Gaffs 101: Tucking Safely and Comfortably
For many trans femme folks, wearing a gender-affirming undergarment is important for our identity, comfort, and safety. Gaffs are one such item!
I’m Rae Hill, and I own and run Origami Customs. I run a customized and handmade line of swimwear, lingerie, and more for folks of all genders. I offer people of any size, shape, age, ability and gender expression a safe way to have customized items that meet their needs. I’m also a proud partner of Point of Pride’s Free Trans Femme Shapewear Program!
What is a gaff?
A gaff is, at its most basic, a pair of compression underwear. A gaff is made to be worn either with or without a “tuck” and works to help trans femme folks (or anyone else with a penis*) achieve a flatter, more gender-affirmed look. Amongst many other things, this can help folks fit certain clothing designs (like swimwear) in a way that is more comfortable and affirming. For many trans femme folks, tucking is also important to their safety when out in public.
What style of gaff is best?
This is based on personal preference. Many folks like the cut of a hipster-style gaff, as it’s a more modest cut that offers a higher level of compression – perfect for everyday wear and helping you just feel great about your body or reflection.
- No matter what tucking garment you pick, if you do tuck, make sure the fabric is tight and thick enough to hold everything together discretely, yet thin enough to feel comfortable and breathable beneath your clothing.
- Things may be uncomfortable, but you should never feel pain. If you ever feel pain, stop and take a break!
How do I measure for a gaff?
Choosing the right size of gaff is just like choosing the right size of regular underwear. Measure around your waist, just above the hips, then be sure to check the seller’s sizing guides to confirm the right size for you. (Don’t go down a size! Tighter is not better.)
What if I don’t have access to/can’t afford a gaff?
You may already be aware of Point of Pride’s awesome Free Trans Femme Shapewear Program, which mails free garments to folks who cannot afford or safely obtain them. Origami Customs proudly works with this program. The gaffs I make for recipients are the hipster gaffs in black. These are customized for size and delivered to people on the waiting list who are in need of them.
And – if you need a garment more urgently while you’re waiting for a donation, you can always substitute a gaff for a tighter pair of regular underwear or panties. As long as the fabric is not too loose, not too tight – you can still feel more affirmed and comfortable!
- A swimsuit bottom makes a good alternative for a gaff.
- You can also use panties made of tightly woven Spandex or a microfiber blend.
- Stay away from silk. Natural fibers can be “slippery” and can cause things to move once you have them in place, which can be uncomfortable.
- Cotton is a great material for breathability and price, but has a tendency to stretch out and lose its shape over time.
About Origami Customs
As a non-binary queer femme with a trans masculine partner, I care deeply about the needs of the community, which is why I offer completely customizable items for people across the gender spectrum. A large part of what I do is to make gaffs for trans femme folks! As far as I know, I’m the only person making gaffs with no size limits, and with customized sizing. They come in seven styles and six colors. As well, folks ordering directly from me can have any item made as a gaff, for free.
I’m so happy to be bringing these gaffs to folks who face access barriers, as many trans femmes have more boundaries to stable work and housing, along with other systemic barriers. It’s just one part of my Community Program, which aims to recognize the needs of my community and blur the lines between what it means to be a business or a community support organization. I recognize that purchasing ethically and from a fair wage company is sometimes unaffordable, and so I work to bring these products to everyone.
- Point of Pride’s Guide to Tucking
- HealthLine: How Does Tucking Work and Is It Safe?
- Buzzfeed: All The Questions You Had About Tucking, But Were Afraid To Ask
Note: This asterisk (*) is used to acknowledge the many different words that are used for this body part.