It’s finally summer, and between all the rain and fog we have been having some incredibly hot and humid days. For many folks, these are days we shed our spring sweaters and flock to the water to cool off. Besides sunscreen, large water bottles, and sunhats, what are some LGBTQ+ specific safety tips you might be thinking about?
Physical activities such as hiking and swimming can be especially challenging for folks who bind their chest or wear other constrictive, gender-affirming, clothing. Some swimsuits are made especially for binding, but besides those, it can be harmful to exercise or swim in a binder. If you feel comfortable wearing a sports bra or a baggy shirt, that is safer than a binder. Rashguards are shirts made for surfing, and provide sun protection and often gentle compression. TransTape is also a great option for swimming! Bikini bottoms made from a compression material such as Lycra or spandex, or even buying a swimming gaff can be a safe option for transfeminine people.
For individuals of any gender, swimsuit season can bring on feelings of dysphoria and dysmorphia. Gender dysphoria is when someone experiences psychological distress due to incongruence between their gender identity and their sex assigned at birth. This can manifest in different ways for different people, but often looks like anxiety, an intense desire to change their body (especially gendered body parts), and a feeling of being “stuck” in the wrong body. The focus with dysphoria is the painful tension between one’s sex assigned at birth and one’s gender identity. Body dysmorphia is a pervasive feeling that one’s body or specific body parts are “wrong”, and can be experienced by any person regardless of their gender. While some of the feelings are similar, dysphoria is related to the gender while dysmorphia is related to the body. One way to manage these intense feelings during the summertime is to identify a trusted adult/peer that you can go to when you are feeling overwhelmed. Having a support person can make a big difference because you can let out some of the things you are thinking in your head. Sometimes you may find yourself in a situation where you cannot change parts of your body that you would like to, but trying to surround yourself with affirming people is a great way to move through difficult waves of emotion.