Swimwear for Trans Men

We Said Every Body, and We Meant It: Swimwear for Trans Men

Following the success of Lands’ End’s recent article “When We Say Every Body, We Mean Every Body: Swimwear for Trans Women,” many of the positive comments were followed by the question, “But what about trans men?” We agree that the swimwear challenges faced by trans men are just as important as those of trans women—but I can only do one thing at a time! We are very proud to share the fruits of our research and interviews with you here as we delve into how we hope to help trans men look and feel their best in swimwear so that they, too, can enjoy an active lifestyle that includes the pleasures of sun and water. Our commitment to making sure that everybody experiences the delights of the beach or pool extends to every body. Every body.

The challenges faced by trans men in selecting swimwear designed for comfort and style as well as hygiene and avoiding body dysphoria are more difficult to navigate and perhaps more delicate to discuss than we initially understood. After conducting many interviews and gaining insight into the priorities of some trans men, it is only fair to state up front that Lands’ End does not currently offer men’s swim trunks with a packer pocket, nor swim binders. If these are important features for you, there are a few e-tailers offering these items; give it a Google and you’ll find them. What we are going to specifically address is safety, comfort, and style. Lands’ End is great at those! Our legendary winter outerwear collection shows our commitment to safety and comfort, and our style speaks for itself.

Trans Men’s Swimwear and Your Health

If you are using a binder on your chest, it is vitally important to understand that daywear binders are unsafe to use as swimwear. Unsafe binding can cause lung constriction, and if practiced long-term, unsafe binding may adversely affect the outcome of a future mastectomy. Swimwear binders are available at a few specialty e-tailers, but you might find acceptable compression with an athletic-cut bikini top, provided that does not exacerbate feelings of body dysphoria.

Another safety consideration for trans men is “care down there.” In interviewing a trans men’s health advocate, I learned from him that many trans guys stop considering the hygiene practices necessary for their undercarriage, such as not sitting in a damp suit, wearing a garment with a proper gusset against the body to protect against chafing—which is more likely if you’re in hormone therapy as it causes sensitivity—and guarding against getting sand in. . . places you don’t want sand. He suggested wearing bikini briefs under men’s swim trunks and changing out of wet swimwear as soon as possible as important first steps in trans men’s “care down there” related to swimming. Men’s bikini-style bathing trunks are an option for those who wish to avoid shopping from women’s collections.

Trans Men and Bathing Suit Anxiety

Trans men often have bathing suit anxiety rooted in several causes. Two of the trans men interviewed spoke of having internalized the pressures of Western beauty standards in the time they spent being enculturated as women, and said that they couldn’t escape the feeling of needing to look good in swimwear due to that experience. One guy I spoke with said that the aesthetics of gay culture caused him a great deal of bathing suit anxiety, because he feels he can’t measure up to the “ideal hot gay guy” no matter what he does. Two others sounded like any dad-type guys, and pretty much had no aversion to wearing trunks in front of anyone. It’s a fascinating spectrum, and wherever you fall on in, we can help you look and feel your best with our terrific selection of swimwear options. For example, one of those dad-type men’s only complaint was that the board shorts his wife picked up from the local big-box store were “too long and baggy.” I directed him to the Lands’ End website and suggested he choose swim trunks with a shorter inseam. He called me the next week and said his new Lands’ End trunks were the best he’d ever had! Sometimes simply shopping for the correct garment scaled to your height and proportions is all it takes to feel great in your swim trunks!

Chest scarring after top surgery can also cause trans men to feel vulnerable and self-conscious in swimwear. Top surgery scars are distinct, and the feelings of the trans men I spoke to ranged from proud to show their scars to feeling that being visibly trans would exclude them from the community they most wished to become part of. All of the men said that their bodies continued to change over a long period, and that their scars faded a great deal over time, so if you are dealing with top-surgery scarring, know that it might be different next season, or the next. You can always choose a rash guard—not a regular T-shirt!—to wear with your trunks. As we increase awareness about the dangers of overexposure to the sun’s harmful rays, more and more people of every age and gender expression are choosing rash guards as a regular part of sun safety. No one will look, or even think, twice if you choose to wear a rash guard to the beach or pool. You also have the option of wearing a rash guard only while it is needed to protect sensitive scar tissue or as top surgery scars fade. Or, like lots of men, you can wear one when you want, and skip it when you feel like it. The point is that the options are there for you!

Swimwear Styling for Trans Men

As previously mentioned, finding correctly sized and proportioned swim trunks is a primary part of looking and feeling your best in men’s swimwear. Try several styles and inseam lengths to find your ideal fit. The same goes for rash guards, which you can wear as you want or need to. Building a swimwear wardrobe is just as important for guys as it is for the ladies; you may want different looks for different occasions, too! Or, you might be like my dad and own one pair of trunks forever (I hope not!).

A major consideration for all of the trans men I spoke with was minimizing any hip curvature when wearing a bathing suit. There were two principal schools of thought: wear your trunks high to hide any curving, or wear your trunks very low to create a straight line from the hips. Try both methods and decide which one is right for you and your body.

If you prefer the traditional look of trunks with a bare chest, you could always pair solid-color trunks with a bright Hawaiian shirt, or casual swim shirt that you can wear before and after swimming, either for privacy or sun protection. It’s a fun look that gives you an opportunity to show your style. Please, I beg you, just remember that a decrepit band T-shirt is not swimwear!

We Understand That We Don’t Understand

Swimwear for trans folx is a new area for us, but we are eager to be good allies! We understand that trans people face difficulties that most people in the fashion industry do not face and perhaps cannot fully understand; at the same time, we at Lands’ End are determined to try. We affirm that the trans community, as well as everyone else, deserves the joy and pleasure of a healthy, active lifestyle that includes fun in the sun and water. Everyone automatically deserves respect simply because they are human. No matter your gender expression, if you want to shop men’s swimwear, we are eager to help you find something to help you look and feel great. We offer high-quality swimwear for everybody, and every body. Every body.

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