Binders are widely used in the LGBT+/GSM community to fight body dysmorphia (BDD) and gender dysphoria (GD). The idea is to compress breast tissue to appear less feminine and are used by transgender individuals, non-binary individuals, and gender-fluid individuals to appear more masculine or less feminine.
POINT 5CC, an LGBT+ confirming website, has a set of ‘golden rules’ to binding safely.
- Bind for a maximum of 8-hours a day. Binding for long hours multiple days, over time, will break down tissue and cause breathing complications, back pain, and skin irritation.
- Never sleep in your binder. Your body needs rest from the constant compression, see point one for complications.
- Never Workout in your binder. Sports bras are designed to move with you, binders restrict movement and breathing.
- Do not bind if there is pain. Pain is a natural reaction when something is wrong and is an indicator that complications may occur. If you feel pain when binding, stop binding and search for an alternative.
- If it’s possible to have a safe discussion with an LGBT+ friendly provider prior to binding, it is recommended to do so as binding can affect skin elasticity and minimally affect top-surgery outcomes.
When measuring binder size, it’s important to use a flexible ruler or string to measure the entire way around your torso and breast. The first measurement is the underarm measurement, just above where your breast tissue begins. The second measurement is around the largest part of the torso and chest, usually around the nipples. The third measurement is the underbust, taken where you would measure for the band size on a bra. Finaly, you will need your shoulder measurement, taken with the tape measure at one point of one shoulder and stretched to the other. Do not wrap the measuring tape all the way around your shoulders. Then, to determine your size, compare your largest chest measurement and your shoulder measurement to the sizing chart and round up if between sizes. GC2B has a wonderful sizing chart and guides on how to measure and what style may be best for you!
Now that the binder fits, its time to learn how to clean. Binders are known to loose their elasticity when machine washed and instead should be washed by hand and air dried to keep as new and fresh as possible. If binding really isn’t your cup of tea, but you want to appear flat, there are alternatives to binding.
Thankfully, POINT 5CC has you covered for alternatives to binding as well. Their first tip is to utilize layers and try a compression shirt or tight-fitting undershirt. The tight-fitting undershirts can help keep your chest from moving or showing too much. If the undershirt is not cutting it, many guys use sports bras to give their chest more compression and support. Either way, the next step is to wear well-fitting shirts over, paying attention to not be too tight in the shoulders or arms. Baggy clothing can hang off and cause more curves and shadows. Finaly, stick with dark colors and vertical patterns. Darker colors help hide depth, and vertical patterns or buttons draw attention away from unwanted curves.
Now that the basics are covered and you know how to properly utilize a binder, where can you find one? GC2B is a gender-affirming apparel company that is trans-owned and -operated. Their binders range from $33-$40 and are all shipped in discreet packaging.
F2M Binders by Underworks donates a binder for every binder purchased from them. Their binders range from $29-$52 in multiple different types. Tri-Top chest Binders being cheaper and full-body compression suits being more expensive. The F2M Binders also come with discreet packaging and the website has sections on how to clear your browser history, cache, and cookies on all major web browsing services.
Underworlds. (1997). FTM Binders. Retrieved February 01, 2021, from https://www.f2mbinders.com/
P. (n.d.). Binding 101: Tips to Bind Your Chest Safely [Web log post]. Retrieved January 20, 2021, from http://point5cc.com/binding-101-tips-to-bind-your-chest-safely/
GC2B. (2021). Gc2B transitional apparel. Retrieved February 04, 2021, from https://www.gc2b.co/