Nov 16, 2023
Swimwear for transmasc men and transmasc swimwear
Finnegan Shepard Founder of Both&
One of the most charged spaces for transmasc people is swimming. Whether it’s at the beach or the pool, swimming often triggers such intense dysphoria that transmasc people simply avoid it all together. Luckily, that is beginning to change, thanks to developments around transmasc-focused swimwear that tackles the three main challenges transmasc folks report having:
- What to do if you haven’t had top surgery, or if you don’t want to expose your torso, without feeling like you’ve put an enormous ‘look at me’ sign on you?
- How to pack in a way that is comfortable and secure?
- How to find swim trunks that create a masculine silhouette rather than pinch at the hips, and create a curvy fit around the bum and thighs?
In fact, these problems have been solved so well that in a recent video testimonial, Corey, a trans man in the UK, reports:
I haven’t been swimming in fifteen years. [Putting on Both&] I was radiating pure unadulterated joy. What a feeling.
But before we get too sidetracked, let’s build a little timeline of swimwear options for the transmasculine and nonbinary, masc presenting communities, and then explore the options that are currently out there.
The evolution of transmasc swimwear
If we go back far enough, swimming costumes are pretty epically nonbinary:
While these swimming costumes were only worn by men at the time, there are elements to them that are very conducive to transmasc or nonbinary fashion trends today, especially in the added tank.
Fast forward fifty years, and swimwear becomes extraordinarily binary, and very focused on revealing cisgender bodies. Specifically, swimwear accentuates cisgender bodies:
This emphasis on cisgender bodies–accentuating curves and cleavage on women, accentuating muscle and squareness on men) makes swimwear for people who don’t ‘fit’ into the binary essentially impossible to find.
The result, chosen by many transmasc, gnc, and nonbinary people in the early 2000s and oughts looked something like this:
In the last five years, there has been an explosion of brands seeking to create a better alternative–one that is more comfortable and frankly, more flattering. In the next section, we will explore these brands and what they have done to improve designs.
Top fits and brands in transmasc swimwear
So what is the fit that most transmasc people are looking for when swimming? Put simply, a masc one. Everyone has a different style preference, but one of the challenging things about swimming is that it limits the ability to layer, and to therefore have more control over shapes. If you are transmasc, regardless of if you’ve had top surgery or are on HRT, your body will exist on a spectrum of physical attributes, some of which you may identify with more than others. Finding swimwear that is gender affirming and can make you feel safe and confident while swimming means finding a fit that works well with your body and also creates the silhouette you want to have.
We’ve divided the options available to transmasc people into three categories:
- Swim shorts paired with a sports bra or rash guard style top
- Swim trunks paired with a tank of some kind
- Swim trunks stand alone (for folks post top surgery)
1. Swim shorts with a sports bran or rash guard top
In this arena, TomboyX is the brand that likely has the most options. This look is often read as more butch than transmasc, but it provides the coverage required for folks who are AFAB and don’t want a feminized swim look.
The swimwear itself is comprised of two parts. The first part are the bottoms, usually tight:
And a top:
The tops sometimes often have a compression element. This means that they can stand in for a sports bra, though folks with larger chests or who want a very flat chest won’t be able to find the same compression as binding. (However, binding while swimming presents it’s own dangers, so please be aware of those and do your research).
In general, this style of outfit is:
- A comfortable, more masculine solution for AFAB people, but
- Is often not a top pick for transmasculine people, as it still emphasizes curves and reads as more of a tomboy or butch look than a transmasc one.
2. Swim trunks paired with a tank of some kind
This second option is more versatile and favored by transmasc people. The trick is to find a pair of swim trunks that fit right, and a tank that is fast drying, creates a square shape, and covers any lines created by a sports bra or any other compression top worn beneath the tank.
There are a number of swim trunks on the market. One popular pair is made by Humankind Swim, using a stretchy fabric and shorter length (disregard the top here, which is more of an example of a rash guard or sports bra):
A very popular tank for transmasc people is Both&’s Romeo swim tank, which is made in proportions to fit AFAB bodies without bunching at the hips, in a stretchy, vintage style fabric, and with arm and neck holes that minimize revealing any compression worn beneath:
What is so adored about this top is how effortlessly masc it is. Rather than reading as butch, or like it exists simply to cover up the chest, it’s cool aesthetic makes it feel like a style choice.
3. Stand alone swim trunks
Following on from the swim tank, Both&’s swim trunks have been made to hit all three top transmasc pain points in one. They have an in built, optional packing pouch (and also sell a light weight, water friendly swim packer to go with), stretchy, vintage style fabric with a wider waistband and shorter inseam for the right proportions, and deep front pockets that create a square shape:
The trunks are designed so that they won’t pinch your hips, creating that dysphoric muffin-top-at-the-beach vibe, and give plenty of room through the thigh without being too long.
Find your favorite fit
As we’ve said, it’s great that we live in a time where there is not only an option for tranmasc people, but there are multiple options. We have outlined some of the pros and cons above. Now we will leave you with some looks to browse, so that you can find your top look.
Whether you are looking for transmasc swimwear for vacation, for daily pool usage, or for a fun beach outing, there are options out there. We suggest exploring the options and finding what feels most euphoric to you.