Binding 101: Tips to Bind Your Chest Safely
Binding is a great way to reduce chest dysphoria and become more comfortable with your body. For many of us, a flat chest affirms our identities or helps us to be read correctly in public. The most important thing is that you do so safely.
Not just for trans guys!
Lots of people who don't identify as trans men bind their chests for a flatter appearance or to feel more comfortable. Even some cis women bind their chests. Genderqueer, trans, cis – doesn't matter how you ID.
Not all trans guys!
At the same time, not every trans masculine person chooses to bind their chest. Many guys feel no need to bind, or they choose to conceal their chest through clothing or other means. If someone chooses not to bind, that doesn't not mean they're not "really trans" or that they should be misgendered. Everyone is different.
The Golden Rules of Binding
- Always bind for less than 8 hours a day (the more breaks and time you can go without, the better!). Binding for long hours every day over time breaks down tissue and can cause breathing problems, back pain, and skin irritation.
- Always take your binder off before you sleep. Give your body rest while you rest. Also, take it off before exercising. Sports bras are designed to move with you as you workout, while a binder can make movement and even breathing more difficult.
- Never use duct tape or Ace bandages to bind your chest. Binding with these materials can restrict your ability to breathe and move properly. Ace bandages in particular are designed to constrict, so as you breathe, they get tighter and tighter and can really hurt you.
- If it hurts, stop. 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.
- Only wear a chest compressing garment made specifically for the task.
Styles of Chest Binders/Compression Shirts
- Long shirt style: Most folks prefer a full, long shirt style binder because it compresses your chest without looking or feeling like a bra, and tucks easily into your pants. (Sometimes binders roll up on themselves, so having extra length to tuck them into pants is helpful.) These binders might include stomach compression too, while others have a relaxed stomach.
- Mid-length style: A mid-length style binder typically reaches your belly button or just to the top of your pants.
- Sports-bra style: Sports-bra style binders give you chest compression and nothing else. Ideal to avoid overheating or feeling uncomfortable in a fuller-length style.
- Vest style: Most vest-style binders have velcro or a zipper to make putting on and taking off your binder easier.
Wearing Your Chest Binder
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 to their skin.
Where to Buy a Chest 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 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.
- Gynecomastia Solutions, a UK-based brand, offers affordable compression garments including chest binders.
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 Boys offers a monthly giveaway on Facebook for pre-op trans folks seeking a binder.
- In a Bind donates new or used binders to trans masculine youth 21 and under in need.
- Replace the Ace seeks to donate gently-used binders to people in need to help get rid of harmful binding practices in our community.
More Information on Binding
- Hudson's FTM Guide has tons of information on safe and effective chest compression:
- TransGuys.com has a thorough guide on binding do's and don'ts: http://transguys.com/features/chest-binding
- The Chest Binder Review site is inactive now, but has a bunch of old reviews of all different binder products still up on the site: http://chestbinders.wordpress.com
Written by Point of Pride
Point of Pride provides financial aid and direct support to trans folks in need of health and wellness care.