Several kinds of specialized clothing are designed to flatten the chest. These are used by all kinds of people:
- People experiencing
- unwanted breast tissue (gynecomastia)
- back pain from excessive breast tissue
- recovery from chest surgery or rib injuries
- Trans+ women and transfeminine people who are taking hormones but not out at school or work
- Trans+ men and transmasculine people prior to or instead of top surgery
- Gender+ people who like the look and feel or want to reduce dysphoria
Not everyone in these groups chooses to use binders, and those who do have a number of great options.
Warning: don’t use bandages or tape
Some people have used ACE bandages or duct tape because they are cheap, easy to find, and tight. Please do not do this. It’s a bad option:
- Bandages can tighten the longer you wear them
- Bandages can compress or even crack your ribs
- Bandages can make it hard to breathe if too tight
- Bandages can cause pain that makes rebinding impossible
- Tape does not stretch, so regular activity can crack a rib.
- Tape does not breathe, so it can cause skin damage
- Tape can pull skin off with it when removed
Long-term use of either option may cause tissue damage that can affect the results of future top surgery you might want.
Tight T-shirt under loose layers
Some people with minimal unwanted breast tissue are able to wear a very tight T-shirt, then layer a thicker T-shirt and one or more thick outer shirts and sweaters or jackets over those. Trans women who are taking hormones but not out at work or school are often able to do this as long as needed. This is the safest option in terms of health.
Some people with mild to moderate unwanted breast tissue are able to wear a sports bra designed to keep the chest immobilized during exercise. They then layer a thicker T-shirt and one or more thick outer shirts and sweaters or jackets over those. Others prefer binders because they don’t look like bras.
- These cover the ribcage. Some people feel they look a little close to a sports bra.
- These are like a long tank top that goes down to your hips. They are the most popular kind.
- These look like a vest and open on the side or front. A great option for quick binding breaks during the day. They usually come in two fastener types
- helpful for weight fluctuations
- can be noisy when released
- more popular option
- easy to open and close
Use the minimum amount of pressure needed to get the look and feel you want. Binding doesn’t have to hurt.
Cooler weather is a chance to reduce the pressure
If it hurts, stop. Pain means you are hurting your body. Try a different option.
Use the minimum amount of time possible. Try not to bind for more than 8 hours a day.
Do not work out in a binder.
Do not sleep in a binder.
Alternate binders based on clothes.
Some binders may be easier to put on by stepping into them like pants, then pulling them up to your chest.
If you can’t afford a binder, many LGBT Centers have programs that offer free donated binders to those in need. Some retailers have also developed programs for binder exchanges, giveaways, trade-ins, and other options, especially for younger people.
Design Veronique (designveronique.com)
- Great selection of skin tone binders.
Love Boat (lesloveboat.com)
- Has a special section at f2mbinders.com
Venus Envy (venusenvy.ca)
Point 5cc (point5cc.com)
- Binding 101
- Dressing Well Without Binding
- Binding Safely for Your Body
- The 6 Best Tips for Binding in the Summer
Hudson’s FTM Resource Guide (ftmguide.org)