What is Chest Binding?
Everything you need to know
What is chest-binding?
Chest binding is a technique used to flatten the chest or to correct a posture. Nowadays it's gaining popularity within the LGBTQIA+ community, especially with transgender men and transmasculine people. Binding is often done with the use of a so-called chest-binder; a tight undergarment that is put over the chest area that pushes the flesh down and to the sides. Binding is not without risk, and therefore it's strongly advised to buy professional binders and to not try to DIY your binder!
Should you bind?
For a lot of trans guys chest binding is an essential part of their transition. However, as with everything in life and a transition process, it comes down to individual circumstance and personal preferences. For many guys, it will significantly help with their gender dysphoria and will give them a great confidence boost.
The most important thing to consider when you decide if and when you should chest bind is how it makes you feel, both physically and emotionally. If it helps you feel better about yourself, give it a go. However, it's important to be aware of the risks! In this article, we'll give you some important pointers to make chest binding as safe as possible.
Choosing your chest binder
The most important feature that makes chest binders do their job right is their tightness. Hence, they are often made from sturdy materials such as durable nylon or spandex.
There are basically two types of chest binders, full-length, which extend to additionally cover the stomach, and tri-tops, which are shorter and leave the belly free.
Getting the right size for a binder can be an overwhelming task, and you might need to try different sizes or even brands to find the perfect fit. Make sure you get someone to help you with your measures to get an idea of the dimensions you require. If you buy online, most websites have a size chart that will help you pick the right size for your body. When trying on the binder, it should be relatively snug, but you should always be able to take a deep breath.
How to put on a binder
Getting a chest binder on and off is pretty tricky, and you might want to ask someone to help you (the first time). Don't try to put on a binder like a tank top, instead, you should put it on from down up. Make sure your body is as dry as possible when putting on the binder.
- Put your binder inside out and upside down
- Step into the binder and pull it up to your belly
- Pull it from the handles up, so the inside gets pulled onto your skin
- Put your arms to the sleeves and adjust your chest as needed
Remember, if you can't breathe fully, your binder is too small, and you should not wear it and try another one. Therefore, it might be useful to try/buy various binders at the same time, so you don't end disappointed.
Where to buy your chest binder
1. Binders are relatively expensive; therefore, it could be a great idea to buy your first binder second-hand. Many transguys sell their binders after their chest surgery. We recommend keeping an eye on FTM Garage Sale or Trans Clothes Exchange for second-hand binders and other FTM transition items. Recycling is great for your wallet and for the environment as well!
2. At Paxsies, we offer various kinds of binders, depending on your needs and wants. For your essential needs, we have the basic binder in black. This is the most traditional binder that leaves the stomach area uncovered. That same model is available with extra durable material for people that require some additional firmness.
3. Additionally, there is a full-length singlet binder that covers the stomach. This ensures the whole front area of the body is flattened. It's extra effective because of the length and it also corrects the feminine curve on the abdomen. The most obvious downside with a binder like this is that it can get relatively hot.
4. For those that have a relatively flat chest, a binder band might be enough to sufficiently flatten your chest.
5. Lastly, we offer a sports binder. We recommend using this binder while doing exercises, as this binder has been tested by the Free University of Amsterdam for safety during exercise.
In all cases, it's incredibly important to make sure you got the right size for your body type. Ask for advice online or come to us if you are unsure about the right size for you.
TIP: To make sure your binder lasts you as long as possible, wash it regularly but always with mild soap and cold water. That way, it remains as tight as possible!
How to make chest binding safe
There are always risks involved with binding, including damage to the heart, lungs, and posture. Besides that, it's not that comfortable even if done safely. Still, for many, the relief from gender dysphoria a binder can provide outweighs the physical discomfort and risks linked to binding. In all cases, you should listen to your body and try to limit the period of wearing a binder as much as you can. Many recommend to bind for maximum 6-8 hours a day — which for most people is enough to get through a day at school or work.
However, when it gets uncomfortable, it's crucial to take a break immediately. Don't push your body beyond its limits! Additionally, you shouldn't use a binder while you are sleeping or feeling ill. Because binders limit the lung capacity, wearing a binder when doing exercise can cause you to overheat. If you are planning to exercise, you should consider wearing a tight sports bra or a special sports binder, as they offer more freedom of movement. If you wear a loose T-shirt over it, it will likely not be visible. Take good care of your body!
In all cases, it's vital to remain conscious of the effect the binder has on your body. After taking off the binder, check the state of your skin. If you witness skin irritation of an increase in acne, that could be an indication that your binder is too tight. If you have asthma or another lung condition, you should be extra careful.
We feel we have to stress it again because it happens too often; making a DIY binder can cause serious injury to your body. From fainting, broken ribs or internal organ damage to broken ribs. Professional binders are make from material that is tight enough to have the desired effect yet it moves with your body, minimizing the risks associated with binding.
It's important to account for both the risks and the benefits when you're considering whether binding is right for you or not. If you choose to bind, try to do it safely! Regardless of what you choose, remember, it's what's on the inside that counts!