The Poppy Field near Argenteuil by Claude Monet

DID Diva asks:

I feel as though I’ve noticed a recent influx of DID systems on social media, especially TikTok. I believe that these disorders exist, but I’m not convinced many (if any) of those online actually have the disorder. I have mental health issues myself, and while I personally wouldn’t be inclined to post about it, I understand some people do. But making it your entire brand all the time? That seems extreme, even with a chronic mental health condition. 

How can I support a friend who claims to have DID when I really don’t feel like they do?

Need a primer on plural terminology? Feel free to check out my column on “Polyamorous Plurality!”

DID Diva, I spent my entire adolescence attempting to arbitrate others’ gender identities. My opinions were cruel, my self-awareness was poor, and I made myself much more miserable than if I’d minded my own business. 

While I understand transness is often separate from plurality, it sounds like you’ve experienced similar frustrations towards these TikTok-famous systems. Given you’ve used “DID” as a standin for the plural population, you probably feel that there should be strict criteria in place to prevent people from appropriating the plural label. You don’t care for people who conceive of plurality outside of the medical model, especially when they tout their difference as an exciting personality trait. Worst of all, this trend has infected your friends and loved ones, so your quiet distaste grows louder by the second! How can you reconcile your love for your friend with your suspicions around their identity?

As I warned Polyamorous Plurality back in October, your friend would probably be heartbroken if they discovered you doubt their validity. If you’d like to maintain your friendship with them, I’d instead recommend one of the following options:

  1. Ask your friend if they’d be comfortable discussing their plurality with you. Enter the conversation with an open mind; don’t cut in with argumentative facts or figures. If you’re interested in finding genuine ways to support them, who better to hear from than the source? Regardless of whether or not you have faith in their lived experience, you might find what they’re asking of you to be easier than you’d expect.
  2. Read up on the plural community. The funny dancing music app is, as you may know, often not reflective of real world community dynamics. Through consuming more grounded, grounding resources by plural adults, you may come to find you have more respect for their struggles than initially assumed. 

But if you can’t find the motivation to change your current perspective, I recommend you either leave their side… or learn to just grin and bear it. Nothing but resentment will come from trying to convince someone that they should change their identity, and if it’s truly a phase, at the end of the day, their plurality, too, shall pass.

HYPER/TEXT is a queer advice column for the digital age: a space for subcultural dilemmas that leave offline friends scratching their heads. Should you block your best friend over lesbian discourse? What on Earth is a “kinnie?” Check in biweekly for answers to these questions and more as we explore the lives of the hyper-online!

Got questions? Submit HERE or via hypertextterse@gmail.com.

Fox Auslander is a nonbinary poet born, raised, and based in Philadelphia. They are one of three co-lead poetry editors at Alien Magazine and one of two co-editors at Delicate Friend. Find them on Twitter @circumgender.

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