The brand offers bikini bottoms that incorporate compression spandex and mesh to provide a compact fit that enables trans girls to feel comfortable and confident.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on April 19, 2021. It has since been updated.
Ruby Alexander just wanted some good bikini bottoms to wear to the beach. However, the then-11-year-old struggled to find one that fit her properly and wasn't too bulky. Determined to make his daughter feel both comfortable and confident as a transgender girl, Ruby's dad Jamie Alexander set out to solve the problem himself. Today, some years later, the father-daughter duo is at the helm of a game-changing swimwear line that has shipped more than 500 pairs to transgender girls around the world. Their brand, RUBIES, offers bikini bottoms that incorporate compression spandex and mesh to provide a compact fit that enables their customers to feel comfortable doing the same activities as their cisgender friends.
"The response has been amazing," Ruby told CNN. "I am so happy to see all the kids that can get back into enjoying the activities they love, like swimming, dance, and gymnastics." According to Alexander, his daughter was drawn to high heels, Disney princesses and Beyoncé's "Single Ladies" video as early as 3. "She would take a bed sheet and wrap it around her hair, and go up the stairs and throw the sheet down the stairs," the Toronto dad revealed. "This is when 'Tangled' came out. She was always the princess."
However, he and his wife Angela were initially not sure whether Ruby's "gender-creative" preferences meant anything significant about her gender. To understand their daughter better, the couple joined a group established by the Toronto public school system for parents of gender-creative kids. Thanks to the group, they were able to create a safe space for the youngster to figure out if she identified as male—the gender she was assigned at birth—female, or neither. As some of the kids in the group began to transition when Ruby was 8, Alexander told Ruby that she could too, if she wanted to.
Ruby was excited about her dad's offer. She was also impatient to "be a girl" and came out to her entire school soon after. Although some students stared at her or asked questions about her anatomy, many applauded and cheered for her, she said. "That saying where there's a weight and it goes off your shoulder... it felt like that," Ruby explained. As she grew into adolescence, Alexander noticed that trans girls have a glaring issue when it comes to fashion: finding bikini bottoms they can confidently wear in public. "I bought everything I could," he said. "I even got certain things sewed... For Ruby, she didn't like it. It didn't feel like a bikini."
Alexander, an entrepreneur and veteran of the tech startup world, set about designing a bikini that he said both looked and felt like one. "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," he told TODAY Parents. "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." While other bikinis Ruby tried felt bulky, the RUBIES bikini bottoms he designed are made with a sleek and stylish fit in mind.
Today, children who have bought the bikini bottoms wear them as underwear too because they make them feel so much more confident. Alexander now plans to expand the company to include real underwear made with a cotton fabric. "I want to focus on the positive stories about these kids and normalize them," Alexander said. "They're just kids. That's how people need to see them." As for Ruby, she hopes we'll see a day when trans kids can go about their lives without fearing judgment. "I want all girls, and all trans kids, to just feel comfortable about their body," she said.