Binding – compressing your chest to give it a flatter appearance, is common among many people in the LGBT+ community. Designed to ease gender dysphoria, it’s helpful for many people and with waiting lists soaring between 28 and 33 months for those seeking medical transition in Ireland, transgender people face a longer wait than ever for access to hormones and surgeries. Below are some tips and tricks for healthier, happier binding.
Where to Buy
Binding with the right materials can be a huge help. Trans-friendly companies such as GC2B, FLAVNT and Underworks ship to Ireland and offer a wide variety of sizes and colours at an affordable price to make binding as positive an experience as possible. For those who can’t safely access or buy a binder, websites like F2M Direct offer easy binder donations for those in need.
What Not to Wear
Don’t bind with household materials like sticky tape or medical-grade bandages as these are not designed to move with your body as you breathe and can cause damage and pain to your chest, ribs and back.
Give Yourself a Break
Medical experts advise ideally not to bind more than eight hours at a time and 12 hours at absolute maximum. Always listen to your body when feeling pain or discomfort and if possible schedule days off from binding. Exchange your binder for a sports bra or other less restrictive garment when exercising and never sleep with your binder on, for your own comfort and safety.
On warmer days (rare here in Ireland) binding can get sweaty and uncomfortable thanks to the stretchy synthetic material used to make the garment but you can combat this by applying baby powder to your skin before hopping into your binder. This does double-duty as it helps your skin stay soft while absorbing annoying sweat.
Swap out a full-length binder for a half-tank (one that reaches your belly button) during summer days to skip over-heating and choose natural fabrics like linen or cotton to keep cool on rare scorchers.
A Tight Squeeze
Getting a binder on for the first time is like trying to fit an elephant through a cat-flap. It’s an experience to remember for sure. Firstly, it’s important to measure your chest before you buy so that your binder is designed to fit the exact size of your chest because a too-tight binder is an instant no-go. For the easiest way to try your binder on, flip it upside down and inside out, step into it like a pair of shorts and slowly shimmy it up your body (slowly being the keyword here).
Confidence is Key
Binding for the first time can be a nerve-wracking experience for many people. When trying on your binder for the first time, remember that although your chest may not look completely flat, neither are many cis men’s chests!.
Start yourself off slowly and let your body adjust to the feeling of the binder. Practice wearing it around your house and build confidence in your new silhouette before taking it outside. Often, it takes four to six wears to fully break in a binder so that it moulds to the shape of your own body. After that, get ready to see your confidence levels soar!
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