Have You Ever Wanted to Reinvent Yourself?
As a kid I remember wanting to be Wonder Woman, my brother thought he was Zorro and my best friend wanted to be a cat. As an adult, I have friends who are men and they identify as women, some experience Gender Dysphoria while others may have Gender Nonconformity. Both involve the need or desire to transform themselves, they yearn to be the gender they feel they are inside and they want to transform and reinvent themselves completely. The list goes on because at one point in all of our lives – even for the briefest moment – something inside of all of us yearns to be something or someone else.
Looking for Happily Ever After
If you’re wondering how far back this idea of transformation might go, you can look back to the Early Dynastic Period (c. 3100–2686 BC) in Egypt where deities such as Anubis (depicted as a canine head on a man’s body), Set (depicted by a jackal head on a man’s body) and Horus (depicted as a falcon’s head on a man’s body) began to appear in their writings known as hieroglyphics, showing what is thought to be the beginning of their prehistoric religious beliefs, as seen in iconography from that time. All three are examples of traits found in animals that humans were drawn to and expressed visually by creating half man/half beast figures to worship.
From Egypt to India, where you could and still can find Ganesha (depicted as an elephant head on a human body) being worshipped, there has always been a keen interest in combining an animal with a human in some shape or form. Fairy tales are no exception either, millions of children were raised on stories about transformations from poor to rich or as in the 1889 story by Paul Friedrich Meyerheim, “The Frog Prince” which brought readers the transformation of a frog into a Prince with a kiss. Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” in 1897 brought horror and romance to being bitten by a vampire and turned into the eternal undead. Everything from werewolves to people turning in statues by looking at Medusa, transformations have been the thrilling climax of many stories. History has shown that there has always been some mystery and mystique about being able to transform yourself so with this fetish maybe you can finally have your happily ever after too!
Fantasy, Fetish… or Both
If you ask someone with a Transformation Fetish (TF) what it is, you’ll get a myriad of answers. It’s different for everyone, but one thing is certain, anyone with this fetish longs to transform themselves or be transformed by someone or something else. Many of the fantasy aspects of TF have been included in movies and books too. People also take part in the fantasy by dressing in costumes and even going to conventions where other like minded people can share in the experience together. Conventions are also where you can dress up and morph/transform into whatever you want to truly be, at least for a few days at events like BronyCon, where men (of all ages) and women too, who are fans of My Little Pony, can come together and celebrate in the glory of all things pony by dressing up as their favorite character from the show.
Then there’s ANTHROCON, which got its name from the term anthropomorphic or “humanized” animals. The events website says, “Only within the last two decades has anthropomorphic or “Furry” fandom been recognized as a distinct fan-base in its own right. Fans are found in all corners of the world, and come from all races and ages and creeds. We are bound together across the most daunting barriers by our mutual admiration for these beasts of myth and legend who, by simple reflection, give us a better window into ourselves.” They continue describing what they call Furry Fandom as “…an artistic and literary genre that is practiced and enjoyed by tens of thousands worldwide. We count among our ranks professional sports mascots, animators, cartoonists, puppeteers, artists, illustrators, and writers, as well as those who simply think that it would be a wonderful thing if animals could walk or talk like we do.” So, is TF a fantasy or a fetish… or both? Delving deeper into this question is Dr. Mark Griffiths, who explains many of the sub-genres within TF in this fantastic piece below – enjoy!
Ch-ch-changes: The Weird World of Transformation Fetishes
By, Dr. Mark Griffiths
While researching some other articles on my blog – most notably those on the furries (sexual pleasure from dressing up as an animal and having sex with others dressed up as an animal), technofetishism (sexual pleasure and arousal arising from humanoid or non-humanoid robots), macrophilia (i.e., sexual arousal from a fascination with giants and/or a sexual fantasy involving giants), and agalmatophilia (sexual arousal from an attraction to statues, dolls, mannequins and/or other similar body shaped objects) – I constantly came across various references to ‘transformation fetish’ (TF). Basically, a transformation fetish is a form of sexual fetishism in which an individual derives sexual arousal from descriptions about (and depictions of) transformations (usually of people being transformed into other beings or objects).
The internet has a very active TF community, although some “TF fans” (as they seem to like being called) have no sexual interest as such but take an active interest in ‘transformation art’ and ‘transformation fiction’. After looking at the posts on such sites, there doesn’t seem to be any distinction between fetish and non-fetish fiction but some members of the online TF community are far more sexually orientated in their postings. For instance, one website I checked out was set up to house fetish inspired work comprising “stories, drawings, renderings, and photo-manipulations depicting many transformation fetishes. These fetishes include, but are not limited to: Transformation into toys, latex/rubber, spandex, balloon, zentai, clowns, toons, mannequins, robots, and statues”.
In his 2009 book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices, Dr Anil Aggrawal (Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi, India) notes that TF can include:
“Examples are animal transformation, fantasies, and doll fetish. The former include fantasies in which human beings change to animals, or behave as animals (e.g., lycanthropy, vampires). Animal transformation fantasies are popular among those who participate in pony play. Doll fetish is a transformation fetish of being transformed into a doll or transforming someone else into a doll. It is often played out as role-play between two or more people. One partner – often the female – is dressed to look like a Barbie doll in shape with bold hair, enhanced breasts small waist, high heels, and a very revealing outfit made from rubber, latex or spandex”.
The posts I have read on various TF websites indicate that the transformations typically involve a human (that can be either gender, but seem to more often involve females) being transformed into some other form. For instance, check out the stories at the Experience Project or the Fetish Transformation website.
I was interested in how the transformation takes place and there appears to be a lot of thought into how it happens. This might involve having fantasy sex in ritualistic ways with specific people, and/or certain creatures (in fact it is common for TF fans to report transforming into the creature they have had sex with). Other non-sexual ways that people can transform include magic spells, curses, viruses, and strange chemicals. In fact, one TF site provided an innovative list of how the transformation can manifest itself. This included:
- TFs caused by entering a cursed location
- TFs by injection
- TFs by bite or attack
- TFs from touch (whenever someone is touched by something the person start to turn into them – known as the “TF virus”)
- Inanimate TFs (e.g., transformations into statues)
- Second Skin TFs (e.g., where a person picks up a semi-sentient blob that soon covers their body, changing them into something else)
- Costume TFs (where the person gets trapped in a suit that soon begins to tighten and become their new body)
- Body alteration TFs (such as only growing fur, having only a face change)
I also read that the transformations are typically non-consensual, with “the transformer often becoming confused, scared, or angry as the changes take place, although some transformations are gladly accepted and even chosen by their victims”.
The most common form of TF appears to be transformation from humans into animals (but I’m only basing that on the number of websites that seem to cater for animal TF compared to other types of TF). As I mentioned in my previous blog on the furry fandom, the most common transformations are from humans to mammals (e.g., dogs, horses, cattle), and less common to other types of animal (e.g., birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles). The primary focus of role-play is often the “voluntary or involuntary reduction” (i.e., transformation) of humans to the status of an animal, and “focus on the altered mind-space created”. For instance, I came across this interesting quote from a TF fan:
“I don’t identify at all with the ‘furry’ thing. I mean, no offense to those of you that do. I think the main difference with my animal-TF interests is that I don’t really identify with any particular animal or animals. For me, it’s merely a curiosity about [a particular] form would physically feel like. And in some cases, there’s even a slight element of humiliation at no longer being ‘entirely human’ which is the only element of the TF that has a possibly erotic element. I’ll say ‘transformation fetish’ but in actuality, transformation alone is mostly just a fascination for me that’s non-sexual in nature. It’s when some element of control (whether being controlled, or just fighting against the changes to one’s body or impulses) and/or some slight humiliation that it becomes erotic. In fact, I’ve noticed one common theme in all the transformation scenes in various shows or movies that have caught my attention growing up. It’s that the scene typically focuses on the character’s reaction which is often a sense of ‘my own body is betraying me!’”
TF websites contain many examples of “conversion” across both animal type and developmental stages. Common conversions include felines (kittens, cats, lions, tigers), canines (puppies, dogs, foxes, wolves), and equines (foals, ponies, horses). However, many are depicted as half-human, half-animal hybrids, with the appealing characteristics of both highlighted. As one TF fansite asserted:
“Furries are usually bipedal and have the ability to speak, walk, talk, and think like a normal human. Many in the TF community, even those with an interest in TFs other than animal, adopt a made-up identity as a furry, known as a fursona. It should be noted that like the TF community not all Furries are involved with the fetish aspects of anthropomorphic media. There are some large differences between the communities”.
Another type of TF is common among ‘technosexuals’ (i.e., robot fetishists). A common fantasy among such people involves transformation into a robot. Some have argued this is most similar to agalmatophilia (i.e., attraction to or transformation into statues or mannequins) and in this sense could be viewed as a form of erotic anthropomorphism.
Looking at TF across the whole sexual fetish spectrum, some would argue that there are many different core types of transformation including transforming into inanimate everyday objects, transforming into other humanoid-looking forms (e.g., statues, dolls, robots), transforming into other living things (e.g., animals, animal hybrids, alien life forms), transforming into different and/or extend versions of the self in either fantasy (e.g., becoming a giant, the body aging years in just a few seconds) or reality (e.g., via body modification and/or gender reassignment sex changes).
Finally, in 1989, Dr. Ray Blanchard introduced the concept of autogynephilia, which refers to ‘‘a male’s propensity to be sexually aroused by the thought of himself as a female’’. This formed the basis of Blanchard’s hypothesis that there are two distinct manifestations of male-to-female transsexualism (i.e., homosexual and autogynephilic). It could also be argued that such thinking may be akin to transformation fetishes.
Dr Mark Griffiths – BSc, PhD, CPsychol, PGDipHE, FBPsS, FRSA
Dr. Griffiths is a Chartered Psychologist and Professor at the Nottingham Trent University
For more of his research and writing, please visit: https://drmarkgriffiths.wordpress.com/category/sex/
For more Transformation Fetish art by Grumpy-TS, please visit: https://grumpy-tg.deviantart.com