"I Think You Should Leave": The Only Shirt With A Tugging Knob and The Transmasculine Circle Jerk
Previously: Honk if you’re horny.
I’m trans and I’m indoors all the time, and while that’s not an inherently uncomfortable situation (and nor is being trans synonymous with a state of discomfort), I do find myself thinking often of trans-particular types of discomfort. Not trans-specific, nor universally trans, necessarily. And I think of how this discomfort can often become a source of joy, of pleasure, of connection, of multiplicity, and I think of how Tim Robinson’s “I Think You Should Leave” has perhaps the loveliest representation of a transmasculine circle jerk I’ve ever seen.
It’s the only shirt with a tugging knob.
A person on T for the first time might experience a new relationship to forwardness, in the increasingly forward-settling deposit of body fat, in the increased mental and physical awareness of what is often euphemistically referred to as bottom growth. One might find this new sense of forwardness and this increased awareness — if one experiences it at all — thrilling, intimidating, surprising, embarrassing, distracting, shameful, pleasurable, discomfiting, unattractive, stylish, affirming, distressing, powerful, relentless, unmanageable, or any combination of the above, or none.
The TC Tuggers ad opens during an episode of River Mountain High, where Principal S (Robinson) interrupts a pair of cool, concerned teens whispering intently in the hallway and reminds them to get to class.
COOL TEEN #1: “That’s a cool shirt.”
PRINCIPAL S: “Yeah, it’s a TC Topp from TC Tuggers, the only shirt that’s got a little knob on the front so you can just pull it out when it gets trapped on your belly.”
COOL TEEN #2: “It’s very cool.”
PRINCIPAL S: “Yeah, I was doing this all the time, and the wear and tear was wrecking all my regular shirts. But TC Tuggers has this little knob on the front so you don’t wreck your shirt, or hurt your hand.”
COOL TEEN #2: “Yeah, that makes sense.”
PRINCIPAL S: “Yeah, you know what I mean? Because when you go through the day, your shirt gets kind of bunched up, so I was wrecking my shirts ‘cause I was pulling them out subconsciously, but this has that knob, so you can just do it easily.”
COOL TEEN #2: “Awesome. Well, we’ll get to class.”
PRINCIPAL S: “But they’re not a joke.”
COOL TEEN #1: “What?”
PRINCIPAL S: “You don’t make jokes about ‘em, TC Tuggers. You don’t wear ‘em as a joke, you don’t give ‘em as a joke gift, or wear them ironically, or do pub crawls in ‘em like the Snuggie. They’re not like the Snuggie.”
COOL TEEN #1: “Do they come in other styles?”
PRINCIPAL S pauses and takes a long, desperate drink of water. “Not really.”
Then: “Well, thanks for telling us about the shirt.”
Principal S bears all the hallmarks of an embarrassed man. He speaks rapidly, clarifies often, requests and demands reassurance, drinks water eagerly and at inopportune moments, gestures too intensely and too particularly to come off as either collected or relaxed.
A TC Topp is a shirt for someone making constant adjustments, for someone constantly reorienting themselves in relationship to the front of their body, for someone seeking reassurance about the act of fussing/pulling/smoothing/releasing, for someone seeking relief from the fear of looking ridiculous by pursuing unanimity, synchronization, boisterousness, enthusiasm. Four men face forward and tug together, pausing often to high-five one another.
Tugging is transformed from act of compulsion into a shared, stylish gesture. Utility becomes sophistication. Discretion and furtiveness become emphasis; the possibly-ridiculous becomes robust, active, generous. Through repetition, a small gesture is sustained into a series of loops. The too-big and the too-small are incorporated equally into movement. The question of whether this is available in other styles remains open, is not fully foreclosed upon: Not really is not the same thing as No. Admitting one doesn’t know everything is not the same thing as denying the possibility exists. There was a problem with the other shirts — the solution is getting a new shirt without blaming or denying the body; the solution is wearing clothes that highlight what one might otherwise seek to conceal. It’s the only shirt of its kind, but it’s available in multiple locations.
“No, yeah, the style is just…is just basically this.”
“Well, thanks, Principal S.”
“Yeah. Yeah, thanks you, for asking about the shirt, and thinking it’s cool, TC Tuggers.”