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Gender Neutral Swimwear: An Interview

Feb 21, 2024

Gender Neutral Swimwear: My Experience with Swimming as a Nonbinary Person

Finnegan Shepard

Do you love the whole vibe of swimming–the water, the sun, the relaxation, the fun, the losing track of time–but hate one fundamental part? Hint: the swimwear, and how it feels? If so, then you are not alone. In fact, this is an incredibly common experience for transmasc, non binary, and gender queer people. Swimming should be a time of joy, but because of how swimwear is gendered along binary, cisgender lines, it can instead turn into an experience of dysphoria that many folks avoid. That’s not the way it should be–and don’t worry, we suggest some solutions at the end–but in the meantime, we want to do a deep dive with a community member, asking them about their experience with gender neutral swimwear and swimming.



Both&: So let’s start off with the basics. Do you swim a lot?

Angie: When I was a kid, I loved to swim. It was something I shared with my Mom. We’d go every weekend, and during the summers we practically lived at the public pool around the corner from our house. But then when I hit puberty and my body started to change, I didn’t enjoy it anymore. That confused my Mom and made her sad, which of course made me sad, but the reality was that I was grappling with lots of gender identity stuff, I just didn’t have the words for it yet. Now I know that I’m non binary, and that being put into that super-femme category of women’s swimwear was really triggering. But at the time I just knew that something I loved was no longer something that felt good.

Both&: So you stopped swimming entirely?

Angie: Pretty much. I think, um, I think between the ages of twelve and twenty two or so I probably only swam a handful of times. It was easier if I was out in the wild, like by a lake or a stream or something, with friends I was comfortable with. In those spaces I would just wear my boxers and a t shirt or sometimes go topless. That felt great. But it wasn’t something I felt comfortable doing at a public pool.

Nonbinary person wearing sunglasses and shirt in pool

Both&: Did you look for non binary swimwear?

Angie: Sort of. I looked a few times, but the experience was so disappointing I gave up.

Both&: Can you tell us some stories of those experiences? Where did you go? What was so disappointing about it.

Angie: I think I tried Target first. Or maybe I googled, and saw that Target claimed they had non binary swimwear, so I went there to check it out. It was really weird, cause I didn’t even know what section to go to get it–Target is still divided by mens and womens sections, you know–and then the dressing rooms are womens and mens as well. I remember feeling really uncomfortable, like everyone was looking at me. I tried on a pair of what were labelled as gender neutral swim trunks that was paired with this striped sports bra style top. The shorts fit okay, but looking at myself I remember thinking ‘what makes this gender neutral?’ They were just regular shorts. Same sort of thing with the top. Sure, I could put it on and it fit, but like, I have sports bras at home. That doesn’t take away my dysphoria. In fact, it often triggers it, because it makes me more aware of my chest. So all in all I was just disappointed, it was sad that those were the only options and that they weren’t very creative or like, actually a different solution.

Both&: Was that the only time you tried searching for gender neutral swimwear?

Angie: No, I tried a few other companies online over the years. Again, it was kind of the same thing as the Target experience. I’d google them or I’d get hit with an ad, and the website would always be filled with these smiling, gender queer folks, and I’d want to try it, I’d want to trust that it would actually feel different. But it was always the same, just swimwear that fit okay but still made me feel really femme.

Both&: Do you know what you would have preferred? Like was there something in particular you were imagining?

Angie: (Laughs) Honestly I didn’t know what to look for until I found you guys. Once I saw your approach I was like “yes, that’s what I’ve been looking for.”

Transmasc model in lilac Romeo swimtank and Elliot swimtrunks

Both&: How so?

Angie: I think the biggest thing for me about what you guys do is that the swimwear feels stylish, so the focus isn’t on gender. I realize that sounds weird, because it’s swimwear very specifically designed for trans and enby and gender queer folks, but like, instead of walking around with a bull’s eye on me that screams ‘gender queer’, your swimwear makes me walk around feeling like people are looking at me because of how cool the garments are.

Both&: Thank you, that’s really sweet of you to say.

Angie: Also, of course the design elements make a big different. How the proportions work, so it’s just fitted enough but not tight, the stretchiness of the fabric, the arm holes concealing whatever compression I’m wearing underneath. I don’t pack personally but I love that you guys also thought that through and made the little packing pouch in the trunks.

Both&: When we were chatting before this interview, you said something about how Both& isn’t gender neutral swimwear. We don’t tend to think of ourselves as gender neutral either, but I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on that.

Angie: Honestly, I feel like gender neutral is kind of a meaningless term. It either means super baggy, or just kind of butch in style.

Both&: And that’s not what you want?

Angie: No. As a non binary person, I like to be fluid in my presentation. In non-swimming environments, I actually enjoy playing with more femme garments occasionally, that can feel empowering, almost like I’m short circuiting the system. With swimming it’s different, I think because of how exposed the body is, and feeling like I have less control over how other people read me. But whether it’s swimming or not, the beauty of being non binary is all about being gender specific, of defining terms only to deconstruct them. I’m not trying to level everything, make everything the same.

Both&: Such a good way to put it. Anything else you want to add?

Angie: Just thank you for creating what you’ve created. It’s honestly worth every penny.

Both&: You’re the best. We really appreciate the validation–everything looks glossy on the outside but I can assure you it’s really hard work behind the scenes.

Angie: I bet. Everyone–go get some Both& swimwear.

Both&: Haha, we will drop some links below. Thanks Angie!

our collection

  • Romeo Swim Romeo Swim

    Romeo Swim


    Stylish, versatile, and intentional coverage

  • Elliot Elliot



    The ultimate transmasc swim trunk

  • Emmett



    lightweight swim friendly packer