A Guide to Chest Binding
If you’ve read any of the previous TWE chest binding articles then I’m sure you’re already aware of what binding is, but for those who are new to the website, ‘binding’ is when a transgender person (usually someone who identifies as a trans-male, genderfluid or non-binary) compresses their chest to minimise their body dysphoria.
Binding isn’t only for people in the LGBT+ community, binders can be used for individuals who have Gynecomastia. This is a common condition in men which causes breast tissue to swell, Gynecomastia often occurs when a man has unbalanced hormones.
Binding is an excellent way of reducing body dysphoria and improving mental health. If you or someone you love is a part of the transgender community and don’t have a binder, it would be worth asking them if they require a binder. Body dysphoria can be distressing and uncomfortable, so the most beneficial thing you can do for someone who is experiencing this would be to acknowledge their preferred identification (for example, their pronouns) and understand how they’re feeling.
I started to bind at a very young age, I was around 13 years old and didn’t realise how dangerous binding can be. Then, I wasn’t out to my family and the opportunity to come out wasn’t there either so asking my family to help was not a choice that I could take. Thinking back, I see myself considerably lucky to have such amazing, supportive friends during secondary school because they would always buy me new binders when I needed them but the issue with that was they were cheap! Buying cheap binders is an absolute no go for a transgender person, please do not buy binders that are under £20. They can cause a lot of stress on your body and in bad cases, binding can send you to the hospital if not done correctly. As time went on for me, I was able to fully comprehend how poorly I used to bind and how much it had changed my body, this is when I decided to consult my doctor. Once I spoke to my doctor she informed me that she was unsure about what to do but kindly referred me to the GIC (Gender Identity Clinic) in London. From that day, I’ve only ordered binders from Underworks (not sponsored!) and I can finally breathe while maintaining a much smaller chest. I still look in the mirror and smile every day. Thankfully my family is now very supportive and helps me look for new binders online, Underworks seem to be the binders that work well for me.
If you’re in a situation similar to my own then you’ve already had your first gender clinic appointment and are currently waiting to see either the NHS clinic or waiting to have your second appointment. For those of you who are still waiting for their initial appointment, I strongly recommend preparing yourself, they will do a physical examination of your chest area. This will feel daunting and uncomfortable but these examinations are necessary to ensure that you are staying healthy while binding.
Here's the fun! Choosing your binder. The most common websites to buy a binder is either gc2b.co or underworks.com, my personal favourite is Underworks but a lot of transgender people go to gc2b for their binders. The only difference between these two websites is that gc2b binders are specifically designed for trans people whereas Underworks is for those with Gynecomastia. GC2B has so many different styles and colours to choose from so take your time while browsing the online store, remember to use a tape measure to accurately measure your chest and get the correct sized binder. GC2B has lots of great advice on their website on how to measure properly. Please do not guess or get a size too small, this can cause major health issues, both short and long term but no not be scared off by this, just be safe. Binding is safe when done properly!
Tips on binding, I have scoured the internet for the best tips on chest binding so you don’t have to:
If you wear a binder and you get nausea, bruising, panic attacks, claustrophobic feelings, sharp pains in the chest, very fast heart pace, not being able to breathe, dizziness or fainting take off your binder and consult a doctor. These are not normal so please don’t ignore it if you have any of those symptoms. Binders can make you a little sore and feel somewhat tight but that is completely normal as long as you’re wearing the correct sized binder.
Remember to stay safe while binding and to discuss your options with a close family member or friend, this is so important as you will have someone to talk to if you begin to have any issues with your transition. If you have any further questions about binding, feel free to get in contact by selecting ‘Contact Us’ at the top of the website.
Stay home and stay safe.