By: Lorelei Erisis*/TRT Columnist—
Just recently I had a lovely conversation with a young trans friend, which reminded me quite sharply of the importance of coming back to basics occasionally.
I thought, after the conversation was finished, what we had talked about was exactly the sort of thing I wish I heard when I was beginning my own transition. It’s a subject trans women don’t often discuss amongst ourselves, but which affects many of us: tucking.
If you aren’t familiar with “tucking,” it refers to the technique used by trans women, drag queens, and anyone else possessing a penis who might want to hide it from general view or even a hinted-at outline.
The problem with most of the articles I found researching this column was that they tended to focus on more temporary tucking solutions for when a super-flat crotch might be preferred.
Without going into any of the more elaborate procedures, the simplest method of tucking is just to take the penis, fold it down, and pull it back between the legs, as tightly as is comfortable. While doing this, push the testicles to either side of the penis, ideally up into the inguinal canal, the two little holes from which a person’s testicles initially drop and which they often go back into to protect them during sex. This reduces the amount of space the genitals take up in your panties and between your legs. I, however, find this hard to maintain with a simple daily tuck, so mine are often tucked up under and slightly behind the shaft of my penis, and unless I’m participating in some crotch-jarring activity, this is just fine.
Next is finding the right panties to keep the tuck in place. Early on, I had a penchant for sexy, satiny panties that were often too skimpy. And though I still like these on occasion, they just aren’t practical for the needs of my, “anachronistic genitalia.”
What I find works best are relatively new cotton panties. You’ll want to get some idea of your hip measurements. For a trans woman, this will generally be smaller than a cisgender woman. This measurement will help you make sense of the often baffling charts on packs of panties.
What I’ve learned, after trial and error, is that I have to strike a balance between my hip measurement and the fact that I have more to contain in the crotch area than most cis women. The panties should be tight enough, with good elastic around the leg holes, to hold everything in place but not so tight that there isn’t some give to allow for comfort and movement without risk of anything falling out.
The reason I recommend cotton, or some other decently breathable fabric, has to do with hygiene and safety. Penises aren’t really designed to be kept in such a warm, moist position for an extended period of time. Breathable fabric panties and untucking for at least part of the day, while sleeping at the very least, are a good idea.
In addition to the right panties, I also find a simple pair of tights or pantyhose help to keep things in place. Especially when being active or wearing clothing such as a very short skirt or tight shorts.
A great help keeping your tuck hidden and also comfortable is the miracle of skirts! Most skirts provide enough fabric and flare away from the body to disguise even a quite loose tuck.
This leads to my last two criteria: Dressing for your body type and managing critical self-assessment.
These are two areas of advice that I would extend beyond trans women, to trans and cis people of any gender. With this caveat, a woman should dress however she wants, in whatever way makes her happiest and most comfortable.
If you know your body type and can get an idea of what will work on it and what won’t, then you can work your daily wardrobe around that.
What I mean by managing critical self-assessment is quite simple. Because of dysphoria and various other socially influenced body negativities, I might notice every little flaw in myself. Others, in my experience, often don’t notice or care about these things at all. Including what appears to me to be an unsightly and misgendering bulge in my crotch.
As I have learned to relax about my own insecurities, and really look at other women, I have noticed that many cis women, in addition to all the little bulges and bumps we are encouraged to reign in, often have pretty significantly bulging crotches. The perfectly flat crotch, it turns out, is mainly an ideal, not a constant reality.
So that tiny bulge in my pants? Not really as noticeable as I thought. In fact, as the years and HRT have assisted, I have even found I can be comfortable wearing a bikini to the beach, without any special care or preparation beyond normal femme-scrutiny in the mirror
What does it matter if there is the slightest of bulges at my crotch? I’m a trans woman. That is just how my body is shaped! I’m not trying to advertise what’s in my panties. And I prefer to keep things mostly hidden and out of the way. But I don’t really care if it’s a concern to anyone judging my fashion choices either.
I’m a woman, and this is the body I was given.
*Lorelei Erisis is an actor, activist, adventurer and pageant queen. Send your questions about trans issues, gender and sexuality to her at: email@example.com.