Urbody is a trans- and queer women-owned team that’s all about helping our community feel safe and seen by providing gender-affirming base layers. We aim to help give a voice to our trans and gender non-conforming community at every level, including when it’s needed most.
When Fabletics, Yitty’s parent company, ordered a full size run of our compression tops in April of 2022, it signaled to us that they were planning to enter the gender-affirming clothing space — where we’ve been dedicated for several years.
We were encouraged: A brand with the reach of Fabletics and the platform of Lizzo could have the potential for tremendous impact on the needs of trans and gender non-conforming people, especially for all body types, shapes, and sizes. Urbody’s mission has always been to help human beings get dressed with confidence, starting with what’s underneath — and we welcome more options and avenues for doing that. As a small company with limited reach and resources, and with the awareness that Black and Brown trans women are the most targeted members of our community, we were excited by the potential to see our community have a meaningful seat at the table with a brand represented by Lizzo and her powerful, vital message of racial and size inclusivity.
We reached out to Fabletics last year, after they placed that first order, with the hope that we could learn from each other’s experiences — and understand how they might be committed to developing products with trans fashion experts at the core of a line ostensibly aimed at our community. We didn’t hear back. It was only in early 2023, after the Fabletics team placed another order — this time for an assortment of our tucking garments — that we heard back. We wrote to them about our story, the heart and soul that we’ve put into building our company in partnership with other trans folks, and our sincere hope that a large brand wasn’t attempting to profit off of our community’s hard work without proper recognition or collaboration. When we finally got a meeting to discuss their line, we expected to see our community represented on the team — but we did not. After that meeting, we followed up multiple times with a proposal for how we could partner but were largely ignored and brushed off — despite the Yitty team previously sharing that trans community insight was a gap for them and a key learning opportunity.
With the announcement of “Your Skin” by Yitty last week, we’re left feeling disappointed, hurt, and taken advantage of. Your Skin announced itself with strikingly similar creative, copy, and designs as Urbody, from the name to the products. But our disappointment isn’t primarily rooted in feeling copied, it’s coming from the reality that the trans community, time and time again, is overlooked and marginalized — even when we have valuable experiences, talents, and expertise to contribute. As large companies continue to wade into the LGBTQ+ (and specifically trans/non-binary) market as an opportunity for growth, we become increasingly concerned that these business efforts will be made without properly centering and compensating our community. And if we don’t speak up about this now, we worry that many other trans and gender non-conforming people will be similarly exploited.
Trans people need systemic and structural support now more than ever. Growing awareness for trans needs has allowed us to become recognized as a group that deserves equal rights and access, but visibility without adequate protection and involvement further puts us in danger. Businesses need to do their part to fight for us — and include us in leadership — before they attempt to profit off of us.
If Yitty and Fabletics are going to make trans folks the face of the Your Skin line, the trans community should be the backbone — whether that’s the Urbody team or other trans experts. We think Yitty has gotten a lot of things right, from amplifying Lizzo’s platform to prioritizing size inclusivity — which makes it all the more disappointing to see this opportunity undercut by our experience. We admire Lizzo and how she’s been an advocate for inclusion, and we believe she’d be empathetic and aligned with us if she knew this backstory. We want to bring this matter to her attention. And more importantly, we want to stand up for trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people everywhere who deserve better.