opinion

A Look at Products for Role-Play, Affirmation

A Look at Products for Role-Play, Affirmation

Gender affirmation and sexual role-play may not seem like topics that go hand in hand, but role-play can be a powerful tool for experiencing, exploring and expressing gender — or no gender at all. Let’s look at gender affirmation, role-play, how they can work together and how you can help your shoppers get the most out of both.

What is gender affirmation?

Gender affirmation can also come in the form of temporarily adjusting the look or shape of a person’s body to help them feel more connected with their gender.

Gender affirmation is an umbrella term that can apply to any of the many ways a person might choose to express or connect with their gender, which means there are unlimited options. If it helps you feel more like a woman, man, neither, a little bit of both, or something else entirely separate from the gender binary, then it’s gender-affirming.

While the term is most frequently used in relation to transgender individuals, anyone of any gender can and does engage in gender affirmation — often without even realizing it. Nose jobs, padded bras, hair or eyelash extensions and shapewear are examples of gender-affirming care that cisgender women commonly use and pay for. Muscle-building workouts, hair growth serums, testosterone creams, erection-enhancement pills and beard grooming are examples of gender-affirming care that cisgender men commonly use and pay for. Despite this, unfortunately, it’s often far more difficult for transgender people to access gender-affirming care than it is for cisgender people, due to transphobia and stigma.

Gender-affirming care looks different for everyone, depending on their unique feelings and needs; what they have access to in terms of community, finances, support and resources; and what feels “right” or safe for them. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to do it as long as it’s on your own terms.

For some people, gender affirmation comes in the form of language use: chosen names, correct pronouns, how they talk about themselves and their gender, and having others use the language that best acknowledges and represents them. For others, it’s about finding access to forms of medical treatment that can alter their body, voice and physical features to look and sound more aligned with their gender: plastic surgery, hormone treatment, hair transplants, laser hair removal and more.

Gender affirmation can also come in the form of temporarily adjusting the look or shape of a person’s body to help them feel more connected with their gender: wearing packers or gaffs, wigs, shapewear, corsets, chest binders, padded bras, bulge-enhancing underwear and more. That’s where role-play can come in.

Bringing gender affirmation and role-play together

Most people are familiar with the basics of role-play: Solo or with partners, we can temporarily look, sound, behave and interact in ways that are far different from how we usually present ourselves. We can enact fantasies, pretend to be completely different people or swap roles. Role-play allows participants to dip their toes in things that might be new or feel scary, especially if they have internalized shame or judgment about some of the sexual roles they want to play.

Role-play can also create a wonderful opportunity for exploring gender roles and expectations that we don’t have lived experience with, don’t feel safe or comfortable engaging in outside the bedroom, feel very turned on by or are simply curious about.

By creating a defined “container” that is mutually affirming, respectful and safe, everyone involved can have the freedom to express themselves and experience the sensations they are seeking, completely on their own terms.

One common aspect of role-play is using props, accessories and costumes to enhance the experience. This is where you come in!

While it is often easy enough to find clothing and other items associated with a particular gender, shoppers coming to your store may be looking for something a little more “adult” to help them feel even more affirmed in their role.

That includes products like panties with a realistic built-in vulva or underwear with an erect penis and testicles. Some feature vulva and anal openings that can be penetrated. There are also breast forms that make it easy to achieve the look and feel of realistic breasts.

Giving your shoppers what they need to explore

The best gift you can give your customers who are looking to experiment with gender role-play is a safe and welcoming space where they feel zero judgment as they shop around. Train your staff to ask customer-focused questions and be all ears for their answers. This helps the shopper lead the way and ensures their needs are met, without any awkward fumbles or wasted time.

Make it easy for your shoppers by stocking up on the stuff they will be looking for: harnesses and packers, binders and shapewear, lingerie in plus sizes, cute accessories like gloves or nipple covers, and shoes in a wide range of sizes. Know how to convert women’s shoe sizes to men’s sizes and know what historically sells well. Many shops see a lot of shoe sales around sizes 8 or 9, and then another jump in sales for sizes 12 and above. Knowing that, you might want to keep some 13s and 14s on hand to be ready.

Cultivating a welcoming atmosphere where folks feel they can shop for gender-affirming supplies without any worries or hassles is not just about making sales. It’s also about building community and winning the hearts of fiercely loyal customers who will keep coming back for more.

Rebecca Weinberg is an award-winning industry leader with more than 20 years of experience in the adult industry. She is the president of multi-award-winning pleasure product manufacturer XR Brands.

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