Transgender Swimming: Packing, Tucking, and Swimsuits (2023)

Summer is finally upon us and you know what that means: suns out, bums out. With bluer skies, warmer weather, and the new Charli XCX album coming to almost every part of the Northern Hemisphere, it’s time to bust out your swimwear and hit the pool, Jacob Riis, Ginger Rodgers, or your fave local body of water. Regardless of how you feel about the summer months and the inevitable chafing that comes along with it, water is wet and swimming is back in season.

However, swimming isn’t always a straightforward experience for everyone in the queer community. While having access to queer beaches can be a game-changer for many LGBQ+ people to feel safe, for those of us who are transgender, non-binary, and/or gender non-conforming, the experience of swimming can come with specific anxieties. Trans bodies (or bodies that are visibly gender non-conforming in any way) are always under more scrutiny in public spaces, be that in bathrooms or on the beach. This, coupled with the fact that the majority of swimwear is still designed for cisgender bodies, can make swimming a complicated and stressful experience for many trans people.

A brief history of swimwear

Swimwear has made quite a lot of progress since the beginning of time. The scantily clad beach goers that you see these days most likely would have been arrested for public indecency back in the day. In the 19th century, women often wore full-sleeve chemise-type gowns made of wool or flannel so that modesty and decency were not threatened. Oftentimes these fabric gowns had weights sewn into the hems so that they would not rise in the water, god forbid a little skin was shown.

However, in the early 1900s form-fitting styles were proving more and more popular despite opposition from some groups. This phenomenon eventually led to the “swimsuit,” which gave way to bikinis, tankinis, mankinis…and the list goes on.

While public nudity was a major concern in designing early swimwear, it seems to be all the rage these days. However, despite movements forward in the world of swimwear, no one has quite yet addressed the gap in the industry for transgender and gender non-conforming bodies. While the fact that most swimsuits are designed for cisgender bodies is frustrating, there are some queer and trans brands breaking down these barriers. But even if you can’t find a trans-specific swimsuit that works for you, there are a few tips and tricks to managing swimming while transgender or non-binary for every type of gender expression and identity.

Transgender Swimming: Packing, Tucking, and Swimsuits (1)

Trans Masc Swimming Tips

If you identify on the trans masculine spectrum, you might have a few different concerns about swimming in public. If you haven’t had top surgery (either because you haven’t been able to access it yet or don’t plan on getting it), you might need to find a swimsuit that both affirms your gender while covering your chest. While you might not feel uncomfortable with this part of your body, it’s not always easy to go swimming as a visibly trans or gender non-conforming person.

As far as tops go, you have a few different options in terms of what to wear on top while you swim. Some people opt for swimming shirts, neoprene shirts, or rashguards. Rashguards are designed for surfing, so they are typically tighter and more like a water-ready compression shirt, whereas swim shirts can fit looser and are designed to protect against UV rays. You can also always wear a heavyweight baggier t-shirt over a pair of swim trunks or boy shorts. Neoprene is the same material that wetsuits are made out of. Some people opt to buy a shorter wetsuit known as a spring suit or a neoprene top and wear either of these over a binder.

Can you wear a binder while swimming?

If your binder is made from a spandex and nylon blend, you can absolutely swim in it. However, you’ll typically want to size up or make sure that your binder is loose enough to not restrict your breathing while you swim, especially if you are planning on doing laps or swimming for exercise. If you do end up taking your binder for a dip, make sure to soak it in cold water afterward or rinse the chlorine out in the shower when you get home.

You can also explore alternatives to binders such as KT Tape or Trans Tape, although be aware that the adhesive might not be as effective in the water. If you have had top surgery within the last year, make sure that you cover up your scars when you are in the sun, or make sure you are wearing strong sunscreen with high SPF.

Also, it’s important to know that you don’t have to bind when you are in public or at the beach unless you want to. Trans bodies should be normalized and deserve to be able to exist freely in public spaces including swimming spaces. Whether or not you bind while swimming should be based on your comfort level when assessing the space that you will be in.

How do you pack while swimming?

The good news is that most packers can be submerged in water for extended periods of time, especially the ones made of silicone. If you sometimes pack with a pair of rolled-up socks, you’re going to want to invest in something a little more substantial when it comes to swimming while packing. The not so good news is that it’s relatively hard to find swim trunks designed specifically for packing.

There are a few brands making a splash in this area but if you can’t afford these options, you might want to try layering packing underwear or packing trunks underneath your swimsuit, if you’re looking to achieve the same streamlined aesthetic as you would when wearing everyday clothes. You can also always opt to wear an EZ Bulge inside the lining of swim trunks you already own, or you can sew your own pouch in the inner lining of your swimsuit to hold it. Just make sure to use a similar mesh-like or quick-dry material if you’re going to go down this route.

If you choose to swim with a packer, it’s important to make sure that you let it air dry completely before storing. While chlorine isn’t great for things like binders and packers, you would have to submerge these for an extended period of time in chlorine in order for it to have a long-term effect.

Trans Femme Swimming Tips

We all have hang-ups about our bodies. Often summertime means warmer weather which means fewer clothes, and nothing says full display quite like swimming. It can be hard enough to feel confident and comfortable in your body while half-naked, let alone add in the fact that you’re trans. However, if you identify anywhere on the trans feminine spectrum, there are a few different types of bathing suits that can help.

Some of the biggest concerns that some trans femme folks might have when swimming might be around finding swimsuit bottoms that aren’t too revealing. While you by no means have to tuck or conceal any part of your body to make cis people comfortable, the reality is that the unwanted attention that can come from being read as trans in public can sometimes be too much. If you haven’t had bottom surgery yet (or don’t plan to), you might look for swim bottoms with a skirt or a ruffled option. This can help hide a bulge if that feels important for you.

You might also want to look into buying one-piece swimsuits that can help emphasize curves or consider using the extra breast pads that come along with some swimsuits, namely bikini tops. If you have dysphoria about your shoulders, wearing a high-neck halter top swimsuit can help offset this. You can always opt for a shorter wetsuit as well, for a more full-coverage look.

How do you tuck while swimming?

Tucking while swimming can be a challenge when you add in the element of water. If you are used to taping to tuck, the adhesive often doesn’t when wet and your tuck might end up coming undone in the water. If you are going to tuck with tape while you swim, try wearing bikini bottoms made from a compression material such as Lycra or spandex.

You can always opt to buy a swim gaff from independent sellers on Etsy or, if you have the money, consider investing in Unclockable’s Swim-Proof Tuck Kit. These tuck kits are waterproof for up to four hours and allow you to re-tuck after bathroom breaks. If you need a tucking option for longer swims, consider buying a gaff thong from brands like Origami Customs (or even off Amazon!) that you can layer under your swim bottoms.

It should also be noted that by no means do you have to tuck when swimming. Bulges belong on the beach and in any public space for that matter! If you don’t want to tuck or don’t care about the way people read you, just know that you can always rock whatever swim outfit feels the best and most affirming for you.

Non-binary/Androgynous Swim Tips

Many of us fall into gender categories outside of trans masculine and trans feminine, and some of us may identify more with androgyny or identify as no gender whatsoever. While swimming can provoke an extremely gendered environment, there are ways to mitigate your dysphoria by playing around with different gender-neutral expressions while swimming.

For those looking for two-piece swimsuit options, try out the shorts (either boardshorts or boy shorts) and a little top combo. The top can be a bikini top, sports bra-like top, chest binder, or crop top. For those looking for one-pieces, look for one-piece swimsuits without a plunging neckline. Some may have zippers that can be zipped up or down, but you can keep them zipped up. Many one-piece swimsuits also have a boy-short bottom rather than a bikini bottom look.

Another way to play around with gender expression is to accessorize with hats, cover-ups, and more. Try out floral button-down t-shirts to masc up an otherwise “femme” swimsuit like a bikini. Consider adding a shawl or wrap to femme up a “masc” chest binder and boy swim short combo.

Trans swimwear brands making a splash in the swim industry

If you’re new to FOLX and interested in gender-affirming healthcare, learn more about our estrogen and testosterone offerings. If you have additional questions, please contact FOLX members with questions about swimming are encouraged to reach out to their clinician.


How do you pack for FTM swimming? ›

Perhaps the best method is to get some sort of small pocket or pouch, like a baby sock, nylon sock, or the FTM Packin' Sack (see the packing page, harness section for details), place the packer securely in the pouch/sack so it cannot slip out, and then fasten the sack to the inside of your swim trunks with a safety pin ...

Is it safe to tuck while swimming? ›

You can tuck when swimming, but always be safe and don't do anything that hurts or feels really uncomfortable. You can also wear 2 pairs of underwear underneath your swimsuit. Also consider wearing 2 pairs of underwear underneath swim shorts or running shorts.

Can you swim with a gaff on? ›

They can be safely worn all day, as well as for exercise and swimming. We want to make sure you stay comfortable and safe so that you can wear them whenever you want, without worrying! -For the safest tucking practice, try to minimize the amount of time spent wearing a gaff.

What are the best packers for swimming FTM? ›

Silicone packers, usually our top choice no matter what you are doing, are non-porous so they should be zero problem. We have done some in-house testing of some of our non-silicone packers and all were fine even after being left in water for 3 days.

Can you wear gc2b swimming? ›

And yes, you CAN swim in a gc2b binder!

Can you wear breast forms while swimming? ›

Swimming with a prosthesis

Although you can swim in a silicone or foam leisure prosthesis it's important to rinse it well afterwards to avoid any possible damage from the chlorine or salt water. You can also wear a swim prosthesis that doesn't get damaged by salt water or chlorine.

Will swimming flatten my tummy? ›

Swimming cardio is one of the most effective ways to lose weight including your belly fat. This requires you to keep swimming for 15-20 minutes at the time while maintaining your heart rate levels in the particular zone that we call – fat burning zone.

How do you swim with a tuck? ›

Pull the tuck back just slightly tighter than usual, before then setting it down against the skin. This will allow the adhesive layers in the product to contract or squeeze together when they make contact with your body, giving the tuck better grip on your skin.

Do you wear undergarments while swimming? ›

So, should you wear underwear underneath swimwear? In general, you should never have to wear any underwear under your swimsuit. If it is a one piece, you don't need to wear a bra or panties. If it is swim trunks, swim shorts or swim briefs, you usually shouldn't wear underwear underneath those either.

How do you tuck with gaffs? ›

Gaffs are worn underneath underwear.
  1. You'll want to GENTLY push the testicles up with two or three fingers into your body. ...
  2. Then, use your hand to GENTLY tuck everything else back. ...
  3. Keep everything secured with your hand while pulling up the gaff completely. ...
  4. Make sure everything feels comfortable and secure.

How do you hide your belly pooch in a swimsuit? ›

A vintage-style, the high-waisted bottom is back this swimsuit season and is one of the best ways to hide belly pooch. Also, suits with ruching, blouson or ruffled tops, and flowy tankinis are all winners. Swim dresses are another excellent option.

What is the USA swimming testosterone rule? ›

The policy says an athlete's testosterone level has to fall below the "maximum allowable level for the sport," which under USA Swimming's policy would be 5 nanomoles per liter. Some advocates and experts criticized the new policy.

Do you wear a bra under swim tee? ›

Will a swim tee support my chest? We design our women's swim tees to be worn over a bra, tankini, bikini or bathing suit. This means they don't have underwires, shelf bras or soft cups, so they won't keep your bosom in place. If you wear something underneath that provides proper support though, you should be fine.

What is the ideal male body for swimming? ›

Broad shoulders with defined abs, lats, and triceps are the physical features earned by swimmers' frequent time in the pool. Above-average height, a long torso and upper limbs are other noticeable characteristics of the best swimmers. Many of these features can be acquired with a focused and dedicated swim regimen.

Is TransTape safe for swimming? ›

Yes! **TransTape is waterproof and sweatproof allowing for it to be worn through many vigorous activities including swimming in the ocean or a pool, showering and bathing.

Which binders can you swim in? ›

To swim with a chest binder, you need a binder made with high stretchability fabric as it allows you to move your body unrestrained in the water.

Do they make binders you can swim in? ›

The Basic Swim Binder offers compression of the chest and is perfect for swimming in any type of water. The Basic Swim Binder can either be worn on its own or underneath a swim shirt. This binder is also appropriate to exercise in.

What is a belly flop in swim? ›

: a poorly done dive in which the front of the body lands flat on the surface of the water. She did a belly flop into the pool.

How do you hide nipples in swim wear? ›

“My best hack is if you don't have nipple covers just laying around you can use regular, medical, or silicone tape and criss-cross it over your nipples,” says Brooklyn-based stylist Joiee Thorpe. “Lay the two pieces very flat so they don't show — smoother tape will work better.

Which is not advisable as a swimming outfit? ›

Street clothes (especially those made of cotton) can transport air and waterborne contaminants to the pool. Absorbent materials such as cotton can break down in the water. These fibers can clog pool filters and create the need for expensive repairs.

How do you support your breast in a swimsuit? ›

How to Add Breast Support to a Swimsuit
  1. Underwire.
  2. Shelf Bra.
  3. Adjustable Straps.
  4. Moulded Cups.
  5. Removable Breast Pads.
  6. Structured Designs.

Will I lose weight swimming 30 minutes a day? ›

Swimming at a moderate pace for 30 minutes burns around 250 calories. Do that four times a week, and in a month, you'll lose a little more than a pound. But every body is different, and research suggests that some people lose more or less weight than others—even when they do the same amount of exercise.

Which swimming stroke is best for weight loss? ›

Butterfly – this stroke has been shown to burn the most calories with on average 400-500 burnt in a 30min session. It is excellent for toning muscles, especially in the arms, chest, and back.

What swimming stroke is best for toning stomach? ›

The butterfly stroke is undoubtedly the best to tone the abs. As if four strokes were not enough, there are alternatives to the classic swim strokes to tone your abs. If you want to work your abdominal muscles without falling into a routine, undulating strokes and leg kicks will be your best bet!

Do you need to shave before tucking? ›

It's important to shave, trim or wax your pubic hair to help with comfort when tucking. Especially if you are using tucking tape, this will help prevent pain when pulling the tape off.

Does tucking in look better? ›

In about four out of five dressing situations, I recommend that a man tucks in his shirt. That sounds like a lot. But it's based on the assumption that well-dressed men have many collared dress shirts in their wardrobe, which look better when tucked. Most good looks for guys involve at least one tucked layer.

Why do men's bathing suits have netting? ›

The netting design allows your skin to breathe and helps your shorts and body dry more quickly after being submerged in the water or moistened by sweat or summer humidity.

Can you wear tummy control under swimsuit? ›

A: Yes, this item can be worn comfortably under a one-piece swimsuit.

What are the side effects of tucking? ›

Tucking does have some risks. These include urinary tract infections, problems with urine flow and twisting or inflammation in the testicles. If you have any of these problems, stop tucking until you can talk with your doctor.

How does a tuck strap work? ›

The strap attaches to the back of the gaff or garment. We recommend pulling the gaff up above your knees, attaching the silicone ring around your glans, tucking your bits in, then pulling the gaff all the way up. Adjust strap length until it comfortably holds everything back and in, not too tight.

How can I hide my hanging lower belly? ›

  1. Shift the show to your legs. ...
  2. Dress in one color. ...
  3. Lose your belly in midis and maxis. ...
  4. Trim your torso with an open jacket. ...
  5. Hide your belly with a closed double-breasted jacket. ...
  6. Untuck your tops. ...
  7. Go big on top, narrow on bottom. ...
  8. 8. Make a big statement somewhere else.
Jul 7, 2022

How can I hide my apron belly? ›

Use support bands or clothing.

Using a support band or clothing designed to support the abdominal area can help conceal an apron belly. It can also help prevent additional skin sagging and alleviate back problems from carrying extra weight in the front of the body.

Is it better to fold or roll clothes when packing? ›

Rolling your clothes in your suitcase will generally save space. This is because it squeezes air from between folds and means the most of available space is used. If done correctly, rolling can also ensure less wrinkles in your clothes.

Do you roll pants from the top or bottom for packing? ›

  • Step 1: Lay the pants on a flat surface.
  • Step 2: Fold the pants lengthwise, so the legs are stacked on top of each other.
  • Step 3: Carefully smooth out any wrinkles.
  • Step 4: Fold the pants in half vertically. ...
  • Step 5: Roll up from the bottom (tightly) to create a perfect cylinder.
Mar 28, 2023

Is it OK to roll clothes for packing? ›

Rolling is great for T-shirts, pants, casual dresses, swimsuits, and pajamas, but not so good for bulky clothes, like sweaters. They can take up more space when rolled versus folded. It's harder to roll button-up shirts, and rolling is more likely to cause creases in them because the fabric gets bunched up as it rolls.

Is it OK to fold a suit bag? ›

If your garment bag is designed as a carry-on, it will fold up. Before folding the bag, check all sides of the bag to ensure everything is zippered and secured. You can then carry your bag by the hanger, draped over your arm, or folded up.

Do you wear something under a swim shirt? ›

What do you wear under a rash guard or swim shirt? Women typically wear a swim suit top or one piece swimsuit under a rash guard or swim shirt for extra modesty. However, it's all a matter of personal comfort.

Can I wear a binder under a swimsuit? ›

Can you wear a binder while swimming? If your binder is made from a spandex and nylon blend, you can absolutely swim in it.

Are you supposed to wear anything under a swimsuit? ›

In general, you should never have to wear any underwear under your swimsuit. If it is a one piece, you don't need to wear a bra or panties. If it is swim trunks, swim shorts or swim briefs, you usually shouldn't wear underwear underneath those either.

How do you put breast support on a swimsuit? ›

How to Add Breast Support to a Swimsuit
  1. Underwire.
  2. Shelf Bra.
  3. Adjustable Straps.
  4. Moulded Cups.
  5. Removable Breast Pads.
  6. Structured Designs.

How do you wear a pad under a swimsuit? ›

Wearing a Pad

Stick the pad on while your bathing suit is dry. Take it out of the wrapper and stick the back of it onto your bathing suit bottom. Choose a thin one so that it doesn't bulge and make sure you're wearing a suit that fits snugly to your body.

Do you wear a swim shirt over a swimsuit? ›

Whether you're on the hunt for the perfect tankini or you're looking for a good pair of men's swim trunks, comfort and confidence are always key. Keep in mind that a rash guard or swim shirt can be worn with or over just about any swimsuit, making it a consistent option that will always serve you well.

What is the thing you wear over a swimsuit? ›

Cover-ups are designed to be worn over swimsuits so they're most often worn on the beach or by the pool. However, if you're in 'vacation mode' or at a sun resort, you'll often see coverups make their way into restaurants and bars too. Think of it as 'beach chic.

How can I hide my lower belly in a swimsuit? ›

Skirted suits can help to hide the tummy area. Wear a coverup – pareo, sarong or kaftan to help cover the tummy area and reduce tummy bulge. Black swimwear has a slimming effect. Swimsuits with a gathered / ruched tummy area are very flattering on a range of body types.

How do you hide your lower belly pooch in a swimsuit? ›

One of the easiest ways to disguise a belly pooch is to pick a swimsuit with the focus on another part of the body. A swimsuit with a deep plunge neckline or a sexy low cut back makes the most of your curves while drawing attention away from the belly area.

Do swimsuits get bigger or smaller in water? ›

Some swimsuits will get bigger when they are wet, while others will get smaller. This all has to do with the material that the swimsuit is made out of. The answer to this question is quite simple: Swimsuits will generally get smaller when wet because the material will contract slightly.

Should swimming dress be tight or loose? ›

A properly fitting swimsuit should fit closely against your body. Bunching at the seams or tightness and pulling at the straps and openings usually indicates an incorrect size. You should be able to move freely without causing the neck or leg openings of the suit to stretch.

Should you wash your swimsuit after every use? ›

Wash promptly with a mild detergent—after every wear

To keep your swimwear looking, functioning, and smelling its best, wash your suit according to the care instructions on the label as promptly as possible after every wear.

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