For many trans people, swimming is often something they have to give up before or during their transition. Swimming attire is heavily gendered and often shows a lot of skin, making some trans people unable to do it. In my experience, I was an avid swimmer before realizing I was trans. It was incredibly important for me to start swimming again once I became more comfortable with my body.
My experience – Before I realized that I was trans, I was a competitive swimmer. I swam for my high school junior varsity team and would have made varsity by my junior year if I continued. In hindsight, so many of the things that I hated doing in swimming were because of dysphoria. The locker rooms and speedos both were brutal for me. So many times, I would either not practice or have to get out of practice early due to dysphoria.
I broke my tibia and my fibula on a diving board outside of practice two weeks before my junior year. It was a compound fracture, and I now have a metal rod in my leg. Even though the injury was horrific, it gave me an excuse to quit the swim team without any questioning. My coach saw so much potential in me; I do not think he would have taken me freely quitting well. Not only that, but I was a lifeguard at the same pool. For some, lifeguarding may be an amazing job; however, it gave me incredible amounts of anxiety and mental turmoil. For both swimming and lifeguarding, me breaking my leg gave me a free excuse to quit without questioning. I was not able to swim for nearly two years after I stopped.
Once I became more comfortable with my body, I was able to swim again. For me, that was after ten months of HRT, my orchiectomy, and nine months of laser. My body had gone through serious amounts of change; I no longer get away with being shirtless. For me, wearing swim trunks and a sports bra worked well for daily use. Some might prefer a more feminine style; however, for swimming by myself, it worked well.
Although different people’s dysphoria can heavily alter when they are comfortable with swimming. For many, it might take top or bottom surgery to get to that point. Furthermore, transgender surgeries can be expensive; it may take years of saving to afford.
Skorts – When I did start swimming with other people, I opted for feminine styles. I still wore a sports bra; they do a great job of giving support and making sure no accidents happen. However, skorts have been incredibly valuable for me when swimming. Skorts are tighter shorts with an exterior of a skirt. For those who worry about tucking, it gives excellent outer coverage while still maintaining a feminine look. If you get an athletic or tennis skort, you should have no worries about swimming. In my experience, I have gotten great skorts from places like lululemon and Macy’s; however, they can be expensive. Many cheaper options exist, but with something like a skort, spending more money may be a good idea since you only need one.
In my experience, the skort that my mom gave me from lululemon is amazing. There are many lengths available, depending on what you want. I personally prefer longer skorts for more coverage. Not only that, but I do not feel comfortable showing large amounts of skin. Having control over what I show with lengthier skort has alleviated that anxiety for me. I have received many compliments when wearing them and would highly recommend a skort for swimming.
I would love to feel comfortable enough with my body to wear a bikini or one-piece in the future. Nonetheless, I am more than content with wearing a sports bra and a skort for the time being.
Something important to keep in mind – Body hair can be a massive deterrent for swimming. For many trans girls, hair removal is a critical step of their transition. Many will use laser hair removal or electrolysis. However, both of those are expensive and take long periods. If you are short on money and want quicker results, waxing may be perfect. The sessions are fast and effective. Not only that, but you do not need to worry about hair growth for many weeks, especially if you are repeatedly doing it.
To finish – Swimming is often something that many trans people are unable to do before and during their transition. In my experience, swimming was an important resource for me, but I had to stop due to dysphoria. However, certain clothing items helped me get back in the pool, such as sports bras, swim shirts, and my personal favorite, skorts. As you get more comfortable with your body, many trans people can get back into the water to swim again. I hope my article has been helpful to you and wish you good luck in your transition.