The New Girl: Dressing For Summer While Trans

Rhyannon Styles embraces the swimsuit​

The idea of summer used to terrify me. It felt difficult to navigate from a wardrobe point of view. I felt like I had to lose the oversized layers of clothing and replace them with vest tops and short bottoms. But I didn't feel comfortable with that.  

Everywhere I looked, I saw people tanning in the park or swimming in the lidos. Their bodies highlighted what I didn't have.

When you're not at home within your own body, you don't necessarily want to  enhance the assets you already have. And if you're transgender like me, it can be even more daunting trying to squeeze your masculine figure into a size 12 summer dress and make the 'look' work.

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I was years away from having a body, physique and figure that I felt comfortable with. So I had to try and make do with what I had. It often felt overwhelming and frustrating, especially when going shopping. I had to work out how I was going to wear that skimpy bandeau top with a padded bra. 

Most of the time I opted for gender neutral t-shirts and denim shorts, which didn't make me feel summery or sexy. But this summer I had a first: I wore a swimming costume to the beach. 

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This particular costume came from a friend, who was having a wardrobe clear out. She handed me a black one-piece, which had a frill around the waist. 'It's quite 50's looking. I think it will suit you,' she said. And it did, hugging me in all the right areas and instantly feminising my body.

This summer I spent a week in Berlin and when it reached 32 degrees I knew I had to seize the moment. I stripped off my summer dress on the shore of the Tegeler See and ran into the lake water with my friends. As we were splashing around, I felt relaxed in a summer setting for the first time. I wasn't afraid of what other people might be thinking.

It's taken me four years, but with the help of friends I've grown to realise I have a great body. I didn't want to hide under the shade of the palm trees any longer. A large part of a transition is growing comfortable with who you really are. It was time to embrace my feminine form rather than hide it. The two staples in my summer wardrobe now? Attitude and confidence goes a long way.