Gaffs

Compiled by Mark Hood <hood@eng.sun.com for alt.transgendered newsgroup.
Copyright reserved.

I. Introduction and Disclaimers
II. Motivation
III. Where Do The Testicles Go?
IV. How Do The Testicles Get Up There?
V. How Do The Testicles Stay In Place?
    Gaffing
    Taping
VI. Health Issues

I. Introduction and Disclaimers
The subject of gaffing and tucking one's genitals appears frequently in alt.transgendered, but there aren't usually detailed responses. I'm guessing perhaps others hesitate for the same reason I do: it's a very personal procedure, depending greatly upon one's particular anatomy, and it's hard to describe how one might do it successfully. I decided to put together everything I knew about it into one document, in the hope that it might be useful anyway to read a description of one person's experiences in learning how to perform this procedure.

When I first heard and read descriptions on how to tuck, all of the descriptions were completely different and seemed equally impossible. I fiddled around with various techniques over the course of a year before I really got used to it and could feel comfortable with maintaining the tuck all day. It can be painful if done inexpertly, and there's nothing quite like the feeling of talking to someone at a cocktail party and getting the awful sensation of your left testicle descending into your briefs and creating a bulge through a slim skirt.

I learned basically from two sources. The first was Vernon's of Waltham, MA, which I understand is now defunct. I bought their gaffs, read the directions, looked at the pictures in the catalogue, and talked to Vernon/Greg/Diana whenever I saw him there. The second source was an excellent article written by JoAnn Roberts, which described how to gaff with medical tape. It was posted to alt.transgendered years ago in the form of two scanned GIF images, since it had illustrations. I won't post them again here, since they're 20K binary files, and I don't know the copyright status of JoAnn's articles. If we hear from JoAnn and get a consensus on the acceptability of posting such binaries here, I'll go ahead and post.

That being said, the only way I can describe how to tuck is to describe how I myself do it specifically, and the reader will have to adapt, improvise, and try other people's suggestions. There have been a number of articles posted to alt.transgendered in the past few years about this subject, so if you have access to an archive you might want to do a few searches.

II. Motivation
First of all, why would anyone want to do such a bizarre thing to one's genitals? For some, it is mostly for the sake of appearance: a crotch bulge can really spoil that flawless evening look. Some of the nicest things about dresses, skirts, and women's clothing in general are the lines and curves that one gets from the drape of the fabric over one's body.

A bulge in the wrong place can drastically deform the look, design, and drape of a nicely constructed outfit. On the other hand, with the right sort of tucking, taping, and tolerance for discomfort, it is possible for the normally-endowed male genitals to mostly disappear beneath a woman's bathing suit, and to even go swimming in one.
And then there is just the feeling of having one's male genitalia out of the way; it's almost like a fast, reversible sex-change. I walk and move much more gracefully, and in what feels like a very natural way, when my male genitals aren't hanging out in front of me.

If you're not concerned about the fine points of passing, or you don't wear body-conforming clothing, or your male genitals don't bother you, or you're content with what you're doing now and looking forward to SRS, then there's no need to bother with tucking or gaffing. Many of us just can't do it anyway, so you're in plenty of company.

III. Where Do The Testicles Go?
That is a good question. I thought that most people who tuck got them in the same place, though after reading RuPaul's description I saw that some of us have drastically different ways to do it, or different ideas of what it means. RuPaul seems to describe a method by which the testicles end up between one's legs, which I don't understand at all. I tried it and wasn't able to sit down or even stand comfortably.

The method I use places the testicles in the abdomen. They wind up quite near the surface of the skin, just above and to each side of the base of the penis. The seem to be separated from each other by some sort of muscular wall. They don't go very far up. The testicles form the majority of any bulge that is left over after I tape or gaff; many women who are not completely toned seem to have a similar sort of bulge just above their pubic region, so it looks OK. I'm not sure what it would look like if I were more muscular in that region.

That forms the basis of the two gaffing techniques that I use. To me, the testicles are much more vulnerable to discomfort than the penis; once I get them out of the way I find that the penis can take all sorts of abuse like compression and stretching without a problem. It's really an amazingly resilient organ.

IV. How Do The Testicles Get Up There?
Another good question. Some of us seem to be able to do it easily, some of us get it with practice and patience, some of us are amazed that anybody can do it at all. It took me quite a bit of doing to get the hang of it. A lot of it had to do with overcoming my fear of manipulating my body in such a strange way. My testicles feel soft and vulnerable to me, and I had all sorts of fears that I would crush them or tangle them, or they would go somewhere and never come back out, or that I would do something that was going to cause huge amounts of pain and I'd end up in an emergency room trying to explain how I got into such a predicament.

You basically want to support your testicles with your fingers from underneath and gently push them up past the sides of the base of the penis and into your abdomen. Don't let them slide into the loose parts of the scrotum on the way up. If you are physically capable of doing this, you should be able to locate two openings underneath your skin on either side of the penis that seem to lead into the abdominal cavity. This is near where the scrotum joins the top side of the base of the penis. That's where they go, at least for me. It'll feel really weird until you're used to it. Visually, I end up with two small mounds above and to either side of the penis.

Another way that seems to work for me is to grab the scrotum near its lowest point towards the front with the fingers of both hands and stretch it as far as possible to both sides. Then, bring the scrotum up as if you were trying to cover the penis, letting the testicles fall to the lowest point, which will be the base of the penis. If you're stretching the scrotum with your index fingers and thumbs, you can then use your remaining fingers to gently push the testicles into your abdomen.

Body position can make a big difference. Try it standing up with your legs apart, on your back with your legs elevated, sitting down, squatting, kneeling, on all fours, legs together, whatever seems to help.

V. How Do The Testicles Stay In Place?
Some folks seem to be able to retain their testicles in their abdomens with no problem at all. They just have to tuck their penises between their legs and dress. Some of us, like me, need a tight pair of panties or briefs to keep things in place. Even then, I feel somewhat insecure, and I sometimes experience the cocktail party syndrome I described above. A better solution for me is to use a gaff or tape, though these days I can get away with just a little tape and a tight pair of panties or briefs. Control-top hosiery can also make things a bit more secure.

Gaffing
The gaff that I'm familiar with using is the gaff that Vernon used to make and sell. I liked the leather ones with the lining. It is a long skinny triangle of material, about 5 inches wide at the top and 8 inches to the opposite point. There is an elastic attached in a loop to the top 5 inch side which goes around your waist, and another elastic from the narrow point that goes between your buttocks and joins with the waist elastic, like a G-string. You have to adjust the lengths of the elastic yourself for a firm, secure, but not uncomfortable fit. The top of the triangular material goes beneath the testicles, right above the base of the penis, and the shaft of the penis is held between the legs with the remaining length of the gaff. The pressure of the gaff keeps the testicles from descending.

A gaff can be very secure but if not adjusted right will quickly become torture. I had to pad the elastic with leather at my tailbone to be able to tolerate it for more than an hour or so. Once I got one right I bought two others and sewed them all for the same fit and was pretty satisfied with the results.

Taping
This technique I learned from JoAnn's article and is the one I use most often. I find it very comfortable, secure, and completely invisible under clothing. The disadvantage is that you must completely shave your crotch area to give the tape bare skin to adhere to, and the tape can leave some residue and irritate the skin. The best tape to use that I have found is 3M's Transpore plastic bandaging; it stretches, it's porous, fairly non-irritating, and leaves just a little residue at the edges that can be cleaned up with some alcohol.

I won't go into detail here in the hope that it will be possible to distribute JoAnn's original excellent article. The basic technique is to tuck your testicles as described above, leaving your scrotum as empty skin flaps. To prevent the testicles from descending, you wrap the empty scrotum around the penis base and tape it to form a tube. Additional tape is applied around the base and towards the perineum to reinforce this tube. The skin above the penis base and pubic region is also taped to form a small pocket. Once this is done, the penis can be pushed up into the tube. It is prevented from spilling out of the top of the tube by the tape that was previously applied to form the small pocket above the base of the penis.

If the tube is constructed just right, the penis will just stay inside the tube and be perfectly happy. If the tube is too tight, it will be painful; if it's too loose, the whole deal falls apart. I rarely get it perfect but try to err on the loose end of things, as then I can just stuff the leftover ends of the scrotal tube into itself, and the whole thing stays together with a little bit of pressure from a pair of panties and some hose. Urinating is a simple matter of sitting down, applying a bit of pressure on the pubic region to pop out the penis, and then pushing it back in and securing with underwear when done.

In order to wear more revealing, body conforming outfits, such as high cut body suits or swim wear, you can use additional tape to completely seal off the scrotal tube instead of relying on underwear to contain it. The additional tape can be used to smooth out the area for a very convincing crotch region once it is covered with opaque fabric, and with waterproof tape you could probably even go swimming with it, though I haven't actually tried the latter. You will have a bit of a diffuse bulge or swelling above your pubic region, but not any more than many slightly overweight women. Of course, urinating then becomes a bitch.

VI. Health Issues
I asked my GP about this stuff. She had a few things to say, which I'll share here with the caveat that she was talking specifically about me and my body, and that everybody's first source of information should be their own health care provider. Do not use this informal second-hand information as a basis for any of your health decisions, please.

The testicles are normally outside the body for a good reason: internal body temperature is too warm for the production of viable sperm. Extended periods of tucking one's testicles in the abdomen will likely reduce the potency of the male semen, though of course birth control should still be used in heterosexual relations if pregnancies are not desired. This is likely a short-term effect; infertile males who wore briefs and changed to boxers could sometimes regain their potency. There doesn't appear to be any data on the long-term effects of tucking on fertility.

Some readers of alt.transgendered have asked about any known association between tucking and problems such as hernias or testicular cancer. My GP said she was not aware of any study that looked at the incidence of hernias and testicular cancer amongst people who regularly tucked their genitals, so there may be no data available in this area either.

In regards to cases of testicular cancer associated with undescended testicles, she noted that the body cavities that I use to tuck my testicles are not the regions from which the testicles descend during the normal development of the male genitalia. Normally there is no way for the testicles to return along that path.

Most importantly, she said that the best way to deal with the possibility of testicular cancer was periodic self-examination, the same that you'd do with your breasts. Normally for people my age (35) she performs the examination herself with a full check-up, but she showed me how to do it anyway. Basically you use your fingers to feel the testicles through the scrotum and look for unusual bumps that weren't there the last time you checked.

If this is of concern to you, then it's important that you get your own GP to show you how to do this self-examination properly. Otherwise you won't know what normal, healthy testicles should feel like.

For example, the duct that the sperm travel through has a specific lumpy sort of feel where it attaches to the testicle, and that's perfectly normal. Please don't go running to your doctor in a panic about testicular cancer because something you read on Usenet makes you think your testicles feel weird. Testicles are weird organs.


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Last Modified 19 Jan 2002