Summer is coming! Summer is coming! For most kids, that brings to mind swimming pools, shorts, tank tops, and no school. For parents of children who have recently transitioned, that means a little bit of panic about finding an appropriate bathing suit. You’re not alone in that fear. It’s a frequent topic on the online support groups around this time of year. There are options for you and your child.
If your pre-adolescent child is a FTM (female-to-male), then it should be a relatively easy task of finding some swimming trunks. There are swimming shirts available if parent or child isn’t quite ready to go bare chested yet. Hopefully, parents can chime in under comments if they have specific suggestions but it seems like most of the stores have swimming trunks and shirts available starting in the spring.
For MTF (male-to-female) kids, finding a suit that covers male anatomy can be a bit of a challenge. We’ve tried most of the big box stores and haven’t had good luck. The skirts are too short to completely cover the bulge. We’ve found Land’s End to be a good place to find skirted bathing suit bottoms. I’ve seen them as one piece suits or two piece. I just checked online and they do have a few styles of suits that would provide good coverage this year (2015). Are they perfect? No. When your child is romping around in the pool with all the other children, could someone possibly see a bulge? Yes, if they are specifically looking for one they might be able to see one. But, we’ve never had a problem with it. Your child is going to look like any other child having fun in the pool. We’ve used the Land’s End bathing suits for going on five years now and we’ve been really happy with them. I stock up when I see them go on sale because some years they have more skirted options than others. This year, I don’t see as many options though they still have a few styles.
Land’s End also has the swim short option. We’ve tried them in the past and we personally have found that they are a little more conspicuous than the skirted suits. I would try them on before purchasing to see if they work for your child.
Another option that I’ve been excited to try is LeoLines on Etsy. She has a whole line of transgender bathing suits and underwear. We haven’t tried them yet, but I’ve heard from other parents that they’re great. Her reviews on Etsy are really high too. We’ve never had a reason to purchase from her because we lived really close to a Land’s End outlet and always had easy access to the skirted suits. But, I want to check her out because I’ve heard such great remarks.
This year, we are also trying something new. We just moved from Florida and our community pool was almost deserted from November – February. There were several times when, if we suspected that the pool or beach would be empty, Conner just wore a regular girl’s bathing suit. Our family has a pool and Conner has decided that if it’s just the family, then she doesn’t necessarily feel the need to wear a suit that covers her bulge. She feels differently around non-family or strangers. But, she’s become a lot more comfortable in her own skin and has embraced the idea of being a transgender girl, which for her, means being a girl with a penis. Now, this is how my daughter feels and I wouldn’t push your child to do the same thing. She approached me about it when we were looking at bathing suits. There have been many days when, even if the pool was empty, she would wear a skirted suit because it makes her feel more comfortable on that particular day. But, every girl needs options, right?
Let me also say this. Most of your fears are unfounded. I was nauseous the first time we went to the pool. I was convinced that everyone there suspected that Conner had male anatomy. Her hair was still pretty short and I was certain that we screamed, “Transgender child,” that day. But, when I stopped to look around, there were lots of little girls with short hair. My kids looked like all the other kids and nobody gave us a second look. Know that your feelings are normal but that it’s probably going to be okay. In the unlikely event that someone would suspect something and ask you, then I’d take the “it’s-none-of-your-damn-business” approach. For me, that would be the cocked eyebrow/incredulous stare followed by, “Excuse me, how is that your business?” That should be enough to shut them down because, really, why are they paying that close of attention?
I look forward to hearing from others about where they go to find good bathing suits for their transgender kids. The most important thing is to help your child feel comfortable. If they don’t like the suit, don’t buy it. If they feel self-conscious, the day at the pool won’t be fun for them or for you. You’re probably going to be nervous the first few times, and so will your child. Don’t let it stop you from going to the pool or the beach. Go have fun. You’ve all earned it.
Image found under creative commons by Gareth on Flickr.