BIID, Therianthropy, and a family of Identity-mismatch Disorders

The following is something that I have been wanting to discuss for over six months now. It has taken me a long time to find the right way to explain the topic, and in terms of content it happens that every time I come close to completing it, I discover more relevant information. Fortunately for me, a reader of my blog asked me about this matter, which I hinted at in the postscript to one of my previous posts, and I was thus forced to put it down in words. As such, I finally found myself with the basis for a blog post on the topic.

This is a matter which I have been thinking about for quite a long time. Many people with BIID, or who spend time in BIID communities, are probably familiar with the frequent comparisons between BIID and GID. It’s been suggested many times that maybe BIID and GID are one in the same thing, just different variants. As inconclusive as those discussions normally are, I found it hard to accept that they could not be the same thing – after all, I was able to take the DSM-V criteria for GID and replace “gender” with “disability” and then fit almost all the criteria myself. But yet, how can gender identity and disability identity have anything in common?

And then I found the key. Or rather, I experienced the key first-hand. When my BIID involuntarily went away, I found myself with another identity-mismatch. Not a mismatch of my non-disabled body to a disabled identity. And not a mismatch of a male body to a female identity. This was something different.

Enter Therianthropy.Read More »

BIID is common

BIID is common. Well, relatively common. More common than one would expect.

I have for a long time suspected that there are many more people with BIID than either we or medical researchers are aware of, that although there are maybe only in total a few thousand people with BIID posting on the internet in reality there are probably more like one or two people with BIID in every few thousand. Why do I believe that BIID is so common?

Many comparisons have been drawn, from multiple angles, between BIID and other formally-closeted topics such as homosexuality and transgenderism, and with regards to the present discussion we can draw another important comparison. Think about how common homosexuality is these days – chances are you might have spoken to a person who is homosexuality, or at least know of one personally even if you haven’t spoken to them yourself. Transgenderism is coming up in the news all the time, as celebrities from all areas of life – athletes, actors, singers, you name it – are opening up about their gender identity and, where applicable, their transition to the gender with which they identify. But think about how seemingly-uncommon these things were a hundred, or even fifty, years ago. The fact is, only once society opens up to something and accepts it as real and legitimate, then you start hearing about it. That’s when people with it are not afraid to hide who they are but are more willing to open up and talk about that particular side of themselves, sometimes even in very forthcoming ways.

If we apply the same pattern to BIID, then, which it seems like the logical pattern to apply, we are naive if we don’t expect BIID to be more common than it currently appears to be. Only once society opens up towards those with BIID will we be accepted enough for us to be willing to talk about ourselves, to pretend, to even participate in medical research, and ultimately to become the people who we need to be.

But what real evidence do I have to prove that BIID is more common than first meets the eye? To tell the truth, in the 18 or so months since I discovered BIID, I’ve seen at least two people who I can pretty certainly say have BIID. I told one of my non-BIID friends about this and while he found the idea of a “BIID radar” amusing he didn’t really believe that it was possible. But what would you say when you’re stopped at a pedestrian crossing watching the most inexperienced wheelchair user that you’ve ever seen (as evidenced by her pushing style), with the biggest smile on her face (the kind of smile that says “nothing else matters right now, because I’m in a wheelchair and that’s all I care about”), fail repeatedly to get across a road with the slightest hump in the middle (as most roads are), and refuse any and all offers of help (as people with BIID usually do)? Or a man with his eyes closed behind very weak refractive glasses (as evidenced by the thinness of the lenses and the lack of much visible refraction through them) walking with a white cane? (At least when I pretend in public I take my glasses off…) These things, that most people would never notice, jump out at me, because I understand them, because what most people would write off as “that doesn’t make sense” and immediately forget about are to me the obvious signs of BIID.

But that’s not where it ends. The real inspiration for this post is that, despite having posted nothing new in exactly a month, my blog has still been receiving a steady stream of traffic of on average at least five page views a day from at least three visitors (some days I get over ten views from over five visitors, and other days I get just one or two views). Most of this traffic has, understandably for such a quiet blog, been coming from search engines (actual searches that people have typed in, not search engine crawler robots). Sadly WordPress.com doesn’t give me many of the actual search queries that readers are searching for (Google hides that information from the site visited but Bing doesn’t), but guess which posts have been the most popular? Not random rants about administrators of IRC channels. The most popular posts over the past month have been the posts about BIID. The posts about my experiences as a pretender, my tips for dealing with BIID, and the most popular post of them all: Current BIID support groups. In fact, almost all of the Bing search queries were along the lines of “biid support group”, “biid support”, “support group for biid” and so on.

What does this tell me? That BIID is as common as I have, for a long time, believed it to be. There are people out there who are afraid to talk about their feelings, but who come to my blog as another step in understanding themselves. Some of them need to talk, but don’t know where to turn to find people who will understand them. But the bottom line is that there are people with BIID out there, and until the medical community catches up with the situation we must offer all of the support that we can. We need to tell people where to find us, and when they do find us, we need to give them what they need – whether that’s someone to talk to or just a few blog posts to read before slipping back into the closet, better prepared to tame the beast that’s been holding them captive for as long as they can remember.


I would also like to use this opportunity to highlight an important personal matter, which I have not until now known how to address. It’s a long story, but the short version is that I do not believe myself to have BIID any longer. There are very few stories of people being cured of BIID, but it does happen. In my case, however, I do not believe that I was cured, thus I cannot offer any advice in this area, but my BIID has gone away by itself (perhaps there is such a thing as transient or short-term BIID, or perhaps there is another reason why my BIID went away, but the truth is that I don’t know and it doesn’t really matter – the important thing is that it’s gone now). Nevertheless I did have BIID for a time and I have written this post from the perspective of myself as a BIID sufferer, because after all I have been a BIID sufferer in the past and I understand how BIID feels and how difficult it can be to manage. I do not want this postscript to lessen any of what I have said in this post, or in the past, as it does not lessen any of my knowledge of or experience with BIID.

I would also like to introduce a greater matter that I feel is important, regarding the “bigger picture” surrounding BIID, as it were. BIID does not exist in isolation, but to me it appears to be part of a bigger spectrum of “disorders”. I am afraid of saying too much at this stage as some of what I want to discuss is controversial in the BIID community and I fear that I may be ridiculed, but it is an important matter which I feel I must make known somehow, and in due course I hope to discuss this further on my blog, when I have enough information to properly formulate a discussion on the topic.

This will probably be my last post about BIID directly, and certainly my last post as a BIID sufferer, but as someone who has once had BIID but no longer has it I am able to see BIID from both a first-hand and an outside perspective, just as pretenders are able to see disability from multiple perspectives, and this has enabled me to see a bigger picture surrounding BIID and many other issues, tying together multiple “disorders” that have so far been regarded as completely separate (to the extent that I could safely say that those experiencing one of these “disorders” probably have no knowledge of many – if any – of the others) but which are actually different manifestations of the same thing, for when I read of them and of people’s experiences with them I see in them parallels with my own and others’ experiences with BIID, to the extent that the “disorders” themselves are self-evidently a parallel of BIID.

Inquisitive Girl

Many transabled people have written about the young, open minds of children when it comes to disabilities. It even features in a lot of fiction written by transabled people for transabled people. After all, we have a unique perspective on the world, experiencing it both as a disabled person and a non-disabled person, and we can take an outside view on the way that people with disabilities are treated by society, having experienced this ourselves first-hand. And now I have my own story to tell.

I was heading towards the bus stop while pretending, and I must admit that I was a bit lost. This bus stop has two shelters and three places where the buses can stop, and even though I knew which part of the stop I needed to head for  knowing which part of the stop I’m actually at is a different matter. Presumably I looked lost too, for as I approached the stop an old lady (at least, I assume she was old because her voice sounded weak and worn) grabbed my arm – yes, I know it’s annoying when people do that – and asked me “are you OK?”. I said that I was needing the number 6 bus to Middleton (I’ve removed identifying details from this post) and asked if I was at the correct stop, which she confirmed. She then guided me to the bench in the bus stop and begged me to sit down, with which I complied considering that I had just missed the 15:42 bus and would have to wait half an hour for the next bus.

I hadn’t been sitting there long before I heard a young girl’s voice (about ten years old) at my two o’clock, and she seemed to be talking to a middle-aged woman who had arrived on my left (the latter of which was not her mother but did seem to be related to her in some way). She was asking the older woman to sing a song “from the 21st century”, although of course in the style typical of children her age she didn’t wait for a response before explaining that her mother was born in the 20th century but she was born in the 21st century and that the 22nd century would come in the year 2100. Feeling that such a comment would be appropriate for her age, I interjected in a casual manner by saying “yes, because the centuries are counted from 1 but the years are counted from 0”.

A few more minutes of silence ensued, and during this time I contemplated what I would say if anyone asked me about my blindness. This isn’t something that I’ve really had to consider before, and I was perturbed by pretending in public on my own without having a cover story ready. And rightly so, because just then the same girl that I had heard speaking before asked me “were you born with your eyes closed?”.Read More »

Excuses for the cane

Wheelchair pretenders really have it easy. There are so many excuses that can be used when one unexpectedly crops up in a wheelchair, and again when they return a few days later back to their former walking self. One can explain “part-time” wheelchair use to people that see them every day. On reading archives of transabled.org, one finds such excuses ranging from “back pain” to a vague “neurological problem” and anything else which may in part be true or may be completely made-up or even a non-existent condition which sounds plausible enough that people believe it.

But there is no such luck for blind pretenders. We can’t say “sometimes I can see well enough to walk without a cane but sometimes I need to use the cane” like wheelchair pretenders can say “sometimes I can walk well enough but other times I need the chair”. Sure, we can claim “deteriorating vision”, but then it’s not going to be convincing to walk around with fully obscured vision, so the pretender would have to be willing to accept simulated partial/blurry vision in place of complete blindness for their pretending (something which does nothing to help with my BIID).

No, if you’re going to pretend to be blind you have to do it full-time. So you have to be practiced enough that people don’t wonder why you aren’t still in rehab. You have to have a story ready for when people ask the inevitable questions, and your story has to be able to explain how you could go straight from apparently fully-sighted to fully-blind overnight without any sign of shock or taking any time off studying/work for rehab. That’s a pretty tricky situation, and once you’ve taken that step you’re locked in; you can’t just say “my sight got better again” like wheelchair pretenders can say “my joint pain subsided”, even if your BIID has gone quiet and you don’t feel the need to pretend as much, or you find that really pretending isn’t working as a treatment option.

Maybe there’s something I’m missing, but it really seems like wheelchair pretenders have it easy. They can pretend right in front of regular acquaintances, no questions asked; while it might be easier to physically simulate blindness than it is to simulate paralysis, the logistics of pretending once you leave the house are considerably more difficult.

Three requirements for BIID treatment

In considering possible therapies and treatments for BIID, I have been trying to determine what functions effective BIID treatment must perform. I have come to the conclusion that there are three requirements for BIID treatment to be effective, and that these relate closely to the three ways in which identity is determined:

  • One’s state of being
  • The way one experiences oneself
  • The way one is experienced by others

Thus effective BIID treatment must allow the sufferer to:

  • Take on the physical state of having the required disability
  • Experience oneself as having the required disability
  • Be experienced by others as having the required disability

I’m going to look more in depth at these and then look at how potential treatments relate to these criteria.Read More »

Why wheelchairs are triggering

As regular readers of my blog will know, my particular BIID variant concerns blindness, not paraplegia. So why are wheelchairs triggering to me? Why does seeing someone in a wheelchair, or talking about wheelchairs, make all my BIID feelings return?

I have spent considerable time contemplating this, and I have come to the conclusion that there are a number of different reasons:

When I read about paralysis-variant BIID sufferers, I draw comparisons with my own feelings about blindness

This is perhaps the most obvious one. In reality, the wheelchair has nothing to do with it but what’s actually going on is that I’m reading about their feelings about paralysis and their experience of being in a wheelchair, and I think about my feelings about blindness and my experience with pretending to be blind. I read their account of getting their first wheelchair, and I think about how I felt when I got my white cane. In short, reading about other BIID sufferers – whatever variant – reminds me of my own feelings, for better or for worse.

Seeing a wheelchair user reminds me of BIID

This is an extension of the previous situation. Because most of the BIID literature concerns wheelchair “wannabes”, either because of amputation or because of paraplegia, one who reads a lot of BIID literature starts to associate wheelchairs with BIID. So seeing a wheelchair user reminds me of BIID, which reminds me of my feelings.

As a BIID sufferer, I am a lot more aware of disability issues

As someone with BIID, I spend a lot of time reading and thinking about disability in general. When I’m in a public place, I think about the accessibility issues that people with different disabilities – not just blindness – may have. Furthermore, I am a lot more aware of disability issues because I have read a lot about the issues faced by both naturally disabled people and disability pretenders. And for me, disability is strongly linked with BIID, and thinking about disability tends to remind me of BIID. So seeing or talking about wheelchairs (or any other disability or assistive aid or anything related to disability in general) is likely to remind me of BIID.

Armless, the movie

A few days ago I watched the film “Armless”. Having previously seen Quid Pro Quo, I was hoping for a similar nice overview of BIID but with more of a lighthearted touch, as the film was supposed to be a comedy. This, I thought, would be an interesting mixture and something that I believe the right filmmakers could have pulled off very well.

Let me start by saying that it failed at both. It’s probably the worst representation of BIID that I have seen from the media (even worse than the recent Jewel Shuping story), and this is particularly disappointing considering that this film was released two years later than Quid Pro Quo, the latter of which gave an almost perfect representation. The comedy elements are also rather cheap, and are incredibly thin and dry most of the time. The plot also remains rather flat, and the ending is disappointing although could have been better with a different build-up.

Nevertheless there were a few funny moments, and perhaps two continued gags. There’s plenty to keep a viewer laughing on the surface for most of the film, but it’s not the kind of in-depth, well-planned comedy that I value. And considering that there is pretty much no value in the film from a BIID perspective – if anything it does more harm than good – I can’t see any reason for someone to watch this film over and above any other mediocre comedy, BIID sufferer or otherwise.

I’ve given a more in-depth look at the film below, however this section contains spoilers. You have been warned.Read More »

Born blind

I’ve figured out why I wasn’t born blind: if I was, then I would never truly appreciate blindness as it would be all that I had ever known. Now I just need to figure out why I wasn’t blinded in an accident.

Micheal Johnson

Quid Pro Quo, the movie

Yesterday I decided that I really ought to watch the film “Quid Pro Quo”, a.k.a. the BIID film. I’ve known about it pretty much since I first started researching BIID, but so far I had not thought to watch it.

Overall I’d say that it was a good film. Bearing in mind that this is 2008 that we’re talking about, it gives a surprisingly accurate representation of BIID, considering the usual mis-portrayals that the media somehow manage to come out regarding even things as common as blindness. Although it focuses specifically on the paralysis variant of BIID, one could easily apply the ideas suggested to any other variant.

On the other hand, the plot had numerous holes in it and was not exactly consistent, generally falling apart in places and the end of the film could quite easily be from a different story to the beginning – although that might have been the intention. The general tone is that of a drama with a bit of a thriller thrown in in places, and the plot and portrayal thereof also has quite a heavy psychological element.

As someone with BIID, I’d say that the film hit home with me in a lot of places, despite me personally having the less-common blindness variant of BIID, and I could frequently identify with the characters. I also found that the depicted relationships between the paralysed protagonist and the “wannabes” was very close to the real-life experiences of people with BIID that I have read about. Nevertheless I found the “creepy” aspect a bit offputting in the beginning and slightly offensive, although this softened as I got further into the film.

For someone without BIID, I can’t see much in the film that makes it exactly amazing. The plot is interesting, and contains a lot of small details about BIID which are actually true, so from an informational point of view the film is better than one would expect for something of this nature, but I can’t imagine someone without BIID really being able to engage with the story. The numerous plot holes also detract from this element, and quite frankly I think the film is of rather poor quality apart from its informational accuracy. For someone trying to learn more about BIID, however, I would say that the film does offer a good overview however it is important to bear in mind the factual inaccuracies which I will point out below.

I’ve given a more in-depth look at the film below, however this section contains spoilers. You have been warned.Read More »