Recent advances in menstrual hygiene have finally collided with a growing market in underwear made specifically for transgender people. THINX, the company that makes absorbent underwear built to replace or complement pads and tampons, is advertising its newest cut as an option for trans men.
Around this time last year, the company acknowledged that its tagline, “For Women With Periods,” left out trans men, who still menstruate if they aren’t on testosterone therapy regimens; the hormone can cause permanent changes in voice, facial hair, and genital size, but even if a trans man has taken testosterone in the past, his period will soon return if he stops taking regular doses.
THINX displays its new boyshorts on both a woman and a trans man, model Sawyer DeVuyst. For trans men who don’t identify with the shape their genitals take, wearing a tampon or menstrual cup could be physically and psychologically uncomfortable. Absorbent underwear in an androgynous cut is a sleek, discreet option that could even hold up in a locker room or other highly exposed setting.
Underwear is a notoriously fraught frontier for trans or genderqueer people, because undergarments are specifically tailored to binary ideas of genitals. There’s extra fabric (or not) where bulges might be (or not), and sizing options are limited to the average body types of the target gender. Many options for trans people—binders for the chest, tuckers for the groin—have prioritized function over fashion and comfort. In some cases, as at one Austin, Texas lingerie store, trans people are snubbed or humiliated when shopping.
But the past few years have seen trans people and allies launch companies to make better-fitting, better-looking underwear for trans bodies. Cy Lauz started Chrysalis Lingerie, a brand targeted at trans women that sells bras made to hold breast enhancers and underwear that cinches the waist and smooths the crotch. All is Fair is preparing to unveil a “genderless” line of chest binders, tuckers, and groin packers. There’s also the more DIY BulletBriefs, which sews pockets for prosthetic genitals inside traditional men’s underwear. THINX’s new boyshorts don’t purport to shape or enhance any body parts, but for trans men who menstruate, its stylish recognition of their bodies’ needs is a fundamental affirmation.