Image Description: Bright pink glossy lips peek out through a hole in baby pink paper. Credit: Ian Dooley/Unsplash
I recently received the following message into my DMs on Twitter:
Image Text: I'm a trans woman who is trying to get into sissy play. I've been pretty closeted about it, and feel a lot of shame for wanting to get into sissy play. I followed you because it was awesome to find a trans woman whose into sissy play and into topping. I was wondering if you have any advice for trans women who want to explore this kink further but feel inhibited because of shame. I realize that there's, of course, nothing to feel shame about it, but emotionally, it's different and prevents me from asking for things I want, intimately. Im sure you get a lot of messages, so I apologize if this is something you get a lot of.
I receive messages like this from time to time. Forced feminization fetish is actually very common among trans women, so the first thing I usually say is, "you're not alone."
Forced feminization and sissy play are a type of play that's very much based specifically on shame. I say shame, instead of humiliation or embarrassment because it's a type of humiliation that gets to the core of our being.
A lot humiliation play is based on embarrassment, which is feeling bad about something we've done. A domme saying, "did you cum without permission?" or making you wear a diaper and wet yourself are mostly made to feel humiliated as a result of your actions.
Unlike embarassment, shame based play makes you feel humiliated because of something you are. The types of play that fall into this category are often rooted in historical oppression or stigma. Shame play can often be misogynist, racist, homophobic or transphobic, which I would say makes it a form of edgeplay. You're playing with oppression, with an extremely dangerous tool that can cause significant damage as well as draw the ire of other people in the kink community. Like other types of edgeplay; cutting or blood drinking for example, this type of play is often also banned in our play spaces, if not explicitly then by unspoken social contract. I feel like that unspoken social contract can be one of the axis on which trans people approach sissy fetish cautiously.
Implements of edgeplay; knives, singletails, blood cups and needles can be used mostly safely though, assuming that you have the experience to wield the tool. When shame and historical oppression are the tools we want to play with, we need to be more specific and understand the precise type of oppression we're playing with. What specific oppression does forced feminization play with? Most dommes would say misogyny, and that's why they wouldn't touch it. It does make a mockery of femininity and when done with men, the type of humiliation they're feeling is the shame of being made into a woman, being made something society values as "lesser."
The diagnosis of misogyny is easy to understand, but it just slightly misses the mark. If we were doing sissy play on a cisgender woman, giving her the gawdy makeup, bright wig, huge falsies and latex maid outfit, we would certainly be playing with misogyny. That type of play is called dollification or bimbo fetish, which is actually more acceptable in the kink community, as well as being something that more dommes are willing to play with, however when we do forced feminization we're usually playing with men (cisgender or trans) or people assigned male at birth, which makes the dynamic slightly different.
The word we use for the oppression felt by people society sees as men when they try to act feminine is called transmisogyny. It's the specific type of oppression we wield when we play with forced feminization. As kinksters, when we play with a tool we're unfamiliar with, we can feel uncomfortable or nervous. When a sub hands us an edgeplay tool we're unfamiliar with and asks us to use it on them, we usually safeword the fuck out. I feel like this is why so many cisgender dommes are uncomfortable with forced feminization, because it's a tool they're unfamiliar with, transmisogyny, even though at first glance it resembles a tool they know well, misogyny.
As trans women, we're steeped in transmisogyny our entire lives We know the damage it can cause, and we can learn to use it in ways that can be thrilling. This is a tool of oppression, shame and stigma that's been wielded against us countless times. By embracing sissy play, as a top or a bottom, you can process or perhaps even take control of that trauma and oppression, even if it's just for an hour in a dungeon. Transmisogyny becomes a tool you can wield, it becomes something that provides joy and titillation instead of pain.
Of course, not everyone wants to reclaim their oppression and that's perfectly valid as well. Nobody should be forced to handle or process their trauma for the amusement of others, so it's a good idea to negotiate this type of play in advance with not just your partner, but for more intense scenes, with witnesses as well.
As trans women, we can feel conflicted about our desires to play with our oppression and our desires (and society's desires) to leave it alone and treat it with contempt. It's not a choice I can make for you, but perhaps breaking down why it makes us uncomfortable can help you decide whether to pick that tool up, or leave it hanging on the wall.
Sissy play belongs to trans women and transfeminine folk, and if you want to use it, use it. If you want to have it used on you, find yourself a trans woman forced feminization top who knows how to use it.
For further reading on this topic, check out my article Embracing the Sissy.