On Identity

I read a book recently that focused on avian shifters who lived (although the details were a little fuzzy) side by side with humans. The avians couldn’t shift until later in life and didn’t go through their first partial shift until about 18. At this point it would be judged what kind of bird they were and it would set their spot in society, their rank. Raptors on top, ducks on the bottom (um, no pun intended). All the birds have a symbol that represents their specie and once they’ve completed a full shift, the symbol is tattooed on the inside of their wrist. Not, as some think, to let everyone instantly know the rank of the individual, but, as a hawk explains, because once everyone was proud of their specie and the role they played in society.

Perhaps I’m getting off track. My real focus here is the use of the tattoo to mark the identity of the avian. A mark that instantly explains certain traits about the individual based on bird-type.

I’ve been curious about a tattoo on my wrist ever since seeing the Watchers in Highlander: The Series, but I’ve always been hesitant because it’s such a visible spot, it’s a sensitive spot, and I wasn’t sure what I’d get there. I know what I’d get there now. I’d get the mark of my specie.

What? You say I’m not an avian shifter? Good point.

Humans love to categorize things: Animal, mineral or vegetable? Mammal, reptile or bird? Primate, feline, or canine? Monkey, ape or human? Male or female? Hetero-, homo-, or bisexual? Beautiful, ugly or plain?

The problem is that some animals and all people don’t fit into their categories. In the first, we have the platypus. In the second, we have bikers who run charities, priests who molest children, and an assortment in between. You’re probably one and I’m one too.

I’ve always wanted to fit into a category, and maybe everyone feels this way, but I think it’s because I so very much never fit into one. In high school there wasn’t the conflict of “smart kids” vs. “jocks,” as we often had cross overs. In my high school, cliques existed, but they didn’t rule the school. We didn’t have to fit into categories, although there were still guides of the “cool kids” and the “not cool kids” although bullying happened to a lesser extent than we hear today. (Or maybe I was just that naive). The point is, there wasn’t a category I had to fit into, not that I would have anyway.

But I think it’d be nice if I could get a mark that would let everyone know who I am. I don’t care if I’m in a category by myself (as we probably all are), I just want someone to see the mark and say, “Oh, you’re ____.”

Of course, it doesn’t work that way.

One, we all vary so much that the categories are just stereotypes, that while they may apply to some things, won’t apply to everything and everyone in the category. So maybe the category is just to give an idea of what a person is, that would work, right? Especially if the category is something chosen by the individual and not something society has pegged the person as (black, gay, female, etc).

Two, there is no way to ensure that the chosen mark would be interpreted by everyone correct or the same way. Some may not bother seeing the symbol, just the tattoo and judge that. “Oh, that’s someone who gets tattoos in visible places.”

Three, I still don’t feel like I fit into a category. And if I did, what would my mark be? I don’t know (yet), which is why my wrists remain bare. One day I will have a mark, and maybe it will be a mark I’ll share with another. And we two can be a category unto our selves. And, no, no one else will know what it means, but the creature in my heart will know, and really, that’s all that matters.

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