This essay uses words related to plurality. Daemonism is referenced.

Plurality is the state of being other than one-body-one-person. A system is a group of people/entities sharing a body. A multiple system is a system where people sharing a body are distinct. A median system is a system where system members share a central identity or otherwise overlap with each other. In this essay, system members are referred to as residents or simply as people. “Fronting” as a general term means to control the body. A headspace is a space where system members interact with each other. “The front” or a “fronting area” is generally a place in a headspace that system members can front from.

A daemon is a personification of the “other half” of someone’s mental dialogue and is usually thought of as taking an animal form based on the person’s personality. Daemonism is the practice of communicating with one’s daemon.

Our Relation to “Multiple” and “Median”

We have discovered more about Front and its gateway properties since writing this essay. Some of the information here is outdated.

Our history with the words “multiple” and “median” started with the frontstuck resident discovering the system. Many other people were not able to front and instead only used passive influence. There was an initial assumption by the frontstuck resident that people only being able to act through one resident meant that we were a median system. However, the discovery of more residents came with finding amnesiac barriers and residents who were much more separate than the newest arrivals. As people were given more room and communication throughout the system improved, we as a group decided to identify as a gateway multiple system. Residents had more internal personal space and an easier time cooperating because we felt that our individual identities were respected. Eventually, we closed the gate to stabilize our headcount and stopped identifying as a gateway system. The term “multiple,” however, stuck. For, years we didn’t consider our relation to the term “median” again because of the negative associations some of us had with the use of the term in this system. Due to recent changes in our system’s structure and our understanding of fronting, we believe that it’s time to revisit the concept.

Identifying as multiple has always been the decision that comes the easiest to us as a system based on our interactions with each other. We are capable of having separate memories and we consider ourselves very internally distinct from one another. Different people can process information separately. At times, we are able to remember things differently after experiencing it together. Reaching some residents can be difficult even on a day-to-day basis and people are often unaware of time passing while they aren’t at front because of separation between people. While the gate was open, individuals were able to walk in and out of the system at any time without affecting others. All of these people had their own memories and identity that other people couldn’t reach. When we interact in the headspace, we don’t overlap with each other in any way we consider significant enough to say we share personal identity. As we get closer to front, that structure shifts tremendously.

The fact that residents who step into front don’t share the identity of the frontstuck resident while fronting hasn’t changed. However, since a small group of near-permanently co-conscious residents have been able to front more we’ve noticed that we share identity in other ways. Staying at front for long periods of time or controlling the body fluidly with others requires stepping into a singular identity that doesn’t belong to any specific person we know of. This identity includes feelings of gender and species that correlate with some common traits of residents but feels overwhelmingly hollow by itself. Actions done in this fluid front are done by a near-singular entity that is most naturally referred to with “I” and there is no line between who does what. We still have individual internal voices we can use to communicate while fronting, but automatic thoughts in reaction to front don’t belong to anyone and actions done through the body are done almost solely with the Front’s identity. Identifying which behaviors came from who is only really possible in retrospect. Whether or not it would be useful to consider ourselves median or median-adjacent when the majority of us are rarely close enough to Front to ever be affected by it is unclear, since median is a very loosely defined term in the first place. More consideration of exactly how this works for us is needed to decide how accurate identifying as either “multiple” or “median” is for us.

Many questions about how our system is structured can be answered by observing our headspace. It can be changed intentionally while also developing by itself over time as a natural side-effect of events in our life. Front used to be a blend between the central meeting area and wherever the frontstuck resident was. The link between fronting and being in the meeting area broke down when forms of long-distance communication emerged for convenience. People found that they were able to front by adding their thoughts directly to what was being given to the body without having to physically be near the frontstuck resident or an area associated with fronting. Since few people are around front often, this wasn’t discovered until a group of frontrunners emerged. During frequent communication they noticed that fronting together pulled them towards a new place. This area is called the (capitalized) Front to distinguish it from “front” as in any controlling of the body or place the body can be controlled from. It shares some characteristics with the headspace but has many obvious differences.

The Front is a large, most likely either infinite or looping, space of pure white. Objects in it tend to fade away so that it stays empty aside from whoever is in it. The floor is visually featureless but feels reminiscent of clouds and residents can jump through it to fully leave Front. It is disconnected from the headspace to the point where people can be in Front and in the headspace at the same time. Some people have been noticed entering the Front while being dormant or otherwise unreachable in the headspace. People in the headspace and Front at the same time tend to detach themselves from the headspace the more they lose focus on exactly where they are. It is possible for someone to front directly from the headspace to control the body as an individual but if they lose their focus they drift into Front with other people who were already in it. Attempting to front without touching Front feels foggy, as if it requires reaching through or against it. Fronting from the headspace quickly gives us headaches but people stepping in and out of Front causes much less strain. We aren’t sure how long the Front has been here but the feeling of blending to front being easier than fronting individually is something we’ve known about for a long time. The effects this has on identity are more recent findings.

As expected, this Front is connected to the shared identity that people have while fronting as one. Beginning to take on this identity correlates with drifting into Front. Thinking about personal identity or individual experiences pulls people out of Front. When people are completely focused on fronting as one, the visuals of Front fade away entirely and residents are only their voices. This central identity is peculiar because it doesn’t feel like residents themselves blend into it. It isn’t affected by the identities of the residents in Front although residents may be influenced by each other. Traits such as interests and abilities can easily be shared through passive influence. Daemons, which are linked to specific people and present themselves through their daemian in the headspace, cannot be shared at all. The blending that occurs in Front is a step removed from blending people. Rather, it feels like some parts of their identity are being “spoken over” by something that they contribute their thoughts to instead of giving their thoughts to themselves. The action of fronting can be capitalized to describe this partially-blended state that people are immersed in when they are completely in Front. While Fronting, residents temporarily forget their own “core” and can identify each other by voice but don’t feel distinct. They may not remember that they are separate until it’s deliberately thought of again to step out of Front.

This kind of blending is difficult to connect to a common label. It could possibly be described as both “multiple” and “median” depending on what perspective it’s viewed with. Residents don’t overlap with each other as people when Fronting. Few people Front, so the feeling of blending isn’t something everyone feels. We generally define ourselves by internal structures rather than external interactions because of who we are as people, so the separation between people stands out more. On the other hand, the fact that residents don’t technically overlap with each other doesn’t seem as important when Fronting inherently takes away awareness of being a distinct individual. There is a strong feeling of overlap regardless of whether it’s physically happening in the headspace. Since people are drawn closer to Front as they gain consciousness and become closer to being co-conscious with people in Front, the reason that most people aren’t affected by Front’s blending is that they are rarely awake at all. It could be argued that dormant residents don’t make up the bulk of the system’s structure because of the lack of activity in that area. Acting as one entity is how we as a system live day-to-day. At this point, what term we use comes down to what is most useful for describing how we function.

Individual residents use personal terms at their own discretion, but as a system we generally try to keep our self-description concise. Looking back on our findings and what we’ve read from other people we believe overall that we relate to both median and multiple experiences. Choosing one term over the other isn’t the best way of describing what kinds of spaces we may fit into. While “median” is the more broad term, the fact that we as individual residents can go from extreme blending to extreme distinction makes both sides significant to how our system is structured overall. Our conclusion is that the umbrella term “plural” encompasses our experiences better than a more specific label does, and that another way of defining how we think of ourselves as individuals may describe our structure better. Throughout the entire process of someone entering the system and going through the range of dormancy to complete Fronting, it has been noted that mobility is a large part of the experience. Even though the gate that people entered the system through to become residents has been closed, our system’s structure depends on movement from place to place. People are distinguished by where they came from, what identity they got from that place and what memories they have of it both in the move from an outside world to our system and in the move from headspace to Front. Even during complete Fronting, voices can be told apart by the quirks from peoples’ backgrounds. Despite not all of us being walk-ins, the distinct identity that walk-ins have defines the “template” of what identity we all have. The baseline amount of distinction between us is connected to this kind of identity, which is a more deeply rooted structure for us than where we fall relative to multiple and median. This is why we have decided to use “gateway plural system” to describe ourselves.

References
Multiples article on KinHost
Median Systems article on KinHost
Multiple definition/article on Pluralpedia
Median definition/article on Pluralpedia
Pavilion Hall and the Creation of the Term “Median” by LB Lee
MidContinuum by Vicki(s)
Becoming Median booklet by the Zyfron System
What is the Self? by mordecai