Transgender Animal Community Growing in California
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA — October 16, 2018
Unusual things happen in California every day. In Los Angeles, thousands of people have the pleasure of coming across the transgender dog — that is, a person who identifies as a transgender animal.
Tony McGinn, known as “Tony Bark” to his friends, says he has been into animal role-play his entire life and refers to himself as a “human pup.” It started when he met his future husband.
The 30-years-old, who was born female and is transgender, is supported by his husband and “handler” Andrew who accompanies him to regular play dates with other role-players in their hometown of Los Angeles.
Tony Bark says: "To me, a dog is everything pure in the world. Dogs experience the world through a lens of pure joy that I don't think other animals have."
He calls playing dress-up like a dog “fetch on all fours.”
"A lot of little kids like to play like they're a dog and most of them grow out of it. I just never grew out of that," he explains. "And now in my adult life, in my relationships, it's a way for me to feel vulnerable and exposed and close to my partner. It's a very intimate thing."
His “handler” Andrew adds in suport: "Imagine if the easiest way to delight your partner is you just throw a ball across the room. Relationships wouldn't fail anymore if that's all you had to do. I hang out and I provide him with lots of attention and tell him he is a good boy. That's basically 90 percent of it."
"I think everyone should feel comfortable exploring the limits of their creativity and imagination and most of us have grown up in a culture that strongly discourages you from taking it too far."
The story started six years ago when Andrew and Tony became part of the LA Pony and Critter Club – an animal role-play group founded by Ann Noble.
Noble explains she started the club to provide a safe space for people to explore role-playing. Today she holds regular so-called “play dates” for the group's members.
"Every time I do it, it's like the best time of my life, it's the best moment of my life," she says. "There's a difference between childish and child-like. Animal role-play allows you, as an adult, to recapture those childlike moments of the world being extraordinary."
The LA Pony and Critter Club founder now spends most of her time training other pony role-players, but has her own animal persona, Beauty the Pony, who she says has gotten her through some hard times.
"There are times when I go to do things in life — everything from hiking a mountain to getting through paperwork — and Beauty will march through it. She is strong. She has a lot of heart."
The group holds numerous events, including dog shows, herding events, and a biannual fox hunt where human pups hunt down human foxes in a kind of “capture the flag” scenario.
As for Andrew and Tony, the couple has known each other since 2009 and have three dogs of their own, which they refer to as “bio dogs.”
"I appreciate that I am married to someone who encourages me to explore my imagination and my interests wherever they lead and I try to do the same,” Tony Bark says.
But that doesn't mean Tony doesn't think of himself as a real dog. He states confidently that he “identifies as a dog” and says pet play is about getting into the head-space of the animal.
"Pet play is anytime that a person takes on the role of an animal," he also explains. "They emulate that animal either through their behavior or their actions."
Andrew also says he and his boyfriend engage in pet play every day. They play active games a few times a month, and most often it is in a social setting where they can present their skills.
Tony himself does all of this, donning a home-made dog “hood” for his pet play meetings, as well as a sex-toy harness which he reverses and uses to hold a rubber silicone tail.
He maintains that his pastime remains an entirely innocent hobby.
"For me it's not sexual but it's still a form of intimacy because it is a vulnerable place," he said. "It's a bit of a power dynamic that puts Andrew in charge and I enjoy that."
Andrew also says that he feeds and pours water for Tony as for a real dog, and they both really like it.
In addition, they both say that for them it is not only a hobby but also a professional activity. Tony has won numerous competitions and awards for his pet play, including two 'best in show' awards.
They have their admirers and viewers who come every time on their show and pay money for it.
"People come to my house and they see my ribbons and they say, ‘Oh, you have won all those ribbons at dog shows.’ But they rarely ask if I am the dog."
All of which might seem unusual to those outside the animal role-play community, but Tony says he rarely, if ever, has to deal with criticism or judgment from others.
"A lot of people expect it to be a taboo if they are not familiar with it. But when you live in Los Angeles in 2018, being close-minded about someone's weird hobby is more damming than any weird hobby could be," he explains.
Tony added: "I think everyone should try it once, and if they like it, they should try it a second time."
Here we have two abnormal people who have a childhood syndrome, or suffered from a lack of attention perhaps, and thus they try to attract thousands of views.
Such behavior is considered unhealthy in ordinary psychology, and such people would be kept in an institution — not placed in front of others publicly.
But, America is a free country, and thus such people emerge here — becoming whoever they want, but not necessarily normal, healthy people.
Many may condemn this conclusion, but the reality is that, according to any statistics, such people will eventually stop being noticed by others, and they will look for newer and newer ways to “improve” themselves, and shock others.
As we have said many times, America is not only a free country but also a very psychologically dependent and sick country.