Ch-ch-changes: The weird world of transformation fetishes

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, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

Aggrawal A. (2009). Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices. Boca Raton: CRC Press.

Blanchard, R. (1989). The concept of autogynephilia and the typology of male gender dysphoria. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 177, 616-623.

Holliday, K. (2011). Jimbo explains his transformation fetish. The Beautiful Kind, May 17. Located at:

Pollack, N. (2004). Wonderlust: My transformation fetish. Nerve, April 21. Located at:

About drmarkgriffiths

Professor MARK GRIFFITHS, BSc, PhD, CPsychol, PGDipHE, FBPsS, FRSA, AcSS. Dr. Mark Griffiths is a Chartered Psychologist and Distinguished Professor of Behavioural Addiction at the Nottingham Trent University, and Director of the International Gaming Research Unit. He is internationally known for his work into gambling and gaming addictions and has won many awards including the American 1994 John Rosecrance Research Prize for “outstanding scholarly contributions to the field of gambling research”, the 1998 European CELEJ Prize for best paper on gambling, the 2003 Canadian International Excellence Award for “outstanding contributions to the prevention of problem gambling and the practice of responsible gambling” and a North American 2006 Lifetime Achievement Award For Contributions To The Field Of Youth Gambling “in recognition of his dedication, leadership, and pioneering contributions to the field of youth gambling”. In 2013, he was given the Lifetime Research Award from the US National Council on Problem Gambling. He has published over 800 research papers, five books, over 150 book chapters, and over 1500 other articles. He has served on numerous national and international committees (e.g. BPS Council, BPS Social Psychology Section, Society for the Study of Gambling, Gamblers Anonymous General Services Board, National Council on Gambling etc.) and is a former National Chair of Gamcare. He also does a lot of freelance journalism and has appeared on over 3500 radio and television programmes since 1988. In 2004 he was awarded the Joseph Lister Prize for Social Sciences by the British Association for the Advancement of Science for being one of the UK’s “outstanding scientific communicators”. His awards also include the 2006 Excellence in the Teaching of Psychology Award by the British Psychological Society and the British Psychological Society Fellowship Award for “exceptional contributions to psychology”.

Posted on June 22, 2012, in Case Studies, Obsession, Paraphilia, Psychology, Sex, Sex addiction and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 27 Comments.

  1. Hey there! Thanks for linking back to my site. I wanted to share this video podcast with you so you can see and hear dear Jimbo discuss his unusual fetish. He’s so charming with how earnestly he worships his Goddess!
    We’re fortunate to have a TF guy here in St. Louis who is out about it and happy to discuss. Plus, he throws a mean bubble wrap party. 🙂

  2. Thank you so much for covering this fetish! Before I stumbled onto the online community of TF fans I honestly thought I was weird and alone having this fetish. It is nice to know that people like you and Kendra Holiday are covering fringe fetishes.

  3. If you want to explore further transformations, try searching for Legends of Belial.

  4. Hey Dr. Mark Griffiths,
    Interesting article on transformation fetishes. I have a question regarding another possible name for such fetishes. Could this fetish also be called metamorphophilia? (metamorphilia) Not sure the correct spelling, I’ve seen it spelled both ways.

  5. Interesting look at TF. It seems that after realizing that the internet allowed all sorts of oddballs to connect that I found my own group. I have spent some time trying to analyze my own reasons for being attracted to TF (mainly human to dog) and have never definitively uncovered a core reason but I do think there is an aspect of submissiveness w/o really being submissive. I relate to the idea that it is my own body and mind I would be at war with and also that the change/humiliation/reduction in status would be ‘forced’ but not necessarily malevolently. My fantasies (rarely shared) have always revolved around wife, GF, female friends, female co-workers, neighbors never related to a dominatrix archetype. More the idea that any woman would end up completing my transformation because it would simply be easier to finalize than to maintain in a human/animal/pet gray area. I would end up becoming a pet to her while holding out hopes of my own for some type of carnal contact. denied of course, but never in a mean way simply as a fact of the way things now are.

    Feel free to contact if anything interests you in deeper probing.

  6. I just want to clear something up about how you described the furry fandom as ‘people who like to dress up as animals and have sex with others dressed as animals’. This is simply NOT true at all and I’m wondering how you got to that strange conclusion. There are plenty of people in the furry community who have no interest in fursuits or costuming at all. Depending on the person, they may or may not have a sexual interest in furry art or fiction.

    • Thanks for your comment. My article is purely based on the scientific published papers and articles that I cited in my blog. If what I have written is not correct then you need to contact the paper authors. For this particular blog, I actually got Dr Kathy Gerbasi (arguably the academic community’s foremost expert on furries) to read through and check through my blog before posting (as I had referenced her work extensively and didn’t want to misquote her or misrepresent her work). Don’t shoot the messenger! Best wishes. Mark

  7. One huge, huge site you might not have seen is (Choose Your Own Change). It covers the whole TF spectrum, inanimate objects to animals to other humans to even weirder stuff.

    My personal niche is human-to-human transformations – the same mechanisms (costumes, viruses, curses), but turning one sort of person to a different sort, like you mention at the end. Both physical and mental changes, changing social class or age or personality or ethnicity or stereotypes (a geek forcibly turned into a jock), or muscle growth things. Those kind of communities do have a different tone to them, but most do overlap some with furries and technophiles.

    A couple other interesting sites to check out:

  8. Thanks for this post. I would be interested to know if there are any studies that explain why some children are so strongly drawn to these transformation fantasies. I remember frequently being aroused as a VERY small boy by Disney movies like “The Shaggy Dog” and “Honey I Shrunk the Kids”. But turning into a dog or shrinking–I went through extremely intense phases of fantasizing about both–were impossible. But then another Disney transformation movie came out…

    I entered adolescence and discovered self-pleasure around the time the Disney movie “the Santa Clause” came out. Images and fantasies from which, of course, became very closely connected to sexual release–it became porn for me, in other words. This idea of waking up one morning and having an enormous belly and beard, looking in the mirror in shock and disbelief, being “trapped” in this body, was a huge thrill to me. My parents were separated at that time and I was also looking for some sort of “masculine” to attach to. I became increasingly drawn to strong, masculine men with big stomachs (we were living in the Frozen North at the time–no shortage there) and became obsessed with someday making my skinny body grow a big gut and wearing a permanent beard, just like in the movie. Now in my 30s, I left a successful moding career and both of these things have come to pass.

    Because I know this “real life transformation” is based entirely on an adolescent’s masturbation fantasy, (with no serious regard for health or the long term consequences of gaining 60 pounds) I experience a lot of anguish over what I’ve done to myself. I want to embrace it, to let myself be comfortable with accepting myself spending the rest of my life in this new “form”. But in moments of extreme honesty, I can’t celebrate the actualization of this fantasy. I can’t seem to accept it as legitimate and real, even though I tell myself that it is. I’m still that skinny teenager on the inside, no matter how big my stomach gets.

    I want to do the “*right*” thing and put this fantasy to rest, but the sexual component is so strong after years and years of reinforcement, I look at my current “Santa Claused” reflection in the mirror and find myself becoming aroused and ready to binge on donuts and cake. The diets I’ve been on, as I’ve considered old photos of me poolside with six-pack abs, I’ve eventually intentionally sabotaged over and over again.

    I know there are those here who celebrate their transformation fantasies, and that’s fine–but then there are those of us who, like me, are torn between both their intense love/lust of living the fantasy, and also trying to live in the real world without feeling caught between two worlds.

    And to think it all started with me as a four year old getting “turned on” by Dick Van Dyke being magically turned into a sheep dog. Where do transformation fantasies come from?

    **I made a lot of big statements here that I feel strongly about after decades of soul searching. If you disagree, please know that I meant no offense by what I’ve expressed here.

  9. I just found this article. It’s pretty good, thanks for writing it! Transformation is my primary fetish, and I’m a woman. I like inanimate, animal, etc. Almost anything TF.

    I especially like the horror and masked violence of it. I think it has a relation to “rape fantasy” in that it’s a violation of your body, but without the sex. In general, I think TF is a substitute for sex, whether it’s consensual TF or not. The “fetish” part is the substitution of a thing or idea for the actual sex act, after all. And the connection between TF and sexuality is carnally literal.

    I don’t identify with furries at all, though I don’t have a problem with people who want to be a furry.

  10. about 2 days ago i was searching about my fetish (TF of course) because i tought that i was the only one with this fetish and then i realized that i was definetly not alone and i’m happy about that,i saw your post about this subject and i didnt believed that someone actualy wrote about this fetish,btw if someone would like to talk just reply me (=.

  11. This is a fascinating article. I’ve had a transformation fetish since I was about nine and am in my early twenties now. Growing up, I was desperate to find information on the subject. Even though I’ve long frequented websites that are devoted to this fetish, I’ve always felt very alone in having it. It’s one thing to come across a tiny, obscure community of like-minded people; it’s quite another to finally discover a professional psychologist’s writings on the matter.

    However, my own specific type of transformation fetish isn’t really discussed here. I’m attracted to gender transformations. I suppose that the word “Sex” would be more accurate here than “Gender”, but “Gender” is the term that we typically use.

    Other than your brief discussion of Autogynephilia (which doesn’t sound like it necessarily involves any kind of transformation), the only time that you mention a gender component of TF is within the context of realistic changes. You mention “body modification and/or gender reassignment sex changes”, but this isn’t what my own fetish involves.

    I’ve often seen the term “TG” used to describe my fetish, and I suppose an attraction to real-world gender reassignments could be one aspect of TG. A lot of things seem to fall under the TG umbrella, such as two people swapping bodies (think Freaky Friday, except where the two people involved are the opposite sex of each other) and ghost-like possessions of another person (think Patrick Swayze entering Whoopie Goldberg’s body in the movie Ghost) My fetish strictly involves transformation though – magic being used to transform a male into a female version of himself. So while TG would probably be considered a separate fetish from TF – since it has various “sub-fetishes” that don’t involve any kind of transformation – the two fetishes definitely intersect.

    I’ve tried to discuss this with multiple therapists, but none of them have really understood it. I think that it’s confusing for some people, because of its similarity to more realistic things like Transgenderism and Transvestism. Many people who have a TG transformation fetish probably are transgender, but not all of us are.

    Anyway, thanks for writing the article! Do you plan on ever revisiting this topic? I would really love to read something by you about the gender component of TF or about the broader TG fetish in general.

    • Hey j,
      I guess there is some truth to what you’re saying because as of about 6 months ago I started my transition to female, you see I used to be Jimbo from the comment that Kendra made at the beginning of the comments thread. It’s funny becae seeing the transformation in other people is what I sexualized but now that I’m the one that’s transforming I look at it all in a new light, and I’m so much happier for it! Best of luck to you on your journey!

  12. This is me exactly! I am asexual, but this is the only thing that is my fetish, it’s so weird but it’s what makes me happy/relaxed.

  13. Huh, guess I’m not alone on this one. I’m just a woman with some rather silly and specific interests and I’ve been trying to find a community that can relate to my odd little kink and every time I search about “transformation fetishism” it usually sends me down a rather…furry path (pun intended). So coming across this article that pretty much nailed it on the head, makes me feel a little at ease that it’s fairly common and that there IS a community for something so niche. I wish that TF fan whom you quoted was still around because they REALLY got it spot on. (Especially the humiliation aspect of it, never thought of it that way before) Shame they deleted their site. Ah well, nevertheless, thank you for taking time to research into this. I’m going to do the same and see if I can find more people like this.

    • Hey there, my name is Ruby and I’ve been a transformation fetishist my whole life, in fact the first linked article was about me (pre translation) “Jimbo Explains his Transformation Fetish. There are tons of active TF Communities still out there. Shoot me an email and I’ll happily point you in the right direction.

    • do you have an email or kik or other way i could contact with you? i want to talk to you in regard to this subject

  14. The whole concept of fetishes is something I’ve kinda avoided all my life (out of fear) but then I stumble into the TF community. I google “are transformations a fetish” and I realize not only is it a fetish, but I have it. I hope I’m not the only person in this struggle, deciding whether or not to embrace a very weird part of yourself… Am I the only one?

  15. Great article, but I have doubts about the scientific validity of autogynephilia, at least as an mechanism for transgender women. There was a study a while ago, I believe, that found that cisgender (ie not transgender) women ALSO had “autogynephilia”….and, of course, the methods by the original coiner if the term have been heavily criticized as unscientific.

  16. Just saw your essay on the transformation fetish. Not quite two months ago, I wrote my own essay on the subject here You might also want to take a look at art I’ve collected and posted over the years

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