Shopping? Ha! For a trans man in India, sometimes it’s fun, sometimes it’s crazy, and sometimes it’s cumbersome. When it comes down to shopping for ourselves, it’s never easy to find the right clothes and accessories. When we go shopping, instead of shopping bags, it feels like we have army-style sleeping bags in which we put ourselves, because malls and shops become our area of combat. Each time, we fight with the eyes of people which are continuously judging us.
But this shouldn’t stop us. From one trans man to another, shopping can be a good experience if you know what to do. I am pointing out few things to remember, and I hope these somehow help you buy the right stuff for yourself. So, enjoy reading!
As a pre-op trans guy, it is very difficult to hide the chest area. But patterns can help us a bit in doing so. When we wear highly symmetrical shirts, they highlight the problem areas, like the binder lining, the shape of the chest, and make everything very noticeable. I would suggest going for less rigid patterns. They will camouflage everything.
In winter, things are a bit easy. Jackets can help you a lot. Scarves and mufflers will do the deed too. During this season, a lot of us tend to wear baggy sweatshirts all the time, but how about going for blazers and pullovers instead? After all, you are handsome, and you need to flaunt it!
In summer, an open shirt with a t-shirt inside or a summer jacket will help you a lot. If you are very curvy and have a larger more visible chest go for customized shirts. Buy the larger sizes and have the fitting at the waist. This helps snug your curves properly.
Trans men don’t have many choices in the pants department. We generally go for jeans bigger than our actual size to maintain that desired look. Most of us have broader hips than the jeans and pants typically made for cisgender men. So how do you maintain a trim look? Try taper pants. They are slightly looser at the thigh area, and easier to move in. Slim-fit and slim-straight-fit jeans are best. You can also try a tactic that I like to use – buying a bigger size and sizing down on the calf area.
There are a lot of accessories available to mix and match with your clothes – like beanies. Yes, beanies are not just for cold days in winter. They are the cherry on the top of your look!
Now, remember, don’t let those pants fall off! Belts are a great accessory to experiment with, you know. Belts enhance your dress sense. And, of course, so do shoes. We guys love shoes, and I know you certainly have the best taste in shoes. (And those who are this, I need shoes as my birthday gift. Haha, just kidding!)
Watches and bracelets go with everything you wear so compliment yourself by getting ones that suit your personality. And if you wear spectacles like me, affordable sunglasses and shades (with power) may be a distant dream, but if you get the chance, add them to your shopping bag to complete your look!
Oh, but how can I forget perfumes? Yes! They are not visible but your smell is with you all the time and you need to smell great to make that everlasting effect (on others, but most important on yourself). I have tried so many perfumes before I got stuck on this one fragrance and I just love it and obviously people around me like it too. Not that I’m bragging, but I get so many compliments for it!
And now for some serious business. All the above are outer features. Let’s talk about other essentials items for a trans man.
The utmost important thing for a pre-op pre-transition guy is a binder. Unfortunately, in a place like India where binders are not easily available, many use layers of clothing or tight vests. In the worst scenario, people use duct tape and bandages. This not only harms your body but also makes you self-conscious. Flattening is essential but it should not harm your body!
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In India, you can buy a binder from places like NORMA, or order yours from Amazon, which sells imported products from Peecock Products, GC2B and more. These can cost you between ₹2,500 and ₹5,000 a piece. Last week, I bought a binder from Peecockproducts. The material is good, but it cost me $38 (plus shipping) and it turned out to be too small for me. For your first binder, would suggest that you go for bigger sizes and have your fitting done here. How, you ask? Just call the NORMA guys to come to your home and take your measurement for the size of the binder. For a person with a 36-inch bust size, go for the XL size. This is not like buying a T-shirt. Two days ago I found this gem of a service—AliExpress. Though the product is Chinese, for a trial and error, they are really awesome. Yesterday, I ordered a binder for ₹450 with shipping! Oh, and try to get one with hooks for easy adjustments.
Your body has to deal with nature’s call and gender dysphoria. But nowadays we can use stand-to-pee (STP) devices which ease our lives. There are so many prosthetic designs available, but only online. Peecockproducts provides a range of STP products, too. Realistic designs, no spillage and they give you the right bulge (you know what I mean). But there is always a chance of it getting stuck in customs. You can also try another brand called EZP which is a little cheaper.
Those who are not living under the rock like me must have seen “Break Free” video By Ruby Rose. It is a short film about gender roles, being trans, and what it is like to have an identity that deviates from the status quo. Enough of the gyaan. I mentioned this video because, towards the end of it, Ruby Rose flaunts a packer in her hands. For a trans man like me, being able to stand and pee, having that necessary bulge in my pants and having sex (oh yeah!) freely is liberating. It makes me feel whole and complete and it’s like one of my biggest dreams. And packers are like little heaven-made devices to achieve this.
“Packing” refers to using a means or way to create a male-looking bulge in your crotch. People try several ways to accomplish this:
1. Homemade pant stuffers: people use sponges and cotton to do this.
2. FTM packers: These are basically for that bulge and are made of skin-friendly silicone or TPE material which can be worn with a harness or brief. It has a shaft which hangs down with realistic balls. All the sizes are available online.
3. STP packers: They are more pocket-friendly and can be used both for packing and peeing. They are made of silicone and are made of advanced funnel technology which prevents the backflow urine. They are available with variants like circumcised or uncut and with all the sizes like 4” 4.5” 5” 5.5” 6” etc. STPs can also be used by the FTMs who have gone through metoidioplasty. They are easy, cheap, skin friendly and serve the purpose.
4. Pack and play: They are the ultimate bliss! Although they are a bit costly, they are like the jack of all trades. They can be used for penetration and rubbing. The only con is that they are a bit costly – around ₹10,000. But they are worth it, man!
Packers can be worn by simply being placed in a snug underwear, or with a specialized packing of underwear/briefs or with packing harnesses.
For many trans men, packing is a daily practice, while others only pack some of the time, or don’t pack at all.
There are harnesses to hold the packer in place, and briefs and boxers too. The best place to buy all these, once again, is Peecock Products. Everything is available and they deliver to India. I love how their products help trans men feel confident while peeing and packing!
As trans men, we face so many issues when it comes to shopping for ourselves. Maybe some of these suggestions of mine will ease someone’s life. Of course, as always, there is a chance of improvement. And I’d love to know what other trans men would recommend!