Tucking Guide for Trans Femmes, Trans Women & AMAB
“Tucking” refers to several methods of making the groin area appear flatter or smoother. This can be done as a gender-affirming practice to help trans women or fem-identified people feel more comfortable in their gender expression, but tucking is not exclusive to trans people and is common amongst cosplayers, drag entertainers, and other performers as part of their art forms. Tucking is not a requirement to affirm one’s gender, but it is a technique often used by trans femmes, trans women, and people who were assigned male at birth to feel better about their gender presentation.
There are three common methods for tucking: gaffer tape, gaff underwear, and compression underwear. Each of these tucking methods has pros and cons.
- Method 1: Tucking or gaffer tape
- Tucking tape or gaffer tape is a specialty tape meant to be used on the body. You cut 1-3 strips of tape for full coverage, depending on the width of the tape. The length is determined by measuring from the top of your groin, through your legs, to the top of your butt.
- Gaffer tape is commonly used for swimsuits, performing, or any occasion that the wearer would like to have a more secure and seamless fit.
- Gaffer tape is single-use only—simply dispose of it afterward.
- Method 2: Gaff underwear (also called tuckers and gaffs)
- Tuckers or gaffs are a kind of underwear that smoothes and flattens the appearance of the groin. This option is best for daily activities and outings since they’re more flexible and allow for freer movement. Best of all, gaffs are reusable and washable!
- Method 3: Compression underwear
- Compression underwear is a good option for people who don’t want to use gaffing tape and want more compression options than gaff underwear offers.
- Layering elastic underwear is another option for a snug but not-too-tight tuck. Synthetic underwear may cause irritation, so use cotton instead.
Comfort and Safety Tips When Tucking
The most common risk of tucking is skin irritation. Serious side effects are rare and can be prevented by following proper precautions.
Some people find trimming or shaving the groin area can make tucking easier; it helps avoid skin irritation and prevents the tape from pulling your hair. Use shaving cream and a sharp, clean razor, and avoid shaving right before tucking to prevent irritation.
Gaffing tape is the most secure method of tucking; however, it’s best to only use it for a short period since you can’t use the restroom. Avoid using duct tape as it can tear your hair and skin, and cause rashes or irritation. Medical tape is not recommended as it does not stick when wet. Note that using tape can make it difficult or painful to sit.
Since you can’t pee while tucking, use the restroom first. If you expect to be tucking for a few hours, plan breaks that allow enough time to use the restroom and safely re-tuck. If you avoid using the restroom for long periods of time you run the risk of developing urinary tract infections and possible kidney damage.
Stay hydrated! Some people avoid drinking water to avoid going to the bathroom, but going without water for long periods will worsen body discomfort. High activity levels and warm environments can be dangerous if you avoid water. Certain types of HRT are diuretics and already pose a dehydration risk—avoiding water while tucking can be really harmful.
Tucking can be a little uncomfortable, but it should never be painful. If you’re in pain, take time to re-adjust. Keep it to 8 hours or less, and try not to tuck daily to give your body a break. Listen to your body—if you’re experiencing pain, prolonged discomfort, or other issues, even if you’re taking steps to tuck safely, talk to a healthcare provider you trust.
Aftercare is very important to ensure your personal health and sanitation of your tucking garments. Make sure to wash your tucking garments after each use to ensure sanitation. Wearing used tucking garments can lead to UTIs and other hygienic issues if not washed properly.
Use adhesive remover or rubbing alcohol to safely remove gaffing tape or other forms of tape to tuck, to avoid causing irritation or harm when removing the tape. Showering with warm-to-hot water will help soften the adhesive and make removing the tape easier.
Other Tucking Guides
- An End-of-year Message from Trans Lifeline
- Navigating Change: Trans Lifeline Initiaties Restructure for Long-Term Resilience
- End-of-Year Pause in Hotline Operations & New Hours in 2024
- Tucking Guide for Trans Femmes, Trans Women & AMAB
- Is Binding Supposed to Hurt?