For transgender people, finding functional and attractive undergarments is difficult. Simply walking into a store is out of the question, since mainstream brands don’t cater to such specific needs. Instead, trans men and women rely on undergarments made for cross-dressers or post-surgery patients, or make do with DIY adjustments to regular underwear gleaned from YouTube videos, forums and blogs.
As a result, trans undergarments have always been more about function than fashion – until recently.
In the past few years, a number of designers have begun creating attractive underwear that caters specifically to the needs of trans bodies: binders to compress the chests of trans men and drawers with room for a prosthetic penis or stuffing material; underwear that flattens the groin area with stretch fabric and has room for hip and buttock padding for trans women, and bras made to fit a wider rib cage and accommodate inserts. These garments don’t just offer comfort – they can transform a person’s silhouette.
Hurrah for greedy commerce!
Cy Lauz, a transgender woman, says the lack of garments is more than inconvenient – it takes take a psychological toll. “On a human level, it’s disheartening,” she says. “When there are products out there [for you], it’s usually because someone recognizes your existence.”
And they didn’t need to be threatened by legislation, or cajoled to do it by tax breaks, either!
So, it’s win/win all round, yes?
Well, come on, this is the ‘Guardian’, after all:
While these products are a welcome alternative to makeshift underwear, trans people want more options.
“A lot of these garments are, frankly, boring from an aesthetic perspective,” wrote Elaine Mendus, a 25-year-old trans woman, in an email. “Where’s the lace? Where’s the risqué? Where’s the fun?”
While trans underwear businesses can work on diversifying their products, the most valid critique is the price point. While at least one company, LeoLines, offers male to female underwear for as little as $12, Chrysalis, Bluestockings Boutique and All is Fair sell items for between $36 and $175.
That’s too steep a price to pay for most members of the trans community, who are twice as likely to be unemployed than the general population and have high rates of homelessness.
“The parts of our community that are most in need can’t access these [undergarments],” says Oram. “I see it as a medical necessity.”
*sighs* Of course you do.