We are mix. ileim moss, and as a collective we do not use pronouns. We are a plural system. We cannot understand speech or speak and communicate through American Sign Language, text, and Text-to-Speech programs as our AAC. Some of us are writers, painters, illustrators, and all of us are students. We are opinionated, creative, and live our commitment to dialectical materialism and Judaism in different ways.
We understand our disabilities, neurodivergence, and alterhumanity through the lens of queercrip, transMad, and alterhuman criticism of the prison industrial complex, the medical industrial complex, capitalism, and the logics of productivity, pathology, and punishment which underlay their systems. Criticism of these systems is incomplete without simultaneously engaging in intersectional analysis of white supremacy, cisheteropatriarchy, colonialism, and imperialism in such a way that honors the impact our identities have on our politics without privileging a label over nuanced and thoughtful opinion. Further, we see this lens as a vital and inseparable extension of our commitment to Judaism, the healing of spacetime, and to liberation from all that suppresses ever-diversifying life.
Instead of using pronouns for us as a collective, use our name. ileim, moss, and ileim moss are all fine. In the second-person, "you," "u," "you&," "u&," "yall/y'all" are all fine, but do not refer to us as "you guys," "guys," "dudes," or other gendered terminology. Some of us are comfortable with specific terms on an individual basis, but these are only appropriate if you know us well. For a breif elaboration specific system members, see our section below on structure: link. We do not publicize discussions of our origin and feel very strongly that nomany should be expected to disclose this information in order to have their plurality respected.
In our work you may see references made to the mashup “bio-psycho-spiritual-political” (the dashes intended to promote readability). We use this term as a means of communicating that, at least for us, these are all intertwined. Our body is our mind is our spirit/soul is our politically experienced sense of selves. We can not meaningfully carve them apart from each other in our material, immaterial, and religious experiences.
Of course there is nuance involved: the experience of hallucinations, dreams, innerworlds, and “spirituality” cannot be said to be exactly the same as what is experienced in meatspace and cannot be handled nor articulated as equivocal. This also isn’t to say that these experiences are immune to criticism, but rather to acknowledge the ways they intersect and influence the material. This absolutely includes ways spirituality and religion can and are used to enact and reinforce oppression. Rather, these are experiences which — regardless of your personal beliefs in G/d, gods, souls, spirits, other worlds, magic, etc. — do have an impact on our shared material reality through the experience and communication of them, which makes outright denial of subjective experience or separation from the “real” ineffective and insufficient for addressing any conflicts that arise from their expression.
1. For a glossary, see below or click here: link.
2. Innerworlds or inner worlds — also called headspaces or paracosms — are realms of experience separate, though not always completely, from meatspace. Often when used by plural and multiple systems this refers to a shared landscape or landscapes where members of the system may be able to go when not at front. There is a wide range of experiences in how these landscapes are felt, accessed, and remembered and often even members of the same collective experience their inner world in different ways. We try to avoid using the term "headspace" as it implies a mind-body division we don't experience. That is not to say our appearances in headspace are exactly like how we appear externally, but that these internal perceptions and sensations of embodiment influence and are influenced by our external embodied experience.
3. The quotation marks are not to imply that what is spiritual is unreal or should be dismissed, rather it is to represent uncertainty over whether we can meaningfully distinguish between what is or is not spiritual, particularly for other's subjective experiences.
4. Meatspace refers to "The physical world, as opposed to the virtual world of the Internet." (source: Wikitionary) We would perhaps also add "and the inner worlds, headspaces, and parocosms experienced internally." Understandably, a lot of plurans are what one might call "highly online" and our terminology exists in an ever-flowing exchange between subcultures.
Seen in words like "anymany" and "somemany", the "-many" is used to specify that the subjects of discussion are plural and to affirm their plurality. For the same reason, many plurals will attach an ampersand to second person pronouns when discussing plural subjects: "you&," "yours&" (the ampersand is either pronounced "-and" or "-n" according to personal preference).
From the coiner, Elizabeth Brake: "Amatonormativity is ... the widespread assumption that everyone is better off in an exclusive, romantic, long-term coupled relationship, and that everyone is seeking such a relationship." (source). Amatonormativity particularly subjugates aromantic and polyamorous people.
Augmentive and Alternative Communication (AAC)
From the Self Advocacy Resource and Technical Assistance Center: "Any method of communication that someone uses when they cannot speak with their mouth." "Augmentative" refers to adding or amplifying, and "Alternative" to replacing. (source)
Working definition from Talila A. Lewis, updated January 2022 : "A system of assigning value to people's bodies and minds based on societally constructed ideas of normalcy, productivity, desirability, intelligence, excellence, and fitness. These constructed ideas are deeply rooted in eugenics, anti-Blackness, misogyny, colonialism, imperialism, and capitalism. This systemic oppression that leads to people and society determining people's value based on their culture, age, language, appearance, religion, birth or living place, "health/wellness", and/or their ability to satisfactorily re/produce, "excel" and "behave." You do not have to be disabled to experience ableism." (source.)
From Plurality Resource: "The term used to refer to the headmate of a person with DID/MPD. This is used by psychiatry and is generally considered derogatory to members of the plural community as it implies being one-dimensional, or an ‘alter’ of someone. It is, however, still used by some. [Fragment, Aspect, Personality]" (source>)
From Alt+H: "adjective: A subjective identity which is beyond the scope of what is traditionally considered ‘being human’.
noun: A person with such an identity." (source).
This is an umbrella term including a large spectrum of identification and experience. We highly recommend clicking the source link above and having a look through Alt+H's education section to learn more.
American Sign Language (ASL)
Also known as Visual American Sign Languge (VASL) — as opposed to Tactile or Pro-Tactile ASL, which incorporate touch in order to facilitate communication for those who are DeafBlind and their community — V/ASL is "a visual language. ... The shape, placement, and movement of the hands, as well as facial expressions and body movements, all play important parts in conveying information." From the National Association of the Deaf (source).
We would probably add here the caveat that, though VASL is a visual language, it cannot be assumed that people who know ASL have super-vision and the range of communication techniques used by those who are deaf or hard-of hearing and are low-vision or blind includes not just creative uses of visual cues but also tactile cues of a wide variety. Further, the way ASL is embodied is not just visual, but also incorporates sound-production and the memory of other senses deeply. It is not just a code for English, and when used fluently it evokes a full-bodyminded poetry of sensory experience.
The term bodymind (or body-mind) is associated with Disability Studies and the criticism of a mind-body split central to Cartesian Dualism. We use this term in this vein and with the intent of reclaiming agency over our full experience of being. This doesn't mean that our internal self-image is not in conflict with how we externally experience the world and percieve our body/our body is perceived, but rather that we refuse to disown our body in the process of affirming our mind or deny the ways in which it, too is expressed in our dysphorias (and euphorias!). In the words of Eli Clare, the bodymind is "one tangled, complicated, complex, ambiguous, contradictory entity"(source).
Some of us may also use the phrase "bodymindspirit" (or body-mind-spirit) to communicate a similar message: our body, mind, and spirit, are not seperable from each other. They are each entangled constituting, contradicting, communicating, and complicating the others. Those of us inclined towards spirituality understand reincarnation as a process continually renewed and embodied through engagement with the world: consuming food, creating art, socializing, resting, breathing, cell death and division — each of these and so much more bring in diverse forms of life in order to sustain and carry out a life that is enmeshed in this process of giving and taking lives. We were/are/will be the earth, the water, the air, the stardust, the non-human persons with whom we share all of the above and more. Divine sparks flow in each exchange and transformation of matter and through this exchange we embodimind what may be called an ongoing dialogue of spirit, of soul, or perhaps "just" life.
conscious or co-conscious/co-con
Merriam Webster defines conscious as "having mental faculties not dulled by sleep, faintness, or stupor; awake; perceiving, apprehending, or noticing with a degree of controlled thought or observation" (source). In the plural community referring to a given system member as conscious, as opposed to fronting (see below: link), means that they are present and may have influence or commentary over the front but are not necessarily actively engaged.
From Plurality Resource, co-consciousness or co-con is "A state of being when two or more members of a system are experiencing the world at the same time. Being co-conscious does not mean you can always tell the other person is there. However, thoughts and feelings may become mixed. Being co-conscious is considered a goal in the plural community: it allows for easier communication. [Co-present]"
A member who is conscious but not fronting may communicate with and through those in front but there may also be barriers to this communication. The blurring of barriers may also itself be a barrier and there may be difficulty identifying who is who, where thoughts, feelings, and memories are coming from. This is rarely permanent, and it is important not to pressure a those experiencing confusion to try and "decide" who they are and who you are interacting with.
as in cripple, a reclaimed slur that signifies a militant bio-psycho(-spiritual)-political incompatibility and antagonism towards assimilation. The crip is a creative survivor who names, criticizes, and seeks to dismantle ablenationalist standards of productivity, health, sanity.
Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), Otherwise Specified Dissociative Disorder (OSDD), Unspecified Dissociative Disorder (USDD)
These are disorders which may manifest in plural systems. They are specifically trauma disorders and despite conventional belief they are neither the only manifestation of plurality nor necessarily always the cause of plurality in those who have them. This is not the place to go into detail on the diagnostic criteria, but they are characterized by distress and dissociative symptoms (amnesia, depersonalization, derealization). Not everyone with these disorders identifies as plural or even multiple, and no one is obligated to tell you their diagnostic history.
endogenic (endo)/traumagenic/-genic terminology
an origin term describing a plural system that has an internal (endo-) origin (-genic). Often it is used as an umbrella term for any plural that has an origin that isn't trauma (traumagenic) and also often mistakenly used to mean "non-disordered." However, there are plural systems with origins that are not accurately described as internal or traumatic, and endogenic systems can have disorders. Individual plural systems may even have members with different origins, for example a system who was born plural, later developed trauma and system members to cope with it, and then developed headmates through an intentional or unintentional bond with a fictional character. Such a system would be protogenic (born plural or plural since earliest memories), traumagenic(originating from trauma), and parogenic (originating from thought or metaphyical means).
For more information on the origins of these origin terms, see this piece by the coiner: link. For more on specific plural terminology, see Pluralpedia: link. For alternative origin terms, see this coining post by emmengard for Unknown/Adaptive/Created/Spontaneous: link
As a noun: the first-person perspective of meatspace occupied by a system member when they are engaged in and/or interacting with it directly.
As a verb: to engage or interact with meatspace directly.
From Wikitionary: "Having difficulty hearing" (source). This is a broad term that encompasses a wide spectrum of possible conditions and experiences of sound. Some people, but far from most, with an Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) or Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) — with or without comorbid hearing loss of any type — may identify as being hard-of-hearing and have similar access needs. It isn't appropriate to ask for someone's medical history unless they are coming to you for treatment and you are trained in how to affirm their privacy, but it is important to find out what their access needs are and to adapt accordingly. There is no communication method that works universally for all deaf, Deaf, and Hard-of-Hearing people, so be flexible and attentive to your own needs and creativity.
a member of a plural system. Preferred by many over medicalized terminology like "alter" or "part." We generally avoid using the term "headmate" when describing ourselves as it implies our head is where we reside, as opposed to the entire bodymind which we share. When we describe each other in ASL, we use the signs for "system" and "roomate" abbreviated into two quick movements.
as in "crazy," "psycho," "unhinged, "batshit" and so on, reclaimed as a political identifier by the Mad Pride movement, a part of the psychiatric survivor movement. Mad pride seizes hold of the uncooperative, unproductive, unseemly ways of being that we are demanded to suppress and lays the way for healing pathways not leading towards normalcy but towards community possible when tapping into these Mad knowledges. Madness reclaims the weapons of sanism and holds "insanity" as a site of transformation from pathology to potential, from disordered to discovery, from crisis to connection.
unable to speak. This can be for a variety of reasons, and not everyone who is mute is completely unable to speak at all or all the time. Some common terminology is "Selectively Mute" or "Situationally Mute" meaning being able to speak in some situations but not in others. Being mute is not a choice, and regardless of the reasoning behind the mutism it is never appropriate to pressure a mute person to speak or to treat them speaking as evidence of lying. Often used interchangably with the word "dumb." We strongly discourage calling anyone dumb.
There are many, many, different takes on what qualifies and constitutes a "person" and the subject is highly controversial philosophically, politically, and legally. We are using this space to clarify our own definition in a way that is unlikely to offer much clarity: a person is a being. Personhood does not require sentience, sapience, cognition, or humanity.
We seek to move away from applying personhood and its associated rights (agency, self-definition, right to life, liberty, respect and recognition) to arbitrary definitions around what is considered "animate" versuse "inanimate" and opt for a definition of "person" as anyone/thing/many which exists, regardless of how it is perceived or any abilities it may be recognized as having. A grain of sand is no less a person than a mountain than an armadillo than a human being. The goal of acknowledging personhood in all that we encounter is to move away from "what is the use of this thing?" to "how can i engage with this person respectfully? What can i learn from this person when i put aside projections of humanity or inhumanity, subject or object, and engage with how this person is communicating with me?"
And yes, we do mean communicating with rocks and animals and trees and all of it. Communication does not only mean language (arbitrary signals) but can also be something held between the sharing of presence and time that is anything but arbitrary.
MoreThanOne.info defines plurality as "the existence of multiple self-aware entities inside one physical brain." (source). Plurality describes the spectrum from singlet to multiple and can describe everything in between, including many dissociative disorders like Dissociative Identity Disorder, Other Specified Dissociative Disorder, and Unspecified Dissociative Disorder however, not everyone with one of these disorders identifies themselves as plural or even neccessarily multiple. This may be for many reasons, such as political discomfort with the Plural movement or due to not experiencing themself as "multiple entities," and likely many other reasons. When describing someone else, use the language they use for themself/selves.
Further, while there is a lot of overlap between the plural community and the soulbonding and parogenic/tulpamancy communities, not everyone involved in these communities describes themselves as plural for many reasons. Again, use the terminology others use for themselves.
We struggle with the last two words, which imply a physical-mental divide and an experience of plurality that we feel is inaccurate, constricting. We want a world where we are considered with the fullness of our being and not merely as entities of the mind concentrated soley in the brain inside our skull. When we look to body systems (!) we see interconnection, we see ourselves, and we see that we've been tasked with the responsibility of representing all these consitituent systems, organs, cells, atoms — tasked with a responsibility to represent this plurality in a way that honors this interconnection and division. When we switch, and even when we front together, we experience our bodymind in different ways, plurality felt through all the ways in which we feel. Even those of us most disconnected from our externally experienced and perceived body do have a claim to it in its fullness and are influenced by living within/as it.
For now, we leave you with the above definition and our comments, and encourage anymany's thoughts.
the Plural movement
With a capital "P," the Plural movement and Plural Pride seek to end the stigmatization and pathologization of plurality. The Plural movement takes a militant stand against discriminating against plurals who choose to define themselves outside the lense of psychiatry. Not everyone who experiences multiplicity identifies as p/Plural, and there are many with DID/OSDD who do not identify as multiple or plural either. This is not a problem, and self-/selves-definition is crucial. It is in the spirit of self-/sleves-determination, as well as criticism of psychiatry more broadly, that the Plural movement takes a radically inclusive and non-judgemental perspective on systems who describe their origins or identity outside the bounds laid by the (unproven) theory of structural dissociation, which claims plurality/multiplicity is only caused by trauma during a specific time period in childhood. The opposite view, that plurality/multiplicity is only ever disordered and only occurs as the result of trauma, is called system-medicalism, or sysmedicalism.
plural system/multiple system
A plural or multiple system is a collective of consciousnesses sharing a bodymind. Everyone is a system of collaborating processes (such as nervous, respiratory, gastrointestinal, circulatory, immune, etc.), but not every system experiences multiple self-aware and identifying consciousnesses. A bodymind system with only one consciousness is called a "singlet". For more on systems theory and terminology, see our piece: link
Pluralmisia refers to hatred of plurality, and pluralphobia to fear of plurality. We tend towards using the term "pluralmisia" mostly because, while fear is an accurate description of many reactions to plurality, our experience of plural oppression is that it is the structures of hatred which cultivate these fear responses and underly their expression. More often than not violence towards plurals is not motivated primarily by fear of the plural, but rather on a systemic hatred for plurality and the way it exposes weaknesses in the domination of psychiatry as an operating arm of imperialist hegemony.
as in strange, outside the bounds "normal" and playing with "normal" with the express intent of upsetting those norms. As a verb: "Queering describes the practices of ... reveal[ing] latent queer subtexts; of appropriating a representation for one’s own purposes, forcing it to signify differently; or of deconstructing a representation’s heterosexism." from Carrie Sandahl's "Queering the Crip or Cripping the Queer?" (link)
is where the queer and crip meet, affirm, love, and create with each other. It is the union that rebukes pleas for "marriage equality" under patriarchal capitalism and the right to live and die a wage-slave. The queercrip demands liberation that is not contingent on amatonormativity, heteronormativity, nor the approval of the medical industrial complex. Where queer and crip meet time bends and breaks so that our histories and futures find themselves tangled inside our bodies and ready to forge themselves and ourselves anew. These are sites of recognition, transformation, liberation, healing, and love.
as in transgender, transcendent, transgressing, transforming, taking a hold of where self meets other and using that playing field to carve out a future where self and selves agency is affirmed and encouraged to thrive.
to quote the coiner, Cavar: "a likewise-Otherwise politic of enminded transness. ... toward a neurotic, psychotic, and, yes, paranoid transness, a Madness Maddening gender (and attendant to the ongoing legacy of racialized, gendered Madness), and an approach to gender that is unapologetically non-compliant, naming medico-psychiatric trauma and narrating that violence with teeth, with resentment, and with familiarity" (source.)
the transMad queercrip
affirms the erotic power of bodyminds that trouble the assumption that the most important love is romantic, able, sexual, exclusive, heteronormative, and singular. The transMad queercrip is motivated by a politics of bio-psycho-spiritual-political euphoria, living not to accomplish but to be and become in all the ways our creativity brings us further into the world. This is a full-bodyminded approach to liberation which roots its power from the incomprehensible/resplendent imaginations, the uncomfortable/indulgent becomings, the discarded/insurrectionary intelligences and refused un/realities which form a perimeter around sane-able-acceptable being-for-the-sake-of-having.
1. We owe our discovery of this term outside alterhuman contexts to Robin Wall Kimmerer in her book Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants (link to IndieBound). For us this phrasing is fun to wrestle with as most of use do not identify as human, but see too commonly theories of humanity and alterhumanity that "dehumanize" or "de-person-ize" those that do not see themselves and/or are not seen as having the qualities of sentience, sapience, and/or anthropormic traits determined by and large by definitions of life which place humans above other forms of existence rather than entangled within them and deeply responsible for the consequences of our complex entanglement.
2. See our introduction, above: link.
3. This term, an offspring of Jasbir Puar's "homonationalism," was coined by David. T. Mitchell in his book The Biopolitics of Disability: Neoliberalism, Ablenationalism, and Peripheral Embodiment to describe the ways exceptionalising cripples for their disability reinforces the neoliberal drive to be "inclusive" at the cost of leaving behind those who must be left behind, consumed, in order to fuel nationalism (Mitchell, David. The Biopolitics of Disability: Neoliberalism, Ablenationalism, and Peripheral Embodiment (Corporealities: Discourses Of Disability). University of Michigan Press, 2018.link to IndieBound).
4. While writing specifically about the experiences of women, Audre Lorde on the erotic as power in a way exceedingly relevant to queercrip and transMad (trans)formations of living, loving, and relating regardless of specific gender identity: "We have been raised to fear the yes within ourselves, our deepest cravings. But, once recognized, those which do not enhance our future lose their power and can be altered. The fear of our desires keeps them suspect and indiscriminately powerful, for to suppress any truth is to give it strength beyond endurance. The fear that we cannot grow beyond whatever distortions we may find within ourselves keeps us docile and loyal and obedient, externally defined, and leads us to accept many facets of our oppression as women. ... In touch with the erotic, I become less willing to accept powerlessness, or those other supplied states of being which are not native to me, such as resignation, despair, self-effacement, depression, self-denial." (Lorde, Audre. Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic As Power. Crossing Pr, 1981. source)