The Beacon Bit: A Youth Perspective - Binding Guide

BeaconBit 

Many transmasculine folks choose to bind in order to ease dysphoria or to come across as more masculine to the outside world. Binding involves wearing a garment that compresses the breasts to give the appearance of a flatter chest. Following are some tips for buying, wearing, and caring for a binder.

 

- Don’t bind improperly. Pretty simple, don’t use Ace bandages, duct tape, or anything similar. Both Ace and duct tape won’t allow for proper expansion of the lungs/ribcage when breathing and can lead to collapsed lungs and broken ribs, as well as potentially damaging breast tissue to the point where you may be ineligible for top surgery later in life.
- Don’t buy a binder from Amazon or Wish.
- Don’t buy a binder that is marketed to lesbians, tomboys, or cosplayers/stage performers.
- Don’t buy a binder from Les Love Boat or Les Lesbian. In general, these brands make low quality binders.
- Don’t buy a binder with clasps, Velcro, or zippers. Most people with these kinds of binders say they are uncomfortable or difficult to wear because they dig into the skin, they come undone easily, or both.
- Read reviews on binders before you buy.
- Take your measurements. Just guessing your size or basing it on your t-shirt size is not a reliable indicator. Measure yourself according to the method in the sizing chart of the company you’re buying from and compare it to the chart. If you’re in between two sizes, round up.
- There are two binder brands that you will generally hear recommended; they are Underworks and GC2B. GC2B is credited as more effective. You can buy from both companies online.
- Half vs. full binder: half binders are not as hot and work just as well in the chest as a full binder. They occasionally will ride up and you’ll be compulsively pulling down your binder all day. A full binder has the added bonus of smoothing your hips; however, these can be really tight in the tummy area, especially if you’ve got some pudge there. Read reviews to help you make your decision.
- White binders collect sweat stains very easily. Buying a white binder is not recommended.
- There are a lot of tutorials to make your own binder, and also shops online that make custom binders. These are good resources if you are unable to find a binder in your size. Just make sure you buy from a reputable shop.
- There are a couple of ways to bind without a binder. One is to stack sports bras. Try putting one on backward and one on forward (note: this only works with compression sports bras). Another method is to use shapewear like Spanx. Most shapewear is made out of the same material as a lot of binders. Buy a pair and cut a slit in the crotch part. You can then pull it on just like you would a normal binder.
- Don’t wear a binder for more than 8 hours if at all avoidable. 10 hours is okay as long as you’re not doing it every day. Don’t wear a binder for more than 12 hours. You will be in pain. A lot of pain.
- Don’t continue wearing a binder if you are in pain or having trouble breathing. Keeping a sports bra with you when you’re binding so that you can change if you need to is recommended.
- Don’t exercise while binding. Exercising while binding could potentially cause you to pass out due to lack of oxygen.
- Don’t sleep in a binder. This applies to naps too. The reason for this is that the pressure of the binder combined with the additional pressure of your body weight on whatever surface means more risk of bruising, lung damage, breathing constriction, and rib fractures.
- Don’t wear a binder if you are sick with a respiratory illness. If you are coughing or having trouble breathing, binding can aggravate these issues.
- If you have a chronic respiratory condition, ask your doctor if it is safe for you to bind.
- It’s okay to put a binder in the washing machine on cold, but do not put it in the dryer. If you want to be extra careful, hand wash your binder. l

 

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Marcia McCoy, Ph.D.

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