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The video featuring people in dog costumes was taken during a "pup walk," which was part of a September fetish festival in Berlin. It was not a protest for people who identify as animals.
Puppy play is a role-playing fetish in which people dress up like dogs.
There is not a widespread "trans-species" movement for the rights of people to identify and live as animals.
Were people howling in the streets of Germany for (non)human rights?
A Sept. 24 viral video claimed that "hundreds of people, who identify as dogs, are currently protesting on the streets of Germany in support of ‘trans species rights.’"
This Instagram video was shared by conservative influencers and prompted stories making similar claims from outlets such as the New York Post and The Daily Mail. But this story is fabricated.
(Screenshot of Instagram post)
This post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
The gathering of people in dog costumes was not a protest for "trans-species rights." It was an event called a "puppy walk" which was part of Folsom Europe, a days-long fetish festival held annually in Berlin.
The walk was for those who engage in "puppy play," a role-playing fetish for people who dress up like dogs, typically in leather costumes. Those people do not identify as animals.
The gathering took place Sept. 8 outside of the Potsdamer Platz train station in Berlin, which can be seen in the background of the viral video. The Folsom Europe Facebook page shared a picture of the event that matches several features of the video shared on Instagram, including the flag on the right side and several distinct costumes.
Folsom Europe did not respond to a request for comment.
The term "trans-species" is used in academia including a field of psychology that seeks to show the commonalities between human and animal cognition, and in genetics research with the term "trans-species polymorphism."
PolitiFact could find no evidence of an organized "trans-species" movement for the right of people to identify as animals. This is not the first instance where people have tried to conflate transgender identities with animals. In 2022, PolitiFact rated Pants on Fire a viral claim that schools were installing litter boxes for students who identify as furries.
We rate the claim that this video shows a "trans species rights" protest False.
New York Post, "Hundreds of people who identify as dogs gather in city center: ‘Call animal control’," Sept. 19, 2023
Daily Mail, "Are they barking mad? Hundreds of people who identify as DOGS gather to bark and howl at each other in Germany," Sept. 21, 2023
Folsom Europe, accessed October 9, 2023
HuffPost, "Get a glimpse into the world of puppy play," Oct. 2, 2016
Lesley University, "Inside the animal mind with Gay Bradshaw," accessed Oct. 9, 2023
Communicative & Integrative Biology, "Trans-species polymorphism, HLA-disease associations and the evolution of the MHC," Sept. 2009
PolitiFact, "Claim about schools providing litter boxes for students debunked in several states," April 8, 2022
The Associated Press, "Video shows fetish festival attendees, not ‘trans species’ rights protestors," Oct. 3, 2023
Puppy Germany, "Home page," accessed Oct. 9, 2023
Email interview with spokesperson at Puppy Germany, Oct. 3, 2023
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