A Dad, Inspired by His Trans Daughter, Designs Swimsuits to Make Her and Other Children Feel Comfortable and Safe
A father’s love for his kid can be so powerful that he manage to venture into an unknown world. This is exactly what Jamie Alexander did when he began to design swimsuits that would make his transgender child feel comfortable and practical while swimming and doing gymnastics. This love and dedication are now reflected in his brand, RUBIES, which exports bikinis for transgender girls all over the world.
Bright Side wants to share the story of Jamie, who, when he couldn’t find cute and comfortable swimsuits for his daughter Ruby on the market, decided to get involved and learn how to make them.
How it all came about
According to Jamie, Ruby began to have a preference for things that weren’t culturally expected for the sex she had at birth at the age of 3 — she enjoyed wearing high heels, dancing to Disney and Beyoncé videos, and feeling like a princess. He and his wife then joined a support group, set up by the Toronto public school system, and provided a safe space for her to find out if she identified as male — the gender she was assigned at birth — or female, or neither.
When Ruby turned 11, she asked her parents if she could wear a bikini, like other girls. Determined to please their daughter, they bought her “normal” bikinis, which initially worked well for her.
And during a family trip to an unfamiliar country, they pondered how accepted Ruby would be while wearing a bikini on the beach.
Jamie noticed that the fashion industry was offering trans girls a very pronounced bikini bottom, with thick pads in the front that didn’t look normal. What the girl wanted was cute bikinis to wear to the beach and to do gymnastics while feeling comfortable and confident. Her dad was willing to put all his love and care into creating them.
How a software developer turned into a beachwear designer
Following his entrepreneurial spirit, in October 2019, Jamie left his position as CTO at a software company he had founded to start a new business, RUBIES. His mission was to create fitted bikini bottoms for transgender girls and non-binary boys under the age of 14 under the motto, “Every girl deserves to shine.”
His first steps in the fashion biz
He prepared and applied for a scholarship geared toward fashion startup incubators at Ryerson University in Toronto to receive guidance in developing his business. There, he met Olena Vivcharyuk, a local textile engineer, who identified with Jamie’s vision and helped him design and sew the first bikini bottom prototype for RUBIES. Cat, a fashion entrepreneur, eventually joined the team, and they were able to make the first 20 samples.
What their first designs were like
They started by making bikini bottoms that incorporated compression spandex, providing a compact fit, which allowed their customers to feel comfortable doing the same activities as their cisgender friends. They could also wear them as underwear, making them feel much more secure.
Jamie was excited to start testing them and get feedback on his designs. As a member of several Facebook groups for parents with transgender children, he offered, in exchange for their time and feedback, to send them free bikini bottoms in the mail.
The brand is very much a reflection of Ruby herself: fun, bright, and full of positivity and warmth. She is present in all sectors, whether it’s dancing or modeling the products. Jamie’s intention is to focus on the positive stories of trans kids and normalize them so that everyone feels comfortable in their own bodies.
Ruby writes notes to accompany her orders along with the brand’s slogan: “Every girl deserves to shine, thank you for your support. Enjoy the bikini, Jamie and Ruby.” She and her dad want to convey their gratitude for the trust people have in them, along with a message of hope and courage.
A road to new projects: “It is important that families and their children have the opportunity to connect in person.”
As for upcoming projects, Jamie is dedicated to designing a beach towel, a top, and high-waisted bikini bottoms to offer more coverage to those who want it by supporting more body shapes, and Ruby accompanies him with her magic and enthusiasm.
“Over the next year, my mission with RUBIES is to help connect families with like-minded children who are within visiting distance of each other. I am planning to create a searchable map of local LGBTQ+ support groups, particularly those that offer containment to children and their parents. I have a project called RUBIES Friends to connect parents and children, so they can meet in person locally.”
Advice for parents with trans children
Jamie doesn’t have all the answers, but he has been able to learn together with his wife by allowing their daughter to guide them. “Follow your children’s lead, ultimately, you have to provide a supportive and holding environment from love to get the best results with them.”
The story of Ruby and her family is a clear example of how love and understanding can make anything possible. Do you know of any other inspiring stories to share with us?