Trans Swimwear, Part One: Swimsuits for Trans Women and Other Transfeminine People
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Welcome to spring! As part of an ongoing quest to find great lingerie for trans and genderqueer people, I'm tackling swimwear. This week is Part One: Swimsuits for Trans Women and Other Transfeminine People. Next week. I'll talk about swimsuits for trans men and transmasculine people.
Buying swimsuits is difficult at the best of times, and perhaps especially so if you are either pre-op or non-op trans, or have dysphoria about specific parts of your body. But that shouldn't mean having to miss out on swimming and swimsuits!
There are one or two companies explicitly making swimsuits for trans women, designed to help with tucking and to provide support for breast prostheses. But this isn’t the only option you have! There are so many swimsuit styles being made right now...which gives you a good chance of finding something you'll like.
One-Piece vs. Two-Piece
I suspect the way to go is a two-piece swimsuit. One-pieces involve the third dimension of height, which can be hard if you have an especially long or short torso. Furthermore, the chances that the top and bottom of a one-piece will both fit in the way you like aren't great. If you find the perfect one-piece, I salute you, but removing that expectation may save you a lot of stress.
Instead, I suggest you hunt for your top and bottom separately. Find a bikini or tankini top that looks good on your particular chest, and then try to find a pair of neutral bottoms - or ones that provide an interesting contrast to your top.
I am a huge fan of this “mix and match” thing people have been doing with swimsuits for a few years now. It takes the pressure off to fit perfectly into one cohesive “look”, and it allows you to showcase a little of your personality. I saw a girl at the beach once wearing an American flag top and British flag bottoms, and it was kind of amazing.
Bikini tops are often sized less rigidly than bras, and they can offer some room to expand or contract the back strap. This can be a boon if you have a wider ribcage. I’m going to talk a lot now about swim tops that hide inserts well.
Obviously if you have the breasts you want on your body already, or if you are cool with not wearing inserts for swimming, everything is up for grabs. But if you want your inserts with you while you swim, these suits may be what you need.
Someone got an idea recently to make these flouncy swim tops, and I think they're great. They tend to have a little more coverage than the typical bikini top, and they can both accentuate a small chest and/or downplay the presence of bra inserts. They also look really bold. This isn’t a “hide yourself, woman” type of garment.
I also really love sporty tankini tops since they give a little more coverage while looking really sleek. This one, also from ASOS, goes up to an XL. You can find these ones almost anywhere, but here’s one to get you started.
Mastectomy swimwear may be worth a look as well. Many mastectomy swimwear companies go up to 2X, which can be up to around a 44 inch chest. In addition, they often sell swim-specific bra inserts. I like this bikini top from Hapari because it’s versatile and comes in a few different colors and patterns, just in case basic black isn’t your thing.
Hapari also makes tankinis, many of which have super interesting prints and designs. They seem to have the “high neckline but still cool” thing down to a science, which is great if you’ve got inserts. Try this one for its graphic colorblocking.
Swimsuit bottoms can present some problems, but in my extensive research (read: asking people), I've learned of a few solutions. My friend Lily* is all about the swim skirt. You could also wear cutoff shorts if you're going to the beach. But if you don't feel like swimming in jeans, here are some other options.
Danae makes a fairly tight swim short that they advertise as specifically for tucking your stuff. There's a picture of the back above, and here they are from the front for reference. I wish the site included a standing picture, and it worries me a little that they don’t--but if you haven’t been happy with conventional swim shorts, these may be worth a try.
Another option is to buy bikini bottoms that feel comfortable and have good coverage, and use them to hold in any stuff. Then invest in some cute looser bottoms to wear over them, something you’d be happy to go wading or swimming in or that you can leave on the beach if you want. This can be either some cute running shorts or a lightweight skirt: anything that can dry quickly, really. Busier patterns and darker colors will be less transparent when wet than lighter, plainer fabrics, if that's a concern for you.
Almost every woman I’ve ever met has a Coverage Garment they wear prior to swimming, or even during swimming if they’re having a bad body day. Because for reasons no one understands, swimwear is extremely revealing and we are all supposed to just be okay with that. These are great for if you’re not feeling your body 100% on a given day, because they let you get outside without feeling too exposed.
Lately, I’ve been seeing coverup dresses that look lightweight and swimmable. One of these might be exactly your thing. I’ve also seen something called a “beach romper”, which is like a little coverall/dress thing. It’s really cute but might not work for longer torsos.
Finally: a one-piece that might work out is a ridiculously cute swim dress with built in bottoms like this one from Modcloth. It’s easy for swim dresses to feel plain and dowdy. However, this one takes full advantage of its dress status, and I respect that.
What kind of swimwear works for you as a trans woman? What styles are you planning to try this summer? Let me know in the comments!
*Name changed to protect the awesome
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