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Binding safely
by TeenHelp October 9th 2015, 05:04 PM

Binding safely
By Shane (MyVisionIsDying)

During transition, a trans male (and those who identify as other transgender identities) may opt to bind their chest before top surgery, or if they choose not to undergo surgery, then they might possibly bind their chest for the rest of their life unless they do not want to bind. Binding is a way to flatten the breasts to create the appearance of a more masculine looking chest. For trans males in particular, binding may help to alleviate chest dysphoria. Dysphoria is a condition where a person experiences discomfort or distress because there is a mismatch between their gender identity and biological sex.

However, some methods of binding can be extremely dangerous and could cause physical harm. Ace bandages are the biggest culprit as they do not move with your body and therefore can seriously restrict breathing and even result in a build-up of fluid in the lungs or broken ribs. Duct tape is also not good to bind with as it can rip the skin and leave scars as well as restrict breathing. There have been cases where some trans males have acquired scars and permanent injuries because they were binding with ace bandages or duct tape, so it is not advised at all.

This is why there are binders specially made for people to bind with. There are many brands of binders with notable ones being Underworks, gc2b and T-Kingdom. Binders also come in various styles and materials depending on which brand they are, for example T-Kingdom binders offer several options for their binders including pull-over, Velcro and zippers as opposed to Underworks and gc2b only offering pullover. Commonly, binders come in tank tops and half tanks, and it is up to the individual as to which type of binder they would prefer.

It is worth researching many binder brands to figure out which one will suit the individual; it is also worth noting that Underworks in particular - although used by many trans people - is aimed at cisgender men with gynecomastia, a condition where the breast tissue swells caused by a hormone imbalance. So people should try to search for brands that are aimed at transgender individuals, such as gc2b, which was founded by someone who identifies as genderqueer.

When choosing a binder, trans individuals should be sure to use the measurement chart provided by the company to take accurate measurements of their chest. It is advised to always order a binder in the size they fall under, however if people fall on a cusp then the higher size should be sufficient- it depends on the companyís way of measuring. Wearing a smaller, ill-fitting binder will put them at risk of the same problems as binding with ace bandages or duct tape. Although the binder may be the right size, it can still restrict breathing very slightly - trans individuals should take a deep breath after putting on the binder to make sure theyíll be able to breathe easily throughout the day. They should also check themselves after taking off their binder; checking their chest for any changes such as how the skin looks and feels. If there are noticeable changes then it could be a sign that the binder is too tight or the person has worn it for too long.

Putting on a binder will be very difficult if itís new, and methods also depend on the binderís material. For example, an Underworks binder can be put on overhead or by pulling it up over the hips and waist because of its stretchy mesh material as opposed to the gc2b binder which can only be put on overhead because the binding panel does not stretch at all due to the material being a firm cotton.

It isnít advised to bind for more than eight to twelve hours a day as it may become uncomfortable, so people should listen to their body and give themselves a break once in a while when binding. It is also not advised to bind while sleeping, when unwell or exercising.

Like any other items of clothing, binders need to be washed, however they may need to be hand washed depending on the binderís make. Some binders such as gc2b can be machine washed but hand washing the binder will make it last longer.

Lastly, there are good alternatives for binders, for example sports bras are an easy and cheap option if people cannot afford a binder. Although they may not do a good job as opposed to binders, sports bras will flatten the chest slightly and along with layering clothes, it may be able to get the chest to a point where it seems smaller than before. Sports bras are also advised for exercising in as they will securely hold a person's chest instead of compressing it so they are able to breathe while vigorously moving.

Transgender individuals should feel comfortable when binding as it can be a positive experience regardless of whether or not they are in transition. When worn correctly, binders can help ease dysphoria and increase confidence of transgender individuals.
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