
Members of this unique group assert that they do not identify as human beings. Instead, they claim to be animals, creatures, or even mythical beings. This form of identity is part of a broader movement known as “therianthropy”, where individuals identify as non-human animals.
The event has elicited a range of reactions online. Critics have been quick to mock the participants, with comments ranging from sarcastic to downright derisive. One user suggested testing the group’s “canine instincts” by abandoning them in the Siberian tundra. Another questioned the logic behind wearing masks if they identify as dogs, which do not typically wear face coverings.
This phenomenon is not isolated to Germany. One of the most well-known dog impersonators is Toco, a Japanese man who identifies as a Collie. Toco gained internet fame last year when images of his lifelike dog costume, costing an eye-watering £12,480, were posted online. His YouTube channel, where he shares videos of himself being taken for walks and performing tricks, has amassed over 52,000 subscribers.
Experts in the field of identity studies have called for a clear differentiation between “therians” and “furries”. While therians identify as non-human animals, furries are enthusiasts who enjoy dressing up in animal costumes but do not necessarily identify as the animals they portray.
While some view this as an extension of personal freedom and identity expression, others see it as a bizarre and concerning trend. The gathering in Berlin has certainly put the spotlight on the complex and often controversial world of identity politics. Whether this is a growing trend or a fleeting fad remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: it has unleashed a torrent of public opinion, both supportive and critical.
Image credit: Catch Up