Chest binding is a way for many trans men to curb dysphoria, and is a fairly common step in FTM transition. “Binding” refers to flattening breast tissue to create a male-appearing chest using a variety of materials and methods. While binding with common household items is an inexpensive route, it can also be unsafe.
If you are a trans man who is considering doing some chest binding and wants to do it safely, then this post is for you! It includes information on kinds of binders, how to measure your chest for a binder, resources for cash-strapped trans men, and important health considerations.
The first step in learning how to bind safely is finding about what’s not safe to do. Don’t use Ace bandages or duct tape—they aren’t meant for binding, don’t move with your body, and can cause physical harm. They can seriously restrict breathing, cause fluid build-up in your lungs and other serious injuries, such as broken ribs. There have been numerous cases of trans men who’ve acquired permanent scars and other injuries from using Ace bandages or duct tape to bind. Don’t do it.
Below follows some safe binding tips as well as a list of resources that provide assistance to trans men in need of a chest binder.
Chest Binding Resources for Cash-Strapped Trans Men
Trans men are famous for helping each other out whenever possible. As a result, there are many programs in which trans men pass on binders they no longer use, for whatever reason. One of these programs may be able to give you a new or gently used chest binder. Here are some of them, arranged in alphabetical order, not in order of preference, as they are all good programs.
- The Binder Project
The Binder Project selects three people at random from a list of entries each month. Each person selected receives a brand new gc2b binder. The company gc2b is one of the most reputable of all suppliers of new binders, and also donates many of them to needy people via projects such as this one.
- Come As You Are Co-op Binder Recycling Program, Canada
This Binder Recycling Program aims to recycle binders. They give you a $10 gift certificate if you donate one to them, and supply them for $5 each. They also sell new binders. They even recycle sex toys – who knew that was even possible?
- The FTME Free Youth Binder Program
The FTME Free Youth Binder Program provides free binders to people aged up and including 24; they are only able to ship to US addresses.
- MORF Binder Scheme
The Morf Binder Scheme provides free binders to trans men in the UK and around the world.
- Point 5cc
Point 5cc offers free new or used binders with any purchase to needy people in the USA. The name refers to the most common dosage of testosterone for transitioning men.
- Qmunity Binder Exchange
The Qmunity Binder Exchange provides free new and used gender-affirming chest-wear to trans and gender-variant youth who are unable to attain these garments on their own. This program is for youth in BC, Canada only. It offers other support services as well.
- The Transitional Male Big Brothers Binder Program
The Big Brothers Binder Program aims to provide quality new or gently used binders to trans men who would otherwise not be able to afford a new binder. Their program is only for trans men who identify as male, and who plan to or already are living as male full-time. Also, they require a donation, and have some other rules. If you are under 18, your guardian may apply for a binder for you. Underworks donates a lot of binders to this program.
Source: Images Courtesy of TransLeeds @TranLeeds