A father-daughter duo in Toronto, Canada has created a swimsuit line that aims to help young trans girls feel confident.
Meet Jamie and Ruby Alexander, the duo behind RUBIES, a fashion label that specializes in swimsuits for transgender and non-binary girls.
It all started when Jamie and his family went on a vacation in Panama. Jamie, who has been told by his transgender daughter Ruby that she “just want[s] to wear a bikini bottom like all [her] other friends,” then searched all over the place for one.
“I basically looked around like pretty much everywhere. I bought everything that is possibly there and found that there is a real missing item or a group of people that really weren't served well with the clothing that was out there,” he shared with CBC Radio Metro Morning.
According to a survey by Centers for Disease Control, between 1-3% of adolescents and teens identify as transgender or non-binary. “That's a large number of kids, we’re talking 3 to 400,000 kids that are out there that really are not served currently. There's not a brand and a line of clothing that really speaks to them,” explained Jamie.
As a businessman himself, he found this as an opportunity not only for his daughter, but for children who are struggling with the same concerns as Ruby.
Breaking gender stereotypes
And so, Jamie joined Fashion Zone, a fashion startup incubator at Ryerson University in Toronto, and together they created RUBIES. “My hope is that RUBIES will further advance diversity in fashion, encourage new conversations and give way to new positive experiences for trans youth,” Jamie said in a press release.
Through RUBIES, they hope to encourage transgender children to express themselves, while still being able to feel safe, and comfortable.
Each pair of swimsuit is made of layers of high-quality compression spandex and mesh that provides support, comfort, and style. Currently, there are three styles available: The Ruby Shaping Bikini Bottom, $44, which comes in US size 4-24, and is available in black and hot pink; The Sky Shaping One-Piece Swimsuit, $51, that comes in US size 4-18; and The AJ Shaping Underwear, $25, which comes in US size 4-20.
My hope is that RUBIES will further advance diversity in fashion, encourage new conversations and give way to new positive experiences for trans youth. — Jamie Alexander
“I feel like I’m just a regular girl”
Ruby, 12, shared how RUBIES has helped her feel like she fits in. “They make me feel really confident and proud about who I am. And 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 like the same bikini bottoms as all of my other girlfriends,” she told CBC Radio.
The pre-teen student also expressed her gratitude towards her father saying, “I'm really grateful that he's doing this because I think there's a lot of trans kids, trans girls out there who, when they wear like a bathing suit, they feel judged by people who see them wearing it.”
She added, “I’m just really really happy that my dad is making this because it's going to save a lot of trans girls and I think they're going to feel more comfortable and happy and they're wearing it.”
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 of my other girlfriends. — Ruby Alexander
But it’s not just the kids who are happy about the products, parents are giving an overwhelming support to the brand, too. One reviewer by the name of Christina said, “This bikini bottom helps my daughter feel like she blends in with cis girls & smoothes her out comfortably! It has given her a huge boost of confidence.”
Another one wrote, “My daughter received her ‘Sky’ one-piece and she loves it!!!! She posed in front of the mirror for about 10 minutes, admiring herself.”
“They’re perfect. She loved her new togs so much she sent me (Grandma) a video of her dancing in them,” said another.
And for customer Emma Burgess, she wishes she’d “found them sooner” “Thank you Rubie and Jamie for making a difference in a little girl's life. I wish I'd found you sooner.”
Because of the overpowering response and support, Jamie and Ruby are giving back. In every order, Ruby puts a handwritten note where she writes inspiring words.
While her father, Jamie, has started a campaign that will further integrate gender and inclusion across their commitments. He plans to send 1,000 bikinis to individuals who cannot afford to buy one. The funds will come from the sales from the “Every girl deserves to shine” t-shirts.
“The goal of the initiative is to empower trans youth and their families, but beyond that, it’s also about inviting new people to be a part of an important movement for fashion diversity,” said Jamie in a statement.