What is Tucking?

A Way to Present a More Feminine Appearance in Underwear

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Tucking is a way of disguising the penis and testicles in order to present a more feminine appearance in underwear or under clothing. It, quite literally, involves tucking those body parts between the legs to create a smooth line at the base of the pelvis.

Tucking can help some transgender women feel more comfortable with their bodies or in public places. Crossdressers, transvestites, and drag queens may also tuck to make their genital anatomy appear more feminine.

Tucking is not well researched, but may occasionally be associated with some health risks. At least one case of testicular torsion related to tucking has been reported.

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Terminology

The words penis, scrotum, and testicles are used to describe body parts that may be present on individuals of different gender identities. Although not all individuals with these body parts use those terms, they are used for clarity as these terms are generally well understood.

These body parts may be perceived as masculine by the person who has them or by others observing them. In fact, that is why people tuck. However, to describe these body parts as "male" or "masculine" is incorrect. Anatomy does not have an inherent gender.

How Tucking Works

Tucking is a multi-part process designed to create a flat appearance. The testicles are gently pushed into the parts of the body known as the inguinal canals. (This is the part of the body they descend from). Then the scrotum is wrapped around the penis, and the penis is tucked between the legs and secured there.

The penis can be secured with tape, underwear, or a special type of garment known as a gaff. A gaff is basically compression underwear, which is designed to hold things in place. Gaffs come in various cuts, just like other types of underwear.

When using a gaff or other underwear to tuck, it is important that it fits correctly. The garment should be tight enough to hold things in place without being uncomfortable to wear. It may help to try different options to find out what works best for you.

Tucking Safety

There are two basic areas of safety that need to be considered when tucking—skin health and the health of the body parts being tucked. Duct tape and other adhesives not designed for use on the skin should never be used directly on the skin.

Products such as trans tape, which are designed for skin use, are a safer option, as are using a gaff or pair of underwear. Whatever product is used to tuck should be breathable and firm enough to hold things in place without being tight enough to damage blood flow.

When tucking, it is important to be gentle with your body parts and to stop if you experience pain. Twisting can potentially damage the blood flow to the area and cause injury, although injuries from, and complications of, tucking are rare.

When you are finished tucking, you should gently guide your testicles back into the scrotum and make certain that your skin is clean and dry.

Tucking should not be painful, although it may be uncomfortable until a person gets used to it. If you are experiencing pain when tucking or trying to tuck, it is important to stop.

If the pain continues, reach out to your medical doctor. Any lasting symptoms of tucking should be discussed with your doctor. Swelling or heat in the scrotum may require immediate medical attention.

A Sticky Situation

If you are going to tuck with tape rather than using an undergarment, it is a good idea to first remove the hair on the area you will be tucking. If you don't, removing the tape can rip out hair, which can be quite painful.

If you do get hair stuck in tape, or tape stuck to skin, sometimes using a damp washcloth to soak the area can help.

Tucking and Healthcare

Tucking isn't a medical issue, but people who tuck regularly may want to discuss the practice with their physician in order to monitor their skin and other health.

One thing that individuals who tuck in public may want to consider is the ease of using the bathroom. Transgender and other gender-nonconforming people who are worried about using the bathroom in public places because of fear of stigma or harassment are known to be at higher risk of kidney and urinary problems.

When people are new to tucking, or tuck using tape instead of a garment, they may also be reluctant to use the bathroom in case they have difficulty getting everything back in place. Therefore, people who are planning to tuck for a long period of time should practice so that they feel safe and comfortable using the bathroom as needed.

There is almost no research on the health effects of tucking. It is reasonable to hypothesize that individuals who tuck for long period of time might have reduced sperm numbers due to the higher temperature in the testicles when they are tucked inside the inguinal canal.

However, other than a single case report of testicular torsion, there is no literature on negative health effects associated with the practice.

A Word From Verywell

One thing that can make a big difference in ease and comfort of tucking is having a properly fitting gaff. However, these garments are not always accessible to all individuals, for financial and other reasons.

Individuals who are looking for a gaff and can not afford one should consider reaching out to their local LGBT center or one of the companies who make gaffs.

Companies and organizations will sometimes have donation programs that allow low-income transgender individuals to get garments like gaffs (and binders) for no or little cost. These programs have been started out of a recognition that transgender people are potentially at risk of a number of consequences of minority stress.

When appropriate garments, such as gaffs, can help transgender and other gender diverse people address gender dysphoria and feel safer in the world, improving access is also a way to enhance equity and justice.

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  1. Epps T, McCormick B, Ali A, et al. From tucking to twisting; A case of self-induced testicular torsion in a cross dressing male. Urol Case Rep. 2016;7:51-52. doi:10.1016/j.eucr.2016.04.002

  2. Hardacker CT, Baccellieri A, Mueller ER, et al. Bladder health experiences, perceptions and knowledge of sexual and gender minorities. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019;16(17):3170. doi:10.3390/ijerph16173170