Summer is approaching those of us north of the equator and with summer come pools, beaches, and assorted other ways to drive any trans man crazy. It’s hot out so you want to cool down, but swimtrunks don’t even come close to covering breast tissue (thank god, that’d look horrible). What’s a guy to do?
Enter the rashguard. Originally designed for surfing, rash guards are essentially very thin t-shirts that are cool and dry quickly so you’re not still soaked 20 minutes after laying in the sun. Where I grew up we’d wear boardshorts and rashguards all summer long, but in recent years they’ve extended beyond the coasts.
The biggest advantage to rashguards is that you can bind under them with little problem. For trans men who aren’t out to the people around them, rashguards paired with boardshorts are also fairly gender-neutral. If you’re a very small guy like me they’re easy enough to find in the kids’ section.
Can’t find a rashguard? Go to an athletic store and find the moisture-wicking tops. Just about any one will do, biggest thing to check for is whether or not your method of binding will show through.
Of course, you could just wear a t-shirt or tank top. My biggest reason not to is that they take forever to dry which is a pain in the ass if you’re at the beach or camping. They also look…like you’re wearing a t-shirt or tank top. This can pose problems when people ask why you won’t take off your shirt or unknowing mothers start bugging you to put on a real swimsuit. Rashguards and moisture-wicking tops look enough like they belong in the water that people tend to ignore them.
One last question that seems to pop up a lot is whether or not binders can be worn in pools. I’ve not done any scientific testing or anything, but I can say that my first year of binding I owned only one double-front from Underworks. That thing got worn every day for at least eight hours and machine washed with chlorine bleach. It managed pools, beaches, and lakes just fine for the three years before it finally wore out. Even then I probably could’ve gotten another year out of it with some additional reinforcement, but it was pretty damned funky so I passed.