sensible summertime

If You’re Transitioning From Male to Female, You Must Wear Your Bikini Top at the Beach

Say what you will about the dress codes at beaches and public places, but in American society, there are a certain set of rules governing proper decorum at public non-nude sandy escapes, and they involve ladies wearing their bathing suit tops. That includes ladies who used to be men.

Lifeguards in Rehoboth Beach — Delaware’s (only?) gay destination) — called in the fuzz when a group of MTF transgender beach-goers refused to put their tops on, according to Rehoboth Weekend Update. According to “one police source,” at least two of the individuals had female breasts, from implants or hormones, but still had their male genitalia.

“We have like a bit of an odd problem,” a lifeguard said over the radio. “There are girls on our beach without tops. Well apparently they are transgender and they have female breasts and a [incomplete sentence]. We tried to tell them to put shirts on and they told us they are transgender so that it’s illegal to discriminate and I just had a problem with it and that’s where we’re at right now.”

And while the police didn’t issue any citations (they managed to convince the gals to put their tops on), a quick look at the city’s sunbathing rules, established in 1974 and amended since, might clear things up. Or confuse things more.

§ 198-12 Indecent exposure.
[Amended 8-13-1993 by Ord. No. 893-2]

A. A male is guilty of indecent exposure if he exposes his genitals or buttocks under circumstances which he knows his conduct is likely to cause affront or alarm to another person.

B. A female is guilty of indecent exposure if she exposes her genitals, breasts or buttocks under circumstances which she knows her conduct is likely to cause affront or alarm to another person.

Editor’s Note: Former § 11-56, Wearing apparel, amended 7-11-1975 by Ord. No. 775-1, was repealed 7-11-1980 by Ord. No. 780-2.

§ 198-13 Topless bathing suits prohibited.

No female over the age of five years shall wear a topless bathing suit or otherwise fail to cover her breasts with less than a full opaque covering of any portion thereof below the upper portion of the nipple.

§ 198-14 Disrobing in public.
[Amended 6-16-2008 by Ord. No. 0608-02]

No person shall disrobe under the boardwalk, on the beach or in any vehicle while such vehicle is parked upon any public street or way or other public place in plain view of the public. Any violation of this section is declared a civil offense pursuant to Chapter 126 of the Municipal Code of the City of Rehoboth Beach.

This seems to be the reverse of the situation faced by folks like Dominic Scaia, a FTM post-op fella who published photos and videos of his breast-free chest to Facebook and YouTube only to see them taken down.

So what general rules should we follow? If you’re transgender and transitioning (or have fully completed changing) to the other gender, follow the rules polite society has in place for that sex. If you’re female-to-male and had your breasts removed, flash that bare chest till you’re sunburned. If you’re male-to-female and weren’t born with breasts but had a surgeon give you a nice cup size, then show them off — with a cute top.

As for biological men with man-boobs, well, most cities say they can go without coverings. Take it up with your councilman.

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  • Dave

    Perhaps the real lesson here is that the sexist taboos about bare female breasts are silly and outdated.

    There’s really no logical reason that unclad male torsos are ok but unclad female torsos are scandalous. Neither are genitalia. Why the difference?

    Answer: the (heterosexual) male gaze. (Straight) men like looking at naked boobs. And they don’t like other men looking at the naked boobs of “their” wimmenfolk. And they fear that looking at naked boobs can lead to, I dunno, human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria. And they wrote the laws.

    They simply don’t care about male flesh and its potential to cause titillation (lol, titillation) in women and gay dudes.

    And thus we get saddled with a ridiculous taboo that makes about as much sense, once you think about it rationally, as Victorians putting wee little skirts on table legs.

    In an age where transgenderism, of various types and stages, is more common and accepted–and where obese dudes are possessed of some pretty impressive cleavage themselves–the line between ok-boy-boobs and not-ok-girl-boobs has gotten pretty blurry. Blurry enough to make the whole taboo seem awfully silly.


    They need to make a choice and stick with it. If you decide to proclaim you are female, you gotta adhere to the same rules that other females have to. Based on the fact that they have actual breasts, it seems they wish to identify as female. You can not pick and choose which gender specific rules you wish to adhere to. If other females are not allowed to go topless (which is so damm silly) they need to not demand to be allowed to exhibit their breasts. They are asking that people respect them for living life in the gender they feel they were born with. Actions like what they did on that beach do nothing but make their acceptance harder to achieve……………

  • Joseph

    Here in Ontario woman are legally allowed to walk around topless in any public place. Most do not if any at all.

  • Jon B

    Couldn’t agree more with Plays Well With Others… this is silly. There are rules… whether you agree with them or disagree with them, they exist. To call discrimination when an authority figure is just enforcing the same laws that apply to everyone is irritating and juvenile… It would be one thing if the life guards or cops used derogatory language or were mocking them in some way, but this report doesn’t even hint at that.

  • hardvice

    @Jon B: I think the difference here is that these ladies can do a lot to point out how silly and broken the rules are. If they haven’t legally changed their gender yet–and let’s not forget, that’s not even possible or practical everywhere yet–then they’re in the clear, legally.

    It might not have been their intention, but they’re pointing out the flaws in our binary thinking about gender and the inherent futility of trying to use the law to enforce pointless cultural taboos.

    Sometimes the only way to get rid of bad laws–particularly the ones that don’t get enforced much–is to break them. Seven years ago, it was perfectly legal for states to outlaw same-sex sodomy, laws which were almost never enforced but which nevertheless made gays and lesbians into de facto criminals. Had everybody chosen to play by the rules, that’d still be the law today.

    Is this anywhere near the same thing? Well, no, of course not, but discriminatory laws are discriminatory laws, and unless they’re challenged, they don’t change.

    That they’re not being discriminated against because they’re trans, but rather because they’re women, doesn’t make matters any better.

  • jeffree

    Wait! Why do girls above the age of 5 have to wear tops? Because they have nipples that will in several years become actual breasts ?

    That seems, so Victorian, so 19th century! And creepy…What scary minded lawmaker gets freaked out by a 6 year old girl without her nips covered?

    Those laws also miss out on specifics of what percentage of the female breasts needs to be covered. Some women barely cover little more than the umm “colorful portion of they breasties” (sorry Aunt Taffy, but REALLY…it’s getting to be too much !!)

    The laws don’t take in to consideration the trans people, and yeah, that should change. Maybe its because I’m not str8, but MOOBS are more a bother to me than anything but I’m sure that no legislator wants to tackle THAT eyesore !

  • Bill Perdue

    “So what general rules should we follow?”

    How about this one: keep this bizarre trannie crap off of Queerty. None of it has anything to do with gay people. I joined the gay community, not the circus.

  • Keith

    @Bill Perdue: Maybe it doesn’t have to do with gay people per se, but transgender people are considered “queer”…and this website is called Queerty, so it would make sense for this site to report on transgender news. We are all part of the GLBT community and that includes both gay and transgenders.

  • ChrisM

    @Bill Perdue:

    Get your head out of your ass, Bill. Enough with yours and others’ transphobic comments. Do you realize there’s some straight people out there now calling you and your past and present relationships a “circus?” You should be ashamed to sound just like them.

    It’s LGBT for a reason. Not because lesbian=gay=bisexual=transgender. It’s because we all face unfair discrimination, for complicating gender and sexual norms for a majority that would rather see itself as a totality. Even though you’re a G or B, you’re just as bad as any homophobe out there if you dismiss the T’s so heartlessly. In fact, as a G or B you’d be worse for doing so.

    That being said, I don’t think what happened on this beach is transphobic as much as it is sexist.

  • Lookyloo

    While important and interesting issues, the article isn’t about social taboos or outdated societal norms. The transgendered people in the story acted poorly. For them to claim discrimination is completely ridiculous and mocks actual discrimination. Jerks.

  • Adrian

    I’ve always found sunbathing beach rules to be a bit outdated and lacking reasoning.

    You want to show your skin at the beach then show it. You don’t want to show skin then cover it up. Why shame our anatomy? The body is an wonderful instrument.

    Who should one speak to in order to amended our city’s sunbathing rules?

  • Jocaine

    @Bill Perdue: fuck you too, douchebag.

  • JaredNorthcutt30

    So Queerty promotes gender norms when it comes to female toplessness, but not when it suits gay white male’s inversion of the gender paradigm. Misogyny, much?

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