Let's Play Master and Servant

Hey, you. Boy. Come in here, boy. ::resting a hand lightly on my shiny leather knee:: Come over here and answer me this:

What draws so many trannyboyz to the land of BDSM?

We're not exactly a vanilla community. I notice an awful lot of trannyboy erotica centered in S/M or bondage and roleplaying, and the FTM mailing lists I read slide frequently into flirt-a-thons with public topping and age-regressing roleplaying. I've read straight, lesbian, bisexual, and some gay male erotica, and I've never seen anything quite like this. Yeah, I think it's a tranny thing.

There's a lot in BDSM to appeal to trannies. For example:

* You Get To Be a Boy.

Where else except BDSM, theatre, and RPGs can you take part in fabulous little scenes that let you be whatever gender and sex you want? And in sexual roleplaying, you aren't just any old character: you're playing yourself, maybe for the first time. (Plus, you get to have sex. I mean, my god!) You're playing with someone who believes and understands your gender identity, and even better, it REALLY turns them on. You get to explore all the things you could be and could want, without having to think about conforming to anyone else's sexist rules.

During sex play, lots of people enter a special psychological or even spiritual space, particularly if they're experiencing a huge endorphin rush. Even without the rush, the intensity of mutally creating a sexually charged roleplay, of letting go or taking on new power, or just of the sheer physical experience, can provide a strong space in which to be exactly the gender you need, or to forget all that gender stuff entirely. It's an amazing opportunity for trannies to experience a complete passing experience through this intense energy they're creating.

* You Get Control and Respect

First of all, there's the chance to have physical control over your body. You can focus on whether your ass can take one more whipping instead of whether others will think you've flattened your chest far enough. You can focus just on a favorite part of your body, or on the sensations you're experiencing, instead of on your usual physical issues.

From either standpoint, BDSM offers total respect from your partner(s). Where else can you find a situation where complete mutual trust and respect are supposed to be automatically written into the equation? Lots of transboys have tons of issues about sex. We worry about our partners touching parts of our bodies we can't stand, we worry about how they perceive our gender, we worry about whether what we and our partners are each willing and able to do is going to add up to happy fun sexual intercourse. Even if we have good sex normally, we may still have lots and lots of things we wish we could do for which our bodies are just too female, or which we're afraid to ask our partners for. It gives us permission to tell our partners "please, play with my nipples and pretend I have a boychest," or "um, could you pretend you're Scott Evil and I'm a cute fag cruising you in a club and then you take me home and torment me with daddy's evil implements of badness, but don't hit me or anything because it really freaks me out?" Part of the "safe, sane, and consensual" tenet of BDSM is that these sorts of things are usually discussed beforehand and respected by our partners, giving us a whole new level of control over our sexuality.

* The Possibility of Catharsis

One of my current fanstasies involves doing a scene where I get to be tied up and --

You know what? Maybe that's too personal. But that's the cool thing: in a well-planned scene, you can choose to include very personal issues and use the safety of your sexual relationship to play them out. It takes a lot of bravery and trust, but some people use BDSM scenes as a way to deal with past physical and other abuse, gender dysphoria, issues of personal power, and other painful parts of their lives. These same issues can form strong barriers which interfere with part or all of your sex life, so the catharsis that comes from using sex to face and overcome them is very powerful.

*It's Fun

Nobody really needs a reason beyond the fact that bondage, domination, submission, roleplaying, sadism, and masochism are fun. Different people are turned on by different things, but it seems to me that there's something in that mix for almost everybody. Even vanilla sex often includes an element of fantasy or gentle pain. We face a lot of often physical pain, and a lot of power-over in our mundane lives; it can be really cool to reclaim that and turn it into our own pleasure.

As transgendered folks, we have a few qualities that make us naturals at the BDSM thing. One is that we are already a marginalized community. We're wallowing in the muck with the other queers, the bi folks and the polyamorists and the leatherfolk and the tantric straights and the saucy gays and the strong dykes, and all the rest of them, so all of our neighboring cultures are more accessible to us than to, say, someone who grew up without questioning the basic sexual and gender roles they learned from school, family, and media. Ideas about three-person relationships or fetishwear are less foreign to us than usual, so we have more opportunity to explore them.

The other element of tranny life that makes BDSM ours is that we already play with boundaries every day. We know what it's like to be in a liminal state, between genders, bending things that aren't supposed to be bent. We're well-prepared to tweak and melt the boundaries between pain and pleasure and turn them into our own special erotic tools.