Binding is when a trans-masculine person who feels discomfort with their chest, compresses the chest using a material aid to feel more comfortable and confident in their body. A majority of trans-masculine people choose to bind because they feel a physical and/or emotional discomfort with their chest, which usually relates to Gender Dysphoria, which is a feeling of distress a person experiences because of the fact that they were not born as the biological sex and gender they identify as. Binding can bring confidence with a person’s body image and help them ‘pass’ as the gender they express and identify as. I, a transgender male choose to wear a binder because of my severe discomfort with my chest, and feel that having a flat appearing chest helps me feel more comfortable in my identity as male. However, it is not compulsory for a trans-masculine person to bind. A person’s relationship with their body is completely their own, and choosing to bind/not bind does not determine their identity as being transgender. Some trans-masculine people feel comfortable enough with their chest to not wear a binder, or may feel uncomfortable wearing one for varying reasons, or may not even be able to afford one, as sometimes they are not easily available as it is very rare to find a binder available for purchase in regular high street clothing stores.
As empowering binding can be for a lot of trans-masculine people, it is important to note and be aware of how to bind safely. The first thing to note about chest binding safely is to not use ace bandages to compress the chest, as they are not designed for binding as they don’t move with your body, which can restrict your breathing, cause broken ribs, and in some cases, cause fluid build up in the lungs. Binding with ace bandages can be very dangerous and can lead to long term damage, so it is always advisable to purchase a body fitted binder that is safe and comfortable for your body to avoid this.
When purchasing a binder, it is important to check the measurement guidelines online before buying the binder, as it is essential your binder is the correct size for your body. Some people buy a binder that is a size smaller than the recommended guideline for their measurements as they feel it will compress the chest more effectively; however this is NOT recommended and can be very dangerous as wearing an item of clothing that is too tight can restrict breathing, cause breakage of ribs and have other serious consequences. Always carefully check your own measurements and consult the measurement guidelines before purchasing. There are binders available for all body types and shapes, so always take note of the size charts, and some binder companies use different materials, so it is wise to take note of that in case of any reactions you may have to certain fabrics.
It is also important to not wear a binder for more than 8 hours, as this can cause breathing restrictions. It is never advisable to sleep in a binder, as your chest and lungs need to be able to breathe freely, and compressing them for a long period of time can cause issues.
In summer, binding can very easily become uncomfortable; as a binder is often tight it can cause a build up of sweat inside the binder in hotter weather, which can increase the risk of dehydration and overheating. A good tip to help reduce the build up of perspiration is by using baby powder, which is not an antiperspirant, however it can help absorb the sweat and keep sweat production down. From experience, it is always good to wear light fabrics over the binder, as thick jumpers are only going to trap extra unwanted heat, so I’d recommend wearing light cotton or linen shirts that are light and designed to keep you cool. Most binders are made from spandex or nylon, which are great for compression, but unfortunately trap heat in against the body. There are also mid length binders available from most retailers that sell binders, which usually sits just above the belly button, which are much better for staying cool than full length binders, which stop at the waist.
If you are looking for a binder, I have included some websites and resources that will provide you with information on affordable binders that are easily available online.
For further information on binding safely:
Hope this article is informative and/or useful for you, feel free to ask me any questions you may have on binding!