There’s a series of videos on YouTube that depict a still image of a brown-haired woman in sunglasses against a black background. In the clips — which range from five to 35 minutes — a pink and translucent spiral swirls slowly in front of the woman, as her computerized voice narrates the viewer into a state of hypnosis. “Giving in more and more to drowsy blonde feelings,” she says, as a metronome ticks and a chorus of women moan faintly behind her. “Accepting every gentle suggestion with happy whimpers and sleepy little giggles, becoming a perfect Barbie — just another bubble-headed platinum blonde.”
The videos, created by erotic hypnosis site Bambi Sleep, aim to condition their mostly cishet male viewers into believing they’re a “sexy bimbo girl,” a process known as “feminization” or “sissification.” This is most commonly known as “sissy hypno,” a genre of porn in which men typically dress in makeup and hyper-feminized outfits, and are sexually submissive to any gender. Allegedly, this “hypnosis” can affect a person’s subconscious, effeminize them and turn them into a real-life “sissy.” It’s a fun kink or a way of exploring gender identity for most viewers, but for some, it’s a self-destructive “addiction” that takes months, or even years to recover from.
Among the latter group is 31-year-old Adrian (a pseudonym) from Peru, who’s a member of the the subreddit r/TGandSissyRecovery. With 11,000 members, it consists mostly of cisgendered straight guys who deem their love of feminization porn to be an obsession and a burden on their lives. As well as leading some to question their sexualities for the first time, many say their hypno habit harms their relationships and mental health and, in some cases, drains their bank accounts, as they spend an increasing amount of money on sissy clothes. This is the case for Adrian, who says that in the nine months since he got into feminization porn, he’s developed depression, a weed addiction and has almost broken up with his girlfriend.
Adrian got into sissy porn and, subsequently, cross-dressing after joining a video chat website “out of pure curiosity.” When he “did what everyone else was doing” — pointing the camera at their dick as they jerked themselves off — people kept ending their calls with him, but when he “acted more feminine,” they stayed tuned. When I ask what this means, Adrian explains that he “started showing [his] ass, doing a sexy dance and talking dirty to them ‘like [he was] a woman.’” “I’ve never received that kind of attention in my life from strangers,” he continues. “That’s when I was hooked.” From there, he started watching porn starring transgender women, before quickly moving onto sissy hypno.
Despite never having questioned his sexuality or gender identity before (Adrian considers himself a cis, heterosexual man), he says that after two weeks of watching feminization porn, he “fully believed” he was a trans woman, and came out as such to his girlfriend. “She immediately started crying,” he recalls. “She thought our very loving relationship was over.” However, after “a lot of soul-searching and research,” Adrian realized that he wasn’t trans, just “addicted to sissy porn.” He says his compulsive porn habits and “sissy urges” are “crippling,” sometimes resulting in him taking a mental health day from work. “All it takes is seeing a pretty pair of high heels at the store and your mind starts to drift,” he says. “There’s a familiar voice that talks to you: ‘Just do it, buy lingerie, leave your partner, be a sissy.’ These are the messages from the hypnos.” Adrian is now trying to quit watching porn altogether, which he says has been “absolute hell.”
Although she admits some people’s compulsive porn usage can have real, harmful effects, Jordan Dixon, a London-based clinical psychosexual and relationship psychologist, takes umbrage with the term “addiction” in this context. “Like ‘sex addiction,’ there’s no clinical evidence for the diagnosis of ‘porn addiction,’” she tells me, explaining that those who attempt to curb watching porn because they believe it’s bad for them often end up “feeling more shamed and depressed about themselves and their sexualities than before.” “For adults,” she continues, “pornography, like most things, can be a healthy behavior when well-integrated in the individual’s sex life, and it can also cause problems depending on how it’s used.”
She also adds that heterosexual men have always had a particular bent toward feminization and the porn that accompanies it. “Traditional masculinity is too prescriptive and narrow, with its values of power and wealth, alongside character traits of stoicism and efficiency,” she explains. “Feminization porn can potentially help inform and empower men to take charge of their own sexual lives.” Likewise, watching it doesn’t necessarily mean someone wants it to happen IRL — as pointed out by Arousr writer Femme Fatale on Quora, many “men who are sissies mostly enjoy the loss of control and playing a femme in role reversal, but do not actually want to be women, transition or be gay.”
Thus, Dixon says she worries that communities like r/TGandSissyRecovery are simply “perpetuating the forbidden” and inviting people to coin a new “deviant” label when there’s nothing really deviant about it. She also warns that those subscribing to the idea that their love of sissy porn is an addiction “are in danger of doing accidental ‘conversion therapy.’” “People struggling with their unwanted sexual behaviors actually need the opposite interventions,” she says. “Rather than staying focused on stopping the ‘symptoms,’ they need to be embraced as healthy sexual beings [ready] to face their erotic world.”
Adrian obviously doesn’t subscribe to this belief at all. To him, the goal of sissy hypno “is to literally consume you,” a concept that, while hot to some people, is not what he was looking for. He says it starts with porn addiction, then cross-dressing, “sleeping with other dudes,” and eventually, transitioning, “not because you’re trans, but because you think you’re a sissy.” “The fetish glamorizes self-destruction,” he concludes.
Of course, there are a few problems with categorizing any of those things as “self-destructive.” But when I ask Adrian if there are homophobic or transphobic undertones to his desire to “recover” from feminization, he insists there’s not. “I’m sure we’ve both read our fair share about men who’ve fallen into the same habit and want to quit,” he says. “Most of these stories have their rock bottom as losing your job, relationship or family for the fetish. No one hates the fact that they were dressing as a woman, they hate the fact that they were manipulated into it.” (It’s worth mentioning that those who watch sissy hypno typically choose to do so themselves, but for guys like Adrian who feel out of control, it can be easier to blame the porn than admit responsibility for what they watch.)
That said, Adrian does acknowledge that there are people in the feminization recovery community who are transphobic and “will use the sissy fetish as what they think a trans woman is.” That, or they’re trying to “recover” from their own gender dysmorphia — both of which trans people have previously criticized. Meanwhile, “gender-critical,” anti-porn feminist Genevieve Gluck and the transphobic YouTube channel Whose Body Is It have also tried to link sissy porn with the fetishization of women’s oppression, while Christian YouTubers have attemepted to frame feminization recovery as an escape from evil occult spirits and a return to god’s path.
Because of this, porn star Sissy Joyce, 28, who makes feminization porn, questions whether those seeking “recovery” from this kink are addicted to it or “just hate that they like it.” The Belgium-based creator has been making sissy porn for almost 10 years, after discovering BDSM, chastity and sissification with her first girlfriend. “I can relate [to people struggling with feminization],” Joyce tells me. “In the past, I had times where I hated myself for liking sissification. I even purged, throwing all [my] female clothes and sissy toys in the trash and promising to never do it again. But as soon as I decided to accept myself, and accept that what I’m doing is completely fine and not harming anyone, my life got so much better.”
The problem is, the members of the r/TGandSissyRecovery community do see sissification as harming someone — primarily themselves, but also their relationships. However, when some of them question whether this harm is coming from feminization porn and hypno itself, or is actually rooted in their own struggles with sexuality and gender identity, they’re often quickly shot down by others, who affirm that it is, in fact, the porn that’s “twisted [their] brain wiring.”
There’s no evidence that hypnosis porn — or hypnosis in general — does this, though. As professional hypnotist Neil the Erotic Hypnotist told MEL last year, it’s “extremely, extremely rare” that you can make someone respond to hypnotic suggestions without their consent. It’s also been confirmed by science that if someone doesn’t want to be hypnotized, it’s unlikely they can be at all (though someone will have to tell Steven Hassan, one of the world’s top experts on cults, as he seems to think he’s at risk of being sissified if he watches feminization porn for longer than a few seconds at a time).
Nonetheless, Adrian says feminization subreddits have been a “great source of help” to him, especially when he’s had no one else to turn to. “You can’t tell this to anyone,” he says of his real-life social circle. “How do I tell my friends and family that I’ve been cross-dressing for nine months, and can’t stop thinking about having sex with men even though I don’t like men? Communities like [r/TGandSissyRecovery] are a great resource to show you that you’re not alone.”