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The Ultimate Shopping Guide For Trans Men In India

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!

Picking Your Clothing

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.

Below The Belt (But In A Good Way)

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.

Now, Let’s Accessorise!

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!

Look Good, Smell Good, Feel Good

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.

Binders

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.

Daunting Urinals No More!

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.

Packers


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.

Screenshot from Peecock Products.

Harnesses And Briefs

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!

Featured Image source: PxHere.
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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

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Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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