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Trans Swimwear, Part One: Swimsuits for Trans Women and Other Transfeminine People

Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links.

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.

Danae makes trans-specific swimwear, but don't feel obligated to limit yourself. Trans-Vormer BIkini Short via Danae.

Danae makes trans-specific swimwear, but don't feel obligated to limit yourself. Trans-Vormer Bikini Short via Danae

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.

Flouncy bikini top via ASOS.

Raisins California Flounce Bikini Top. Via ASOS

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.

Oakley Sporty Tankini via ASOS.

Oakley Sporty Tankini via ASOS

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.

Black Twist Bikini Top via Hapari

Black Twist Bikini Top via Hapari

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.

Sunstripe Eyelet String Tankini Top via Hapari

Sunstripe Eyelet String Tankini Top via Hapari


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.

Zanzibar Drawstring Swim Skirt via Hapari.

Zanzibar Drawstring Swim Skirt via Hapari

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.

Trans-Vormer Bikini Short via Danae.

Trans-Vormer Bikini Short via Danae

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.

River Island Beach Runner Shorts via ASOS.

How cute would you be in these? River Island Beach Runner Shorts via ASOS

Coverage Garments

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.

Motel Cut Out Parrot Beach Romper - ASOS

Motel Cut Out Parrot Beach Romper via ASOS

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.

Swoon by the Sea Swim Dress in Black Gingham - Modcloth

Swoon by the Sea Swim Dress in Black Gingham, via Modcloth

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


12 Comments on this post

  1. Terp Mama says:

    I am the mom of an awesome 13 year-old transgender girl. She loves to swim and so far we’ve had good luck with a tankini top or rash guard (no breast development yet) and a swim skirt. However, now she is looking for a 1-piece suit since she would like to try out for the swim team in high school next year. She will also start on estrogen this summer, so she will eventually need a suit that keeps everything up top in place. I would love to hear any suggestions on brands that make comfortable, one-piece suits that won’t draw attention to her crotch area. She has a little more “volume” down there than other girls her age.

  2. Claire says:

    Absolutely DO NOT buy mastectomy swimwear- The fact that that’s even presented as a good idea is somewhat horrifying. Mastectomy swimwear is primarily used by women who have had breast cancer, and often times they cannot wear other forms of swimwear while YOU CAN. Wearing mastectomy swimwear because it “hides inserts” is completely insensitive to women who have been through one of the scariest experiences imaginable.

    • Eve says:

      I know nobody who would be offended by a transwoman wearing mastectomy clothing. I myself use mastectomy bras and swimsuits because I can actually have breasts in my day to day life before I have my top surgery done. The purpose of the article of clothing is to hold inserts. That’s it. Nothing is stopping anyone from wearing whatever other tops they want, as breast cancers survivors aren’t only limited to mastectomy bras. It is not insensitive to use them because they are marketed primarily at breast cancer survivors.

    • Courtney says:

      Situation: a trans woman buys and wears mastectomy swimwear
      Victims: nobody
      Beneficiaries: the trans woman

      How is this horrifying to anybody but a transphobe, Claire?

    • AGirlUShouldKnow says:

      Is there some mysterious mastectomy swimwear shortage I am unaware of?

  3. Richelle says:

    I find a swim dress to be good because it covers the lower area and looks good for a person with a long top section. The inside part of the suit fits nice and snug and the out side portion is free floating and moving, giving you a lot of freedom to move and look good at the same time.

  4. Jem Pammenter-Fry says:

    I’ve found that wearing tight underwear under bikini bottoms means you can get away with a much skimpier bikini. It really is an amazing feeling walking out of the sea, Bond-girl style! Match the colour of the underwear with the colour of the bikini. Black is always a good option. Coincidentally I’m posting this comment from my hotel room in Lanzarote, wearing a bikini, and about to head to the pool. It definitely works.

  5. DDtop says:

    Hi being a normal male if there is such a thing? well that sort of area but im just me anyway.
    i was blessed/unblessed with breasts since young which now since have an hormone imbalance partly could be the Fibro/Raynauds but also a P tumor which made my Prolactin very high then they gave me Tgels which sent them growing so now fit into a 44E and just got the Elomi bra/suit in Kariba which is very nice has a rauched front so looks more loose love the colours/patterns but just wish more help/things was around for males that have Gyno issues but since been wearing a bra properly found they don’t get so painful/sore/sensitive so much has was get leakage.

  6. Fran says:

    Thanks for the great info.
    I wear a tankini top bra sized 34GG and boy short bottoms I have several styles , colors and mix and match them.

  7. Brianna says:

    As a preop trans woman of larger size (18) who wades in, but doesn’t swim per se, I have found swim dresses in general to be useful. I have one from Lane Bryant that works rather well at covering me up reasonably and hides my pre op status well.

  8. Annmarie says:

    And for those of us who may be using breast forms for whatever reason:
    The best I could find for my money, shape, feel, and durability (yes, they can go in salty water) come from a small family-owned company in California. Their site is pretty clanky so you always have to scroll down once you change a page:

  9. Lee Rivers says:

    This is awesome research and awesome that you put it together. All the awesome.

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