They Both Were Subs: D/s in the Trans Community
Please help us welcome our first blog contributor to Loving BDSM, Julie Knispel. She brilliantly writes on the topic of trans women in the BDSM community and in D/s relationships. She takes on stereotypes that people in and out of the trans community have about Dominance and submission and shares her personal perspective.
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There is, I think, an image that comes to mind when many people consider trans people involved in BDSM. It’s forged from mainstream porn, and consists of the imperious Domme standing over a sub, breaking them down until they finally submit to sex with said Domme.
It’s a lovely image to be sure…the image that launched a thousand fantasies.
It is also woefully incomplete.
To paraphrase Jane Austen, ‘It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single trans girl in possession of her subby nature, must be in want of a Domme.’
Domme Trans Women
D/s in the trans community is a nuanced, multifaceted creature. It’s bound by the fact that subs outnumber dommes by many factors. One could try and find deeper psychological or sociological reasons for this, but in the end, I doubt even that would be able to get to the core of the experience. The simple fact is that the imperious Domme exists, she’s the exception to the norm, and the fantasy is much less complex than the reality.
What’s more…if one is a switch, one finds that they end up being considered a Domme by default. The moment a switch says ‘You know, I’m feeling rather toppy today’ two dozen subs of all gender identities come flocking in looking for a spot.
Combine this with the seemingly mystical way in which relationships in the trans community seem to almost inevitably shift towards polycules rather than couples, and you end up with a Domme (who is likely more a switch) and a coterie of subs all vying for attention. You end up with one very exhausted Domme. And for a power exchange dynamic in which top drop and burnout can happen, they happen with unerring regularity.
Submissive Trans Women
There are many reasons I think a lot of trans women end up subs. I can only speak for myself, but for me, it really hinges on two things:
1) In the absence of ‘degradation,’ i.e., dirty talk, it gives us a dynamic in which we’re cared for by and allowed to care for our Domme. It creates an environment in which we are affirmed, needed, wanted, desired…things we rarely get in non play life. Aftercare becomes more than a needed thing in the power exchange. It becomes a rare example of being told we’re good, we matter, we’re important. For me, when Miss calls me a good girl, tells me she’s proud of me? It’s something I never got growing up. It’s everything my life has missed, and it makes me want to serve more.
2) In the presence of the previously mentioned dirty talk, it allows us a safe environment in which to find pride in our sexuality and our bodies. It allows us to reclaim ourselves from all the negativity that comes from living while trans. We live in a world in which women who claim ownership and agency of their sexuality are shamed for it. Where trans women not only deal with that but the weight that comes from being told that they are abominations. The opportunity to feel desired and cherished is one that is embraced with gusto.
Playing around in Domme/top space is a thing I am not at all comfortable with. I can speak from experience as I have tried in the interest of wanting to know if I had any switchy capability in me. While the tools are of course amazingly familiar to me, and I can use them with skill, the rest of the language is unknown and unknowable to me.
I can’t at all settle in and feel comfortable. It’s like tottering on a pair of stilts for the first time. You know you’re going to fall; it’s just a question of how soon and how spectacularly. Considering the involvement of another person in a scene, vs. being on stilts…well, tis best not. So I can’t personally talk about the experience with any knowledge.
In Their Own Words
That’s why I asked a friend of mine about her experiences as a trans woman who Dommes all the time. Here’s what she had to say:
“I spent a lot of years fighting Blanchard-ism before coming out.
So I spent a lot of time with that whole “I need to be into men to be Really Trans” thing and so I spent a lot of time joylessly attempting to be a subby bottom (though I really only ever accomplished faux-switch.
A lot of my issues getting stronger and more skilled is that I have to fight empathy, which got a lot stronger for me on E.
Like, “Sub X is having a bad day and I’d rather cuddle than tie her up and make her cry” stuff, even though tying her up and making her cry might actually help *her* more than the cuddles, but I’m fighting that vanilla-brain stuff.”
I also woke my Miss up out of a sound sleep this morning for Her input, which I already know I’ll end up feeling the repercussions from. She also happens to be a switch, and She raised a really valid point to me.
“I will say that being envious of one’s own sub is surreal, to say the least.”
And I can certainly see that, as She certainly deserves opportunities to explore and really dive into a submissive role, yet finds a lot of her time in Domme/top space. It’s a balancing act, She says, and one She has to be very careful with lest it exhaust Her.
Fortunately, in many ways the tide is changing as far as visibility of non-stereotypical portrayals of trans and non binary people in BDSM media. As more independent studios and collectives spring up, the widely diverse landscape of experiences are able to be shown. What’s more, many of these independents are focused on presenting more complete looks at fetish and dominance/submission in the trans community.
One need only look at Crash Pad, as one example of a larger collective. It does an amazing job showcasing far more than the ‘vanilla’ Domme trans woman topping a subby guy. Creator and performer led companies are doing the same by taking control of an image that was in many ways given them by companies sure they knew what a mostly cisgender and heterosexual audience wanted. The fact that these groups are not only surviving, but thriving, shows that there is a need for content showcasing the wide variety of experiences that D/s provides in the trans community.
You know, just like everywhere else.
About Julie Knispel
Julie has spent her life on the east coast, most frequently New Jersey, where she writes, plays bass, and advocates for the trans community, all whilst shitposting on Twitter. She’s also a very happily owned submissive. You can find her online at:
@XYcyberjulie on Twitter
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