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Binding

Binding can help to reduce dysphoria and make you feel more comfortable with your body. This is your guide for how to bind your chest safely, where to get a chest binder, tips to make binding more comfortable, how to choose the right style, and more.

Illustration of two figures wearing chest binders

Safety First!

Always

Checkmark...use a chest binder or compression garment specifically intended for flattening your chest safely. 

Checkmark...bind for less than 8 hours a day. The more breaks and time you can go without wearing your binder, the better!

Checkmark...take it off before you sleep or before you exercise to give your body a rest. Sports bras are designed to move with you as you workout, while a binder can make both movement and breathing difficult.

Checkmark...seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider regarding any binding questions you may have.

 

Never

Cross icon...use duct tape or Ace bandages as a replacement for a chest binder. Binding with these materials can restrict your ability to breathe and move properly. Ace bandages are designed to constrict, so as you breathe, they get tighter and tighter and can really hurt you.

Cross icon...wear a binder that’s too small. Tightness ≠ better binding. A binder should create a masculine/neutral torso, not crush your ribcage or make it hard to breathe. 

Cross icon...wear a binder if you feel pain. Binding may be a little uncomfortable, but it should not hurt. Try out a larger compression shirt, find binding alternatives that work for you, or try different ways to hide your chest without binding. Pain is always an indicator that something is wrong.

Where to Get a Binder

Please consider supporting the companies that support the work of Point of Pride:

  • gc2b.co is proudly trans-owned and operated, and has great binders for all body shapes and sizes from XXS–5XL. Their products are high-quality and affordable, and come in different styles and colors.
  • Origami Customs is a trans-owned and operated underthings retailer specializing in gender-affirming products, including custom, made-to-measure binders.

Other online retailers include:

  • Underworks has a number of different style binders for FTMs, the most popular being their double-front compression shirt and tri-top compression shirt. Underworks even offers bathing suit options with build-in binding.
  • T-Kingdom has been selling binding and compression shirts since 1999 and ship internationally. They offer several options, including pull-over, Velcro, and zippered styles.
  • Shapeshifters offers custom, made-to-measure chest binders as well as off-the-rack options in a variety of colors and patterns.

In addition, there may be local retailers or boutique shops that carry chest binders and other LGBTQ+ affirming products. We recommend reaching out to local LGBTQ+ organizations in your area, if possible, for recommendations. CenterLink's Community Center Directory is a great tool to find organizations and trans groups near you.

Binder Donation Programs

  • Point of Pride operates one of the largest free chest binder donation programs of its kind, serving thousands of people in all 50+ states and around the world. Shipping is discrete and 100% free, and we have only two requirements in an effort to be as inclusive as possible: you identify as trans, and you cannot afford or safely obtain a binder.
  • Binder Drive (U.S.) provides free chest binders for Black trans and non-binary folks.
  • Genderbands (U.S.) offers free chest binders and educational resources.
  • American Trans Resource Hub (U.S.) provides free chest binders, with 75% of its supply benefitting underrepresented communities.
  • Qmunity's Bra, Binder, and Breast Forms Exchange Program (Canada) provides free new and used gender-affirming chest wear to trans youth.
  • GenderGear (Canada) offers a binder recycling program.
  • Many GSAs, community organizations, and trans support groups have their own small binder exchange programs. We recommend reaching out locally to see what resources are available near you. (If in the U.S., CenterLink's Community Center Directory is a great tool to start your search.)

How to Measure Yourself

Before you request a free binder, you’ll need to know your size. (Don't guess what your size might be based on a bra or t-shirt size.)

Every manufacturer is a little different and will have their own sizing chart. In general, you'll need a measuring tape, and if you’re in between two sizes, we recommend you round up to the larger size.

This video from our friends at gc2b walks you through how to pick the right size binder.

 

Tips to Make Binding More Comfortable

  • Depending on your style of binder (especially full-length styles), it might be easier to put it on by stepping into it rather than pulling it on like a regular t-shirt. Stick your feet in between the shoulder straps and pull it up your body to your chest, then stick your arms through the holes.
  • To make binding more comfortable, some people wear a light shirt underneath their binder or apply baby powder or corn starch to their skin, to stop the binder from holding in sweat.
  • If your skin becomes irritated, take care of it just as you would any other wound: keep your skin clean by washing with anti-bacterial soap. (Consider taking a break from wearing your binder as well to help things heal faster.)
  • Keep cool and stay hydrated while binding, especially during summer months or in warmer climates. Wear fabrics over your binder that designed to stay cool, like cotton or linen. Related reading: The 6 Best Tips for Binding in the Summer
  • For those of us with mobility issues, there are styles of binders with zippers, velcro, or clasps on the front that may be easier to maneuver over single-piece options you have to step into or pull over your head. For those of us who prefer or need custom sizing, work with a made-to-measure retailer. Shop around or read reviews online to find a style that works best for your needs. Related reading: Binding Safely for Your Body: Tips for All Body Types and Sizes

Caring for Your Binder

  • We recommend you hand wash and hang to dry by air. You can use cold or warm water. Lather it with some dish soap or laundry detergent, then rinse thoroughly. If you wash it in the evening and leave it out to dry, it should ready to wear by morning.
  • If you need to dry it using a machine, use a delicates bag to ensure your binder doesn’t get damaged or caught on other clothes. Related reading: 5 Tips for Taking Care of Your Chest Binder

Something we missed?

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