I was born in 1996, so discussions about being transgender were pretty much non-existent during my formative years. Nevertheless, I always felt like a boy. My mom recently told me that even in nursery, I rejected my older sister’s very girly hand-me-downs, opting to wear conventionally masculine clothing instead.
Growing up, coming out
Before turning 12 and entering high school, I embraced freedom of expression. I dressed in ‘boys’ clothing’, played various sports, enjoyed cars, motorbikes, football and generally hung out with the boys, who always treated me like one of them.
High school confronted me with societal norms, causing a surge of insecurity. Wanting to fit in, I tried to be as girly as I could. I quit football, styled my hair differently and even altered my mannerisms and gait.
I did this until I was 21 and met my girlfriend, Kyra. By this point, I knew I was transgender. I’d known since I was 18 and first learned what the word was, but I refused to accept it. Kyra unknowingly encouraged me to be myself and after about a year, I confided in her. She was incredible and supported me in every way.
Soon after, I told my very supportive sister and then my parents. Despite our closeness, I was so nervous to tell them – I couldn’t fathom how it might change our relationship or affect their lives. Deep down, I believed they would accept me, but worried it might change their relationships with their own more traditional families. Transitions are seldom discussed within traditional Indian communities and if they are, they’re rarely met with open-mindedness, at least in my experience.
My parents were perfect and nothing but supportive, informing both sides of the family, who have also shown their support. Even my dad’s elderly parents treat me exactly the same.
We’re yet to inform my mom’s parents, due to uncertainties regarding their reactions. COVID-19 has played a part too, but this means I haven’t seen my mom’s family for around 3 years. This has had its tough moments, as I’m very family orientated and we used to be pretty close. I don’t dwell on it, though, as the support from my immediate family and friends is more than sufficient and serves as daily inspiration to make a positive impact within the LGBTQIA+ community.
Launching Casual Reign
During my transition, I discovered packing boxers. I loved the idea and knew they would provide me with immense gender euphoria. However, every reputable brand was located overseas. My dysphoria used to be crippling and having to pay extortionate shipping fees for something I already hated myself for needing, intensified my discomfort.
This lack of access to gender-affirming products in the UK encouraged me to launch Casual Reign early in 2023. Based in Birmingham, UK, we specialise in packing boxers and packers.
Whilst working full-time, I spent year and a half preparing to launch the new venture. When we were ready to go, I stepped down from the business I previously co-owned, choosing to focus my knowledge and experience on Casual Reign.
I designed the boxers myself, because as a transgender man, I know what people who “pack” need. It’s a running joke within the trans community that packers often slip down people’s legs. For this reason, I designed the boxers with a button-secured, inside pocket for enhanced packer security. The design ensures that the button is hidden within the boxer fabric to minimise sensory issues and discomfort from rubbing.
Once the design work was ready, I sent them to the manufacturer – someone I connected with whilst working in my previous business. After many online meetings to get the details agreed, the manufacturing process began.
A lot of packers on the market were extremely large, creating an unrealistic bulge from the outside, so I wanted to create an alternative. Our packers are simple and give a realistic look when placed inside underwear. Perfecting the design took a lot of trial and error and was inspired by socks!
I believe socks create a relatively realistic look inside underwear, so the design emulates the shape they create. The packers have ample stuffing at the bottom, but are designed to minimise bulkiness at the top. This has reduced the unrealistic appearance often seen in other packers.
Kyra has experience in fashion and textiles, so she created a sample for me, which we then sent to our manufacturer. Again, after multiple online meetings, they began the manufacturing process.
Whilst the manufacturer worked on bringing my designs to life, I began to build an online presence for Casual Reign. I knew the basics of how to do this from my previous business, so I set up a Facebook and Instagram page and began sharing images relevant to the LGBTQIA+ community. This slowly began to build our following and once our boxers and packers arrived, the rest was history.
The feedback we’ve received has surpassed my wildest dreams; I couldn’t be happier with the brand we’ve created.
Helping the community
Casual Reign is a project that allows me to help people in my community, so each month, we donate a portion of profits to various LGBTQIA+ charities, whether they’re large organisations, or private Go Fund Me pages.
I also created a podcast called The Casual Lounge, featuring conversations with individuals at various stages of their gender journeys. The goal is to provide insight, raise awareness, educate and foster a community of people who understand one another, by sharing real stories regarding gender. Having discovered my own identity through online content, I hope listeners can relate and learn more about their own identities.
If you’re reading this article, I hope you know that you are only ever supposed to be yourself. Embrace your uniqueness, work hard and follow your dreams. The right people will stand by you and everything will fall into place. Good luck!