Lots of people who are transgender, non-binary, or both bind their chest. Binding is a way to make their chest look smaller or flatter. It’s a gender-affirming way people can feel happier with their bodies!
Everyone who wants to bind their chest deserves to do it as safely as possible. Learning about some basic safety tips can help! People can also look for ways of binding that work the best for them.
Why do people bind their chests?
Binding is when people compress their chest to make it look flatter. People bind their chests for lots of different reasons. Trans and non-binary people might bind to help with gender dysphoria. Gender dysphoria is when someone feels stressed or uncomfortable about differences between their body and how they see and express themselves. Binding can help some people relieve some of that feeling.
Binding can be important for trans and nonbinary people. But many people who aren’t trans or non-binary bind their chests. Many trans and non-binary people also don’t bind their chests. People can bind for a lot of reasons, like drag, costumes, and cosplay! Assuming things about someone’s gender or sexuality because they bind can hurt them and support stereotypes.
Chest binding safety
There are lots of different ways that people can bind their chests. The safest way to bind is with a binder or something else that’s made for binding.
If you can’t get chest binders, sports bras can be a safe alternative. You can use any kind of sports bras, no matter what your budget is. Ones that have more lycra will compress more.
Some people wear two sports bras at once. They wear the first one normally and the second with the back at the front.
Taking days off from binding can lower your risk. Binding for more than 8 hours can cause health issues. Doctors don’t recommend binding when you sleep or exercise.
Some people bind with things they have in their house, like ace bandages and duct tape. Doctors say that binding with these has a much higher risk for health issues.
Health risks from binding
Different ways of binding can cause health problems. Some can make it a little harder to get good results from chest reduction surgery.
Some issues are common for binding:
- Chest, back, and shoulder pain
- Tiredness and weakness
- Breathing issues and coughing
- Chest changes and tenderness
- Skin issues
Some bigger issues are less common, especially with safety steps:
- Rib fractures or changes
- Lung damage
- Damage to the muscles in your chest
Binding always has some risks, But they’re higher if you use things like ace bandages or duct tape. You can lower the risks by using a binder that fits comfortably and taking regular breaks from wearing it.
Doctors can help you with a lot of these issues. Talking to them about smaller issues can help you avoid bigger ones!
Choosing a binder
There are lots of different brands and styles of binders. Some binders come in different colours or patterns! There are two common types, short binders and long binders.
Short binders stop around just below your chest. Long binders can go as far down as your mid-thigh. Binders can have different cuts so you can wear them with clothes like tank tops.
Like other types of exercise, swimming in a binder has more health risks. But there are binders that are made for swimming!
It can help to think about when, where and how you want to use your binder. Knowing that can help you pick the best one for you!
What size am I?
Binders are made to fit tightly. You don’t have to order a smaller size than you need. Wearing one that’s too small will hurt your body.
You should be able to take deep breaths and move freely in your binder. If you can’t, it might be too small.
Knowing your chest measurements is an important part of getting the right chest binder. Here are some tips for getting the right measurements:
- Use a flexible tape measure or a string and ruler to measure
- Measure on your bare chest
- Take note of the measurements:
- Under your armpit where your chest tissue begins
- The widest point of your chest
- Under your chest tissue
- The distance between your shoulders
Once you’ve measured yourself, you can check a vendor’s chart for the best size. These sometimes aren’t exact. Trying on a few different sizes can help you find the right one
How can I get a binder?
Lots of online stores sell binders. But if you’re worried about someone finding out you bought one, there are other options! Some organizations in Montreal have free or less expensive binders:
Caring for your binder
Taking good care of your binder can make it last longer! Your binder will probably come with instructions for how to take care of it.
Usually, people recommend keeping binders clean so they don’t irritate your skin. Depending on the brand, you might be able to put your binder in a washing machine. But putting it in the dryer can damage it. Instead, you can let it air dry.
Binding can help with gender dysphoria. If you follow the safety precautions, it can be a great way to feel more comfortable in your body and explore what makes you feel good!