Style

This innovative dad created a swimwear line for trans girls

With his daughter's safety at the beach in mind, Jamie Alexander designed these sleek shaping briefs right here in Toronto.

Beach-going with the fam is a summer staple, but these fun-filled outings can easily turn stressful when your kid isn’t able to comfortably wear what they want. This was a problem Toronto dad Jamie Alexander and his daughter Ruby, who is transgender, knew all too well.

“In the early days, when she socially transitioned, we put her in boys’ clothing for gym and swimming,” Alexander told CBC. But eventually Ruby expressed interest in wearing bikinis like the rest of her girlfriends. Alexander and his wife fully supported their daughter, but worried about any unwelcome attention or potential danger that could come from Ruby wearing an ill-fitting girls swimsuit in public.

The family searched for other alternatives (Alexander admits to buying “everything that was out there”), but they continued coming up empty-handed. On a 2019 trip to Panama, Ruby was back in boring board shorts. “There really just wasn’t something I felt comfortable with her in,” Alexander said in an interview with Breakfast Television earlier this year.

Unsatisfied with this solution and frustrated with the general lack of stylish and functional bathing suit options available for Ruby and the more than 400,000 trans girls across North America, Alexander decided to develop his own. And that’s when Rubies was born.

The brand’s signature product, the Ruby Shaping Bikini Bottom, is made of high-quality compression mesh and spandex and promises to provide support “in all the right places.” The made-in-Toronto bottoms are available in both black and hot pink, and Alexander designed and tested over ten prototypes and connected with more than fifty families to get the bikini bottoms just right (with no fashion industry background, mind you!).

 

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According to Ruby—and the many satisfied customers worldwide—the bottoms ended up just right. “They make me feel really confident and proud about who I am,” she explains. “I really like how, when I wear them, I don’t feel like I’m just a trans girl. I feel like I’m just a regular girl who’s wearing the same bikini bottoms as all my other girlfriends.”

We think it’s totally amazing how practical the bottoms are and how they help kids like Ruby feel inspired and empowered to embrace their authentic identities. And to help even more trans girls do just that, the company raises money through the Every Girl Deserves To Shine campaign so that they can send free bathers to families who can’t afford them.

After seeing how much trans girls loved the briefs, Rubies is back this summer with two new offerings: a cute and comfy tie-up one-piece in black, and form-fitting shaping underwear in soft pink. The underwear became a no-brainer for the brand when customers noted that they were wearing the bikini bottoms under their clothes. Both new items are currently available online for pre-order (at time of publishing, the one-piece is sold out with more coming soon).

While they don’t currently sell bathing suit tops, Alexander says Rubies bottoms can easily be mixed and matched with tops from other swimwear lines.

young girl in a bikini jumping in grassy sand dune

Photo: Courtesy of Jamie Alexander

So what’s next for the brand? Alexander says he hopes to add leggings to the Rubies roster so trans girls can reach for something more form-fitting for activities like gymnastics and dance as opposed to regular baggy sweatpants.

And when it comes to what Ruby thinks of it all, she says her dad is pretty awesome. “I just think it’s amazing that a father would go that far to helping kids like me, and my community. ”

We think so too, Ruby.