I love working out — my anxious thoughts quiet down, I’m focused on my body’s functions, and after a heavy lifting session, my body looks the way I like it best: muscular and wide-shouldered, and more conventionally “masculine.” I feel so much healthier after a good gym session.
That said, finding comfy workout garb that also reflects my gender is not easy. For me (a white genderqueer average-to-thin-bodied person assigned female whose body needs no visible accommodations to work out), there are two major issues when striving for masculine of center presentation at the gym. First, men’s clothing is not designed to accommodate a body with boobs or hips, even relatively small and narrow ones like mine! Second, mass-produced men’s activewear is overwhelmingly NOT CUTE. Wearing a boxy tank top and long shorts that ride up my buttcrack does not at all make me feel comfortable in my body or gender, so I look for clothing in the women’s section and try to own it.
If you’re facing similar obstacles, I hope these outfit ideas will be helpful to you:
Look #1: Embrace the Stretch
I am not a fan of my boobs. Like many MOC folks, I prefer to bind my chest under my favorite t-shirts and button-downs. However, binding in the gym is a bad idea. It’s such a bad idea that I still try it every once in awhile to remind myself how bad it is. Passing out under a barbell is not a good look!
The way I deal with potential chest dysphoria at the gym may seem counterintuitive: I wear the stretchiest, most unsupportive sports bra I can get away with (a low-impact activity like yoga lends itself best to this technique). Non-constricting pieces like compressionless bottoms and structureless tops help me forget about my body’s secondary sex characteristics, giving my mind the space to relax and feel my body’s breath, elongations, and contractions. When I’m feeling extra self-conscious about my chest, I throw on a loose unisex tee — ideally one made of soft, quick-drying fabric.
Look #2: Sporty Streetwear
Not all workouts require head-to-toe sweat-wicking technology. The air-conditioned climbing gym I visit is perfect for sporting MOC items that I also wear out and about, like my denim cutoffs, but any of your favorite bottoms will do as long as they let your little leggies move! Joggers are another staple for these situations.
The tank top pictured here is from Doughnuts & Deadlifts, started by addiction recovery advocate Krissy Mae Cagney and influenced by amazing trans athlete/Cagney’s BFF Chloie Jönsson. D&D donated profits from this extremely popular pride design to Equality Nevada.
Look #3: A Boi Can Dream
If I could go on a shopping spree right now, I would snatch up a couple pairs of the Ranger shorts from Doughnuts & Deadlifts. I believe strongly in the power of short shorts for every gender presentation, and the model’s legs in the sample picture are very aspirational for me! I’ve also heard that men’s tops from Lululemon are almost worth the money (the color of this one is called “heathered bordeaux drama”). Throw in some sick high top socks and I’m ready to hit a PR — or just take a bunch of locker room selfies.
Fellow MOC folx, what are you wearing to the gym these days?