Toronto dad Jamie Alexander knows that shopping for kids isn't always easy, which is why he and his 12-year-old daughter Ruby created a line of swimwear for transgender girls to help them feel more comfortable and confident every day. "Everything I saw was heavily branded just to trans people and had a quilted pad in the front. They didn't look like normal bikinis," Jamie said in an interview with Today, pointing out the limited clothing market for transgender and gender creative children. "I wanted to create a garment that looks and feels like a regular bikini and a brand that resonates with kids, not just trans kids."
The idea for the form-fitting clothing line came to Jamie while their family was packing for a trip to Panama one year ago. In an effort to create swimwear that would allow Ruby to enjoy all the same activities as her friends while still feeling comfortable, Jamie interviewed 50-60 families of transgender girls online to see what he could do to help. With the help of Ryerson University's tech start-up incubator The DMZ, Jamie designed the Ruby Shaping Bikini Bottom.
"Above all, we are here to ensure that every trans girl has the freedom to be who she is, wherever she is — and to shine."
Available in kids sizes 4-24, the spandex bikini bottoms are made with soft compression material that "provides worry-free comfort and helps keep everything in place," according to the Rubies website. Once they were available, it wasn't long before Jamie learned that families were buying the comfortable bikini bottoms as underwear for their kids, inspiring him to expand the swimwear collection to include a pair of cotton underwear — in sizes 4-20 — that's more functional for everyday use.
"We know firsthand the challenges of transitioning facing both the girls and their families," the Rubies website reads. "So we are also here to support: to encourage conversations and share experiences, to connect and make new friends, to give each other courage when we feel a little short on it. Above all, we are here to ensure that every trans girl has the freedom to be who she is, wherever she is — and to shine."
In addition to providing comfort and security, Rubies hopes to spark an open dialogue around shared experiences in the transgender community and ensure that transgender girls everywhere are heard. "[The bikini bottoms] make me feel really confident and proud of who I am," Ruby said in an interview on CBC Metro Morning in May. "I'm really grateful that [my dad] is doing this because I think there's a lot of trans girls out there who, when they wear a bathing suit, they feel judged by people who see them wearing it. And I'm really, really happy that my dad is making this because it's gonna save a lot of trans girls and I think they're gonna feel more comfortable and happy."
Proceeds from T-shirts available on the site (in both adult and kids' sizes) will go to the Every Girl Deserves to Shine campaign, inspired by the brand's motto "every girl deserves to shine," to support trans girls nationwide. Additionally, families in need can request free swimwear by filling out an application on the site and will be served on a first come, first served basis. See Ruby explain the inspiration behind the swimwear line ahead, and shop the functional and comfortable Rubies products here.